Thanks to art faculty and students, art appreciation and awareness is both celebrated and highly anticipated at UW-Green Bay. The art bombing of last fall — taking art to the streets to increase awareness and showcase the talents of artists — was a hit, boosting morale and creating an internal and social media buzz.
A giant cameo necklace, anonymously created, and now indefinitely displayed on the third floor stairwell of the Cofrin Library, moved the buzz meter the most. The anonymity was intentional said the artist, later revealed as UWGB Associate Professor Jennifer Mokren.
“It seemed like people were excited to see art hanging from the side of a building,” Mokren said. “I also think that the fact that it was initially anonymous and went up quietly, with no fanfare, and then followed by several other pieces by art students, created a lot of interest among the campus community. My hope was that people would recognize that art can happen anywhere, and doesn’t just need to be seen in a gallery or museum to be appreciated.”
For Cofrin Library Director Paula Ganyard, the cameo and the art bombing has enjoyed the element of the unexpected.
“I have so enjoyed the element of surprise that the art bombing has brought to campus,” Ganyard said. “You just never knew where or when something would pop-up. We particularly loved that we were selected to be bombed twice. I think that art bombing is a great way to get art in front of people who might not see it otherwise and for it to be found in unexpected spaces just added attention to it.”
Ganyard has made a point of displaying more artwork since she has become library director a few years ago.
“We have a very talented art faculty, who are recognized experts and leaders in their specialties,” she said. “Supporting their work by displaying it in the library is the equivalent to have a faculty member’s book in the UWGB authors’ collection.”
Mokren’s subject matter, UW-Green Bay Chancellor Harden, was intentional, both because the history and tradition of cameo necklaces — which reached the height of popularity in the Victorian Era — were reserved for people in leadership roles, such as royalty, and because of the buzz she expected it would create around campus.
“How would people come to feel some kind of connection to the necklace if it was a historical figure or stylized unknown subject? Of course the choice was a little tongue-in-cheek, because most of the cameo subjects are traditionally women, and because generally speaking, it’s funny to have a large necklace with an image of the chancellor hanging from a building,” she said.
Mokren’s cameo of Chancellor Harden was done in Wedgewood style with a stoneware relief and a blue ceramic background that would “really pop” hanging on the side of the Studio Arts building.
Mokren received help from a company that employs three of her former students, and one current student — Wild Blue Technologies — to router the image. She then carved, in fine detail, the hair and facial features by hand and painted it and used chalk to give it an antiqued look. Mokren purchased a large decorative ceiling medallion usually used for light fixtures and cut the middle out and carved and routered it to create the “setting” or frame of the cameo. The chain was one she ordered from the internet and is typically used for situations such as crowd control.
“I wanted people not familiar with the arts to see it and think more about what happens in that building,” Mokren said. “On our campus the arts are alive and well, but people rarely venture into our building to see the art in the halls or galleries, so I put it outside.”
She instructs the campus community to walk with eyes and ears open this spring, because one never knows when the next bomb could fall.
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