Exhibition Review: “Search and Discover: Art on Paper Class Exhibition”, Arizona State University Library

Exhibition Review: "Search and Discover: Art on Paper Class Exhibition", Arizona State University Library

Exhibition Review: “Search and Discover: Art on Paper Class Exhibition”, Arizona State University Library

Library Exhibitions Review, Issue 1, March 2023

Reviewed by
Courtenay McLeland, Head of Digital Projects and Preservation
University of North Florida

Search and Discover was the 2021 installment of an ongoing series of exhibits called Creative Cartography, now in its 9th year. This series of exhibits is a result of a collaboration between the Arizona State University Library’s Map and Geospatial Hub and the School of Art within the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Each fall, a physical and digital exhibit features pieces by students in an Art on Paper course, taught by art professor Ellen Messinger. Students incorporate withdrawn maps from ASU collections to create two-dimensional and three-dimensional artwork in response to a thematic prompt. The Search and Discover exhibit occurred physically in the Noble Science and Engineering Library in the fall of 2021 and continues to be available digitally through a LibGuide.

The higher-level Creative Cartography LibGuide brings together all exhibits within the series and provides background on the inspiration for this collaboration and exhibition program. Flyers for exhibits from 2014 to the present are visible on the Home tab linking directly to each exhibit. Additionally, guide tabs on the left enable navigation to each annual exhibit within the series. Within the Search and Discover exhibit there is an introductory paragraph followed by an Opening Panel comprised of a visually-appealing exhibit flyer for the physical exhibit. The flyer provides context and background for this established exhibition series while offering a glimpse of assorted pieces featured in the exhibit. Previous Art on Paper Class exhibitions on the LibGuide have been handled in a similar way.

Using the Gallery Box feature available in SpringShare’s LibGuides platform, the exhibit creators have provided a slide show of the works along with the artists’ names, artwork titles, media, and statements about each work. Users may scroll through the exhibit manually or allow the gallery box to automatically move to the next slide. While this format does not offer an overarching view of all pieces in the exhibit, the slide show provides the viewer with an opportunity to focus on each piece and the associated statement. It is also possible to click on an image and get a slightly larger view in a new tab. Although the 2021 Search and Discover exhibit does not offer an image capturing the physical installation, some of the previous exhibits in the series include that documentary feature as well.

Within the Search and Discover exhibit most, though not all, of the images have alt-text. When there is alt-text, it indicates that the image is artwork and includes the artist’s name. This results in a few images having the same alt-text when multiple pieces are by the same artist. Since the opening panel flyer representing the exhibit is an image with text, it would be a worthwhile enhancement to link to a PDF version of the flyer, or otherwise provide the flyer text in a screen-readable format.

Through this course and the associated annual exhibition series, students gain valuable experience in sustainable art practices, exhibit craft, and participation in group shows. The ongoing digital exhibit serves as documentation that the students may include on their curricula vitae after graduation. There is value in expanding the reach of these time-limited physical exhibits to a wider, geographically dispersed audience. Additionally, the online documentation of this long-standing exhibit series and fruitful collaboration will continue to serve as programmatic and creative inspiration for other librarians, art faculty, and art students.

Image Credit:
Arizona State University Library, Search and Discover, Digital Exhibit Flyer, 2021, https://libguides.asu.edu/creativecartography/searchdiscover.

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