Past Exhibitions

Fall 2022
August 23 – October 15, 2022

Golden Legacy: Original Art from 80 Years of Golden Books

The internationally acclaimed historian on children's books, Leonard S. Marcus served as co-curator for Golden Legacy. His "Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children's Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon along the Way" was the impetus for this exhibition in 2007. It has since been updated with newer illustrators of some of the older classics and will feature a wide-ranging selection of original illustration art by Richard Scarry, Garth Williams, Tibor Gergely, Feodor Rojankovsky, Eloise Wilkin, Alice and Martin Provensen, Leonard Weisgard, Mary Blair and more.

Everyday People: The Art of James E. Ransome

Everyday People is clustered in books about the land, books about famous people, books about family, and classic story retellings. James E. Ransome has illustrated over 60 picture books and is the recipient of the 2018 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for "Before She Was Harriet." His books have included the stories of Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Satchel Paige, Louis Armstrong, the Alvin Ailey Dancers, as well as stories of the use of quilts along the freedom trail and the fight to win access to the ballot box. He is a frequent collaborator with his wife, author Lesa Cline-Ransome, whom he met while both were students at Pratt Institute of Art.

Both of these shows are organized and traveled by the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature in Abilene, Texas.

Burnishing the Medals of Children's Literature

Burnishing the Medals of Children's Literature celebrates award-winning children's books that honor the frequently forgotten, acknowledge the experience of the traditionally marginalized, and ignite curiosity and empathy in young readers. These works embody an inclusive vision of children's literature that both nourishes the self and expands a vision of the world. This exhibition has been organized by staff members of the NIU University Libraries.

Spring 2022
January 18 – May 14, 2022

Biennial NIU Faculty Art Show

Shown every two years, this invitational exhibit features recent artwork and scholarship by current faculty and teaching staff from all divisions of the School of Art and Design and highlights the artistry, research, and instruction found at NIU.

The work on display represents the activity and interests of individual members of the School of Art and Design but also the breadth of the arts programs and disciplines offered at NIU. Work includes the fields of art and design education, art history, ceramics, drawing, fibers, illustration, metals and jewelry, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, time arts and visual communications.

Featuring: Michael Barnes, Wes Beeler, Sasha Bitzer, Todd Buck, Amy Fleming, Billie Giese, Aleksandra Giza, Cynthia Hellyer Heinz, Joseph A. Insley, Jim Kearns, Jessica M. Labatte, Kimberly Martens, Helen Nagata, Jamie Obermeier, Heriberto Ponce, Catherine Raymond, Mike Rea, Nina Rizzo, Stephanie Sailer, John Siblik, Geoffrey Todd Smith, Kryssi Staikidis, Perrin Stamatis, Ben Stone, Frank Trankina, Peter Van Ael, Amanda VanValkenburg, Shei-Chau Wang.

Image: Kryssi Staikidis, Emergence III, Oil on canvas, 2020.

Fall 2021
August 24 - November 12, 2021

"The Art of Surviving: The Journey of the Karen Refugees in Illinois
South Gallery

This exhibition is based on work done by NIU Ph.D. and M.A. students who either lived within the refugee camps along the Burma-Thai border or who worked with Illinois Karen Refugee communities for the last 15 years. The exhibit looks at life in Burma, life in the refugee camp and life in the United States. The Karen, an ethnic group in southern Burma/Myanmar, has been in conflict with the government since 1949 first calling for an independent state and now representation in national government. During the decades-long conflict and violent military persecution many Karen escaped to refugee camps and/or resettled to a third country. The exhibition ties the minority Karen refugee experience to a global perspective, engaging visitors in a critical dialogue on forced migration and displacement and what visitors can do to advocate for local refugee communities.

Exhibition organized by the Center for Burma Studies at NIU with financial support from a Luce Grant to conduct oral histories with recently resettled community members.

Image: Photograph of Karen Refugee Camp at the Thai Border by Darby Findley.

Refuge and Refugee
Rotunda and North Gallery

The work of ten artists including one from the Museum's permanent collection are presented in an examination of the global humanitarian crises as displaced persons forced to flee their native countries attempt to find refuge elsewhere. The artists, moved by current events and news reports, express their shock, horror, and critique of government polices as well as compassion for those impacted by these measures. Several of the artists with immigrant backgrounds relate their own struggles with identity to the inner struggle of missing home and attempting to adapt to a new land.

Artists were selected from a national call for entry by the exhibition advisory committee and include: Luciana Abait, Karen Albanese Campbell, Yolanda del Amo, Tere Garcia, Judith Joseph, Rebecca Keller, Eddy A. López, Stephen Walt and Kathy Weaver.

Image: Luciana Abait, Black Sky, 2018. Photograph on cotton rag paper, from the Displacement Series. (30" x 40").

Photograph of geographic map folded into mountainous terrain

Spring 2021
March 26 – May 15, 2021

"Very Well, Thank You": The Arts as a Means to Well Being

The exhibition investigates the unique role and way the visual and performing arts assist in maintaining social, psychological and physical health and happiness.

Artists were selected from a national call for entry and invited to participate because of their interest in presenting work that attempts to examine how the arts contribute to well-being through visual harmony, balance, color, humor, being in the moment and process.

Featuring artists: Jan Bolander, Cynthia A. Boudreau, Zachary Cahill, Donna Castellanos, Whit Forrester, Jeanne Garrett, Maria Gedroc, Jessica Gondek, Andrew Ellis Johnson, Judith Joseph, Savannah Jubic, Cleo Krueger, Dean Krueger, Lim Sieu Lian (SLim), Christina Loraine, Julie A. Mars, Benjamin Merritt, Taweesak Molsawat, Alfred Stark, Linda Stein, Veronica Storc, Rhonda Wheatley and Unidentified.

Images top to bottom: Rhonda Wheatley. "Get Woke to Self" series, 2018. Found objects, natural/organic elements encased in resin; Julie A. Mars. Flat Earth, 2018. Bead weaving on a found object thrift store bowl; Whit Forrester. Fig. 43 Aloe Vera, San Francisco, CA. 2016. Archival inkjet print with applied gold leaf, (44 x 62 in. edition of three); Savannah Jubic. Thoughts should pass, 2019. Warp painted cotton, (40 x 36 in.). All images courtesy the artists.

"Well Enough, Considering...": Artists take a mid-pandemic look at COVID-19
North Gallery

Winter 2021
January 12 – February 26, 2021

Narrative Art Exhibition Suite

From the Mind of Ellen Roth Deutsch
North Gallery

From the Mind of Ellen Roth Deutsch features Deutsch's work from several decades in which she revisits various complex themes through symbolic characters and metaphorical imagery. Deutsch tackles experiences of sexual abuse, depression, illness and death through imagery that caricatures, digs in and dramatizes. Notable museums and galleries including the Newberry Library, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, State of Illinois Gallery in Chicago and the National Museum of Women in the Arts have exhibited Deutsch's work.

Mirth and Mayhem: Landis Blair Selections of Drawings and Books
Hall case Gallery

Mirth and Mayhem: Landis Blair Selections of Drawings and Books contains illustrations from books by Landis Blair, whose stories contain elements of taboo, nihilism and whimsy. Blair's black and white imagery evokes inspiration from Edward Gorey and often includes dark and absurd humor, lulling the reader through rhyming descriptions of vignette scenes. On view are illustrations from The Envious Siblings and Other Morbid Nursery Rhymes; The Progressive Problem and The Regressive Solution; A Toasted Passion; and Whetting Engines.

Storied References
Rotunda and South Galleries

Storied References is a group exhibition curated by invitation and from a national call for entry featuring artwork that grapples with the harsh truths of contemporary reality while employing familiar narrative motifs found in oral traditions, fairy tales, fables, myths and legends. As humans we have always sought to understand ourselves and the world around us through the stories we tell each other. Artists translate verbal and literary narratives into visual language, sometimes retelling stories from a new perspective: mashing them up, stripping them down or retelling them through the lens of feminism, cultural or personal experience.

Storied References features artists: Kamal Al Mansour, Aodan, Michael Barnes, Brandin Barón, Sarah Bielski, K. Johnson Bowles, Kathy Bruce, Patricia Constantine, Ross Everett, Richard Gessert, Ronald Gonzalez, Heidi Jensen, Andrew Ellis Johnson, B. Lynch, Firoz Mahmud, Sarah Martin, Joseph Miller, Kel Mur, B. Quinn, Amy Schissel, Aaron Sizemore, Jason Tannen, Rhonda Urdang, Lauren Woods.

These exhibitions contain mature content and may not be suited for all audiences.

NIU School of Art and Design Faculty Biennial Continuum (January 14 – March 18, extended September 8 – November 14, 2020)