University Art Galleries Reopen

Masters of Fine Arts candidate Krislyn Koehn's Wonder thesis exhibition will be on display in the Stark Galleries July 7-19.

Art brings people together and now, once again, Aggies can connect through the displays at the MSC University Art Galleries.

After being closed for months due to COVID-19, the Forsyth Galleries and J. Wayne Stark Galleries opened their doors on July 1 with three new art exhibitions.

According to the University Art Galleries website, one of the new collections, Stark Galleries’ Interior Monologues, was designed to resonate with the public who have been social distancing.

“Reflecting the country’s recent extended period of self-isolation due to the coronavirus, artworks in the show were selected to suggest themes of isolation and/or enclosure,” the website reads.

The other Stark Galleries exhibition showcases a medium that doesn’t often come to mind when thinking about fine art: chairs. The Art of Seating: Two Hundred Years of American Design is a touring exhibition by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Florida, that contains 40 chairs as well as patents, artistic drawings and presentations on the subject.

“Few objects tell the history of modern design as eloquently as the chair,” the University Art Galleries website reads. “Aesthetics trends, the emergence of new technologies, ergonomics, and social and cultural developments are all reflected in the evolution of chair design.”

According to University Art Galleries assistant director Elizabeth Appleby, Forsyth Galleries’ A Tale of Two Collections pairs artworks from the Stark and Forsyth Galleries’ collections to highlight the similarities and differences between the themes, subjects, artists and color palettes of the pieces.

“While I am confident that our visitors will enjoy the pairings highlighted by the art in the exhibit, I hope that they will discover how art at its best [that is] made by different people from different cultures and times throughout society has a wonderful ability to challenge and inspire,” Appleby said.

Another exhibition will be on display July 7-19 in Stark Galleries — M.F.A. candidate Krislyn Koehn’s thesis collection entitled Wonder.

“Having endured nauseating heights, flash floods, and a horrifically intimate bear encounter, I learned to appreciate nature for its unpredictability,” Koehn said. “We can only truly experience wonder when faced with things beyond our control. This collection was inspired by my own experiences of nature and childhood, fear and wonder.”

The collection, which Koehn has been creating for over two years, covers a range of mediums including charcoal, animation and ceramics.

“Mastering any visual art form starts with learning to look at things in a different way,” Koehn said. “Ultimately, every medium is a tool in the artist's toolbox. You have to assess what you want to accomplish, then pick the right tool for the job. Having more tools means better options and wider possibilities.”

Koehn will defend her thesis on July 9 and begins a new job in Downtown Bryan as a resident artist in August.

“The Brazos Arts Council will provide me with a live-in studio space downtown to produce my work and interact with the community,” Koehn said. “I feel like I really had something significant to say, and that gave me the motivation to see it through.”

In light of the recent Black Lives Matter movement, the Reynolds Gallery in the MSC will reopen with a new exhibition, Black Artists Matter, on July 8. Patrons can also view the Visual Arts Committee’s ArtFest 2020 virtually at

While Gov. Greg Abbott announced on May 1 that museums could reopen, Appleby said the staff has spent the last two months preparing the new collections and ensuring that all local and CDC guidelines can be followed in the galleries.

“We realize that each of us plays a role in a safe reopening, with social distancing, face masks, and additional health and safety precautions in place to ensure the safety of our visitors and staff,” Appleby said. “We also recognize that circumstances may change at any moment and will adapt to provide as safe an experience as is possible.”

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