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Undergraduate Library Displays Monochromatic Pieces From the University Art Collection

The Undergraduate Library is currently showing its first exhibition of the school year, a gallery titled “Black and White: Works from the University Art Collection.” The exhibit is directed by Wayne State art collection curator Grace Serra and will be on display until Sept. 15. The pieces currently on display were created by local Detroit artists and WSU graduates and includes works by Brenda Goodman, Gary Mayer, Amy Myers, Nancy Mitchnick, Christine Piet, John Piet, James Sandell, Robert Sestoc and Daniel Sperry.

Serra said she feels the exhibition puts an emphasis on local art. “All the works in this collection are important,” Serra said. “This is the only collection that celebrates Detroit art and reveals the important impact that Wayne State University has played on shaping culture in Detroit.” Serra said the exhibition is a collaboration between WSU Libraries and the Art Collection. When asked why the exhibit only featured monochrome pieces, Serra said limiting the options an artist had is what makes their art stand out.

“Jill Wurm, Associate Director of Marketing and Communications for the Libraries, and I developed the idea of a ‘Black and White’ show,” Serra said. “These works are very graphic and demonstrate the wide range of possibilities when limited to minimal elements.” Wurm said the inclusion of black and white pieces in the exhibit is meant to represent the divisiveness of art.

“We knew we wanted to feature Wayne State and Detroit artists, and in perusing some of the options, we happened to notice a lot of black and white color choices and thought it could make for a visually appealing collection,” Wurm said. “The idea of black and white is interesting as we think about art, too. Art can be very polarizing– what one person sees in one piece can be the complete opposite of what someone else might see.”

WSU graduate Daniel Sperry said having his artwork shown next to other prominent artists fills him with joy. “These are some of the first works I made at Wayne State, and having them on view, especially in proximity to other great artists from the Detroit and WSU community, feels nice.” The Art Collection was founded in 1968 and includes more than 6500 works of art that celebrate Detroit. Serra spoke on the long history of the Art Collection and said she would encourage students to explore local arts.

“The Wayne State University Art Collection is used to educate, inspire, foster creative thinking and promote the advancement of social and cultural leadership,” Serra said.  “The collection celebrates Detroit artists, and features the most comprehensive collection of Detroit’s famed ‘Cass Corridor…’ Many artists in this collection have become some of the most prominent visual artists to emerge from Detroit (and) have joined the international conversation on contemporary art.” Serra will be running another art exhibit at WSU in the Purdy Kresge Library Sept. 7 through Sept. 28. The upcoming exhibition will feature pieces from WSU alum Noir Ballout and is titled “Muslims of North America.”