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The Blue & Gray Press | December 17, 2017

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UMW History Through Art

TIM ST. ONGE

Beth Wilkins/Bullet

Beth Wilkins/Bullet

Last Thursday a new art exhibit, “The Creative Process: History of the Arts at the University of Mary Washington,” opened in duPont Gallery celebrating 100 years of the fine arts at UMW. Featured alongside the exhibit was a visual timeline of the school as well as an opportunity for visitors to write something about the present time and donate it to a time capsule to be opened at the bicentennial in 2107.
The Theatre and Dance, Music, Art, and Art History Departments were represented in the gallery, which opened with an excellent reception from UMW students, faculty, and community members.
On prominent display in the gallery is a section harking back to UMW’s impassioned encounter with the infamous Westboro Baptist Church.
Numerous pieces in the gallery predate the founding of the Fine Arts Center of duPont Hall, Melchers Hall, and Pollard Hall in 1953.  Among the earliest pieces in the exhibit include an MWC band tambourine dating back in use to the 1940’s. Elsewhere in the Music section is a record from the 1966 College Chorus and choir recordings from the 1990’s.
In the Arts section, photographs document the painting of the Monroe Hall murals in the 1940’s. The murals by art professor Emil Schnellock and his students were part of what he called his “most ambitious project” according to the Spring 2007 Historic Preservation Department publication. Schnellock’s work also appears in George Washington Hall and Trinkle Hall.
Among other art pieces featured is a 1995 alabaster sculpture by David Rueckert called “Composition #1,” which earned Rueckert the first annual Melchers-Gray Purchase Award, granting his work permanent residence in UMW’s gallery collection.
More art pieces of mixed media and photographic work are showcased alongside recent pictures of professors and students working on art projects in class.
The Theatre and Dance Department is the best-represented department of the exhibit. A 1954-55 theatre scrapbook catalogs the department’s performance of “Our Town,” while a dance scrapbook details dance performances from the 1968-69 school year.
Complementing photos of stage performances are costume designs and drawings from past shows as well as models for set designs for 2006’s “Bat Boy” and 1996’s “Taming of the Shrew.”
Also displayed is a 2003 newspaper article chronicling the controversy surrounding that year’s theatre performance of “The Laramie Project,” which tells the story of a homophobia-motivated murder.
Fred Phelps, the leader of the contentious, vocally anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, and many of his followers traveled from Kansas to Fredericksburg to protest the play.
The exhibition is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from 1 to 4 p.m. and runs until Dec. 7.