In September 2011, the Carleton College Art Collection moved from the cramped basement of the Computer and Math Center to the spacious lower level of the Weitz Center for Creativity. Now housed in 1,600 square feet of climate-controlled art storage beneath the Perlman Teaching Museum galleries (along with receiving, preparation, classroom, and office areas), the collection has gained both space and greater accessibility.
“With the new facility and a recently launched searchable online database, the art collection is far more accessible to faculty members, visiting artists, and students,” says Laurel Bradley, director of exhibitions and curator of the College art collection. “The collection, which currently numbers about 2,400 pieces, grows annually through gifts and purchases.”
Shown here in the new framing and matting studio, Bradley and Teresa Lenzen, technical director for the Perlman Teaching Museum, prepare recent acquisitions for exhibition and classroom use.
- Laurel Bradley: Since coming to Carleton in 1996, Bradley, who also teaches seminars in curatorial practice, has orchestrated numerous international exhibitions. Recent exhibitions co-curated with Carleton professors embody a new emphasis on connecting the exhibition program to the curriculum.
- Teresa Lenzen: Lenzen, who joined the staff last May, worked previously at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. At Carleton, she prepares artwork for exhibit, designs and installs exhibitions, and catalogs works from the collection and on loan. An artist in her own right, Lenzen creates miniature drawings on everyday objects such as Scrabble tiles and Rolodex cards.
- Flat files: Objects being processed are housed here temporarily. Lenzen mats works on paper and stores them in drawers or boxes so they are protected and available for handling.
- Frames: When they aren’t on exhibit, works are stored outside of frames, which are kept for reuse. “We use Plexi, not glass in our frames,” says Bradley. “Glass is heavy and, if it breaks, it can damage the object. To protect artwork that will be in direct light, we use
- Archival mat board: Blanks left over from cutting mat boards are recut into smaller mats or given to the art department for use as art materials. Bradley prefers acid-free mat board, made from 100 percent cotton rag. Mat boards made from wood pulp degrade when exposed to light. (You can tell because the bevel of the mat will turn brown.)
- Supplies: To attach works of art on paper to mat board, Lenzen uses Hayaku—a Japanese mulberry paper and acid-free, water-activated adhesive—which creates a thin, strong, removable hinge. She uses Q-tips to moisten the hinging paper with water, and then places sand-filled weights on top of the hinge so it will lay flat while drying.
- Brush: This natural-bristle Japanese brush is used to clean fine particles and dust from the frame and print.
- Gloves: Lenzen wears cotton gloves, nitrile gloves, or no gloves at all, depending on the medium and condition of the object and how much she will be handling it.
- Accession tag: Every object that comes into the museum is given a number, which is entered in the database along with essential data so it can be tracked.
- Labels: Exhibition labels are printed on card stock with a laser printer, then mounted on mat board with a mounting adhesive that’s gummed on both sides. Lenzen uses a brayer to smooth the labels onto the mat board.
- Lithograph: “Cerberus,” a selection from the Twelve Labors of Hercules, a 2009 suite of lithographs by Rudy Pozzatti, was a gift from the artist and his wife in honor of their friend Raymond “Jake” Jacobson, who taught studio arts at Carleton from 1955 to 1986 and died in May 2012.
- Photograph: This 2009 photograph of Salif Keïta by Seydou Camara was included in a recent exhibition of Malian portraiture at the Perlman Teaching Museum. Bradley acquired the digital file and cinema and media studies professor John Schott printed it to the Mali photographer’s specifications.
- Pottery: Robert Ellingson ’71 loaned a collection of 40-some pots by renowned Minnesota potter Warren MacKenzie for ceramic students to handle and examine.
- Statue: A Jizõ figure awaits registration. Lenzen will inspect it and enter information about its provenance and condition into the database. One of the most beloved of all Japanese divinities, Jizõ is the only Bodhisattva (one who achieves enlightenment but postpones Buddhahood until all can be saved) portrayed as a monk, full of compassion.
- Student worker: Soon Kai Poh ’14 (Singapore), a studio art major, worked with Lenzen fall term to help catalog the collection.