June 27, 2011
Tools, Materials, and the Artist: 1948
The title of the 1948 exhibition, “Tools, Materials, and the Artist” sounds strikingly similar to the 1947 exhibition titled, “Materials and Tools of Art.” Further, the folders that contain the materials that chronicle each exhibit are only 6 folders apart from each other in Box 3. Each folder contains photographs of the exhibits – which are similar in content, yet different in arrangement.
It is not until coming across Ruth Lawrence’s correspondence in the University Gallery records (which were incorporated into the WAM collection) in Box 109 however, that the reason for mounting two similarly titled exhibits a mere year apart comes to light.
Ruth, who had been out East on a collecting visit, and away from the Gallery, receives an update from an employee on the status of the “Materials and Tools of Art” exhibit that was mounted at the Gallery in her absence in 1947, indicating that the exhibit “opened with a bang.”
Another letter, written by Ruth, addressed to “Bill” makes the suggestion that they keep part of the exhibit in tact to use over again, “It, in my opinion, merely emphasized again ‘how it’s done.’ ‘They say’ – if you want to get a point over to an uninitiated mind it must be repeated in new form seven times.”
So, in September of 1948, “Tools, Materials, and the Artist” was displayed at the Gallery. (A new form of an exhibit held the previous year… for the uninitiated minds.)
Rebecca Wilson is a graduate student in the Master of Liberal Studies program at the University of Minnesota, completing a minor in Museum Studies. She also serves as a Visitor Services Assistant at the Weisman Art Museum.