College students researched art that is part of exhibit at Miami University museum

Miami University Art Museum and Sculpture Park will feature three new exhibitions this spring.

The Art History Capstone Exhibition, “Reflections: Visual Constructions of Race” is one of the exhibitions that will be on display, which is organized by Art and Architecture History students in conjunction with the Senior Art and Architecture History Capstone Seminar, led by Professor Pepper Stetler.

“Race is obviously a very important issue, and it has been for centuries, and within the last couple of years it has been heightened, and very much so, because of the news media, and in many ways, because of visual images,” said Jason Shaiman, curator of exhibitions, Miami University Art Museum.

There will be a public opening reception on Wed., Feb. 9 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., where the Capstone students will present their research, followed by a reception and presentation of the exhibition. The opening reception is free and open to the public.

The Art History Capstone Exhibition, “Reflections: Visual Constructions of Race” will showcase prints, paintings, sculpture, photographs and textiles, representing a wide spectrum of racial identity, including African American, Japanese, Chinese and Latino to Greek and Roman.

“It’s not just simply saying that there’s a problem of race in this country. It’s not about that. It’s about how race as a visual, a social, a societal construct is looked at through three basic lenses or sub themes – self, others and a hybridity of both of those working together,” he said.

“The students and Professor Pepper Stetler were looking at this as a very timely topic, utilizing our collections and giving voice and understanding to the issues of race, and hoping that this will initiate some conversations and dialogue. and not just making false assumptions, which can lead to stereotypes,” Shaiman said.

A class of about 12 to 15 Art History students looked at 80 to 90 pieces from the museum’s collection, talked about why certain pieces should be included in the exhibition, or not, as well as, how to put the pieces in a proper context. Typically, 40-45 pieces are selected for the Art History Capstone Exhibition, depending on the theme.

“The Art History students do the research. They write the narrative on all the text panels and object labels,” Shaiman said, “They pick existing works that are in the museum’s collection. Most of the time, each student gets their own work to research and write about. Then, it’s all edited to have a common voice.”

Held annually, this is the 11th Art History Capstone Exhibition. Each year, the exhibition has focused on a different topic. There are five art history faculty at Miami University, and each faculty member has an opportunity to lead the class, and often, a topic is chosen that is relevant to the students’ specialty in Art History.

“…There’s so many more stories, lessons and understandings that we can develop by really understanding in many ways how a culture represents itself, and not just looking at how others view (it,)” Shaiman said.

The Miami University Art Museum and Sculpture Park serves the university community as well as the public. The primary audience is the student body, faculty and staff. The public is also invited to attend and admission to the museum is free.

Other exhibitions on display this spring will include “From the Ground Up” and “Collections Highlights: Recent Acquisitions.” The exhibitions will remain on display at the art museum through Sat., June 11.

How to go

What: Miami University Art Museum and Sculpture Park will feature three spring exhibitions including the Art History Capstone Exhibition

When: Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m. The gallery is also open the second Wednesday of each month from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The exhibitions will be on view through Sat., June 11

Where: McKie Gallery, Miami University Art Museum and Sculpture Park, 801 South Patterson Ave., Oxford

Admission: Free and open to the public

More info.: (513) 529-2232 or visit

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