Arts + Issues 1

The Christian Petersen Art Museum is nearly empty during the scheduled Arts + Issues discussion. Arts + Issues commonly using the existing exhibits in discussions about how world events can relate to art.

Arts + Issues, a program that has been running at Iowa State since 2016, may be cancelled in the coming school year due to lack of community attendance. This program has been hosting student-led discussions once a month, but low attendance numbers have cancelled recent events.

Nancy Gebhart, educator of Visual Literacy and Learning, and student intern, Savannah Falter, believe the low attendance may be caused by students' busy schedules. They have been holding the events in the middle of the day, yet people have not been attending this semester. 

"It is just a chance to have a discussion in the museum, a somewhat informal discussion, but using art as a way of guiding a discussion on events or contemporary issues. Things that are going on in the world that people are sort of processing and thinking about. We try to connect it to either the exhibitions of the museums in general in some way ... it is just meant to encourage dialogue," Gebhart said.

While the topic changes every month, the event scheduled on March 26 was supposed to cover the idea of the art museum as a theme park, or entertainment, according to Falter, who was supposed to be leading the discussion. Falter has been working with Gebhart for almost a year.

"Some museums are kind of catering their exhibitions towards providing more entertainment than necessarily like critical response to art," explained Falter. She said the talk would also mention the Des Moines Art Center exhibition entitled "Drawing in Space."

Part of the decision to stop was the success and high attendance drawn in by the ReACT Gallery. According to Gebhart, the ReACT Gallery provides the sort of discussion Art + Issues provided. They will not be combining the events, and they will not be using the Art + Issues name or title. After the event on April 30, they will not have any more scheduled.

"[The] opportunity we have to create dialogue with people that maybe have differing opinions, or different points of view in a way of coming together to try to understand the broader human experience I think is important," said Gebhart. "I think that there is a lot of negativity right now. I also think that there is a lot happening and a lot going on, so allowing and creating a space for people to process things and understand how they are feeling ... I think the more we do that on campus the better." 

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