In honor of the new exhibit “Community – Collaboration – Craft: A Glimpse of Art at OSU” in our foyer, I interviewed archivist Karl McCreary to learn more about his reason for displaying this aspect of OSU history.
What is your role in SCARC?
I review materials offered to the OSU Archives by campus departments, faculty, alumni, and associated organizations for permanent and historical value. For documentation of archival value, I describe their contents in a way to increase their accessibility for research. This all means I see a lot of cool things to share.
Why did you choose this exhibit topic?
Personal interest in random crafty things. I’ve reached out to and been a part of the art community here on campus since I started working here in 2000. This has been through the Craft Center and community shows at La Sells, where I have pieces displayed currently!
Why do you think it’s important to showcase this topic? Who do you think it will appeal to?
Anyone with an imagination will love this. It’s just fun. And it’s important to remember OSU isn’t just a science school. I wanted to highlight the other aspects of campus and art is very visible on campus.
What is your favorite item in the exhibit?
Since I can only pick one, I would have to say the Danceramics. They have a fascinating background and story behind them. Although she was an instructor of modern and creative dance from 1927-1972, Betty Lynd Thompson was inspired to replicate modern dance moves in clay, a form of art she called “danceramics.” These ceramic pieces were also given as awards.
What surprised you the most in looking for materials?
Well, this is a culmination of years and years of seeing amazing things come into the archives. But I think the most surprising things I found in the Memorabilia Collection when I was just looking for information and not actual items to display. Some of these found items actually made it into the exhibit, like the art exhibit flyers from the 1930s-1950s.
Was there anything you wish you could have included but couldn’t?
Lots of things! But I think we did a good job including some aspect of everything that needed to be included…even film from a class project in 2006 or 2007!
If people want to know more, what are other collections they could look at?
Check out the Memorabilia Collection and the Art Department Records, or just email me (karl.mccreary at oregonstate.edu). That’s probably the easiest since some of these collections aren’t fully described or open to the public yet.
Are you ready to do another exhibit? What exhibit would you like to do next?
Who knows! Creating this exhibit had a huge learning curve…thank god for Tiah and Natalia! But there is still so much more to do with this current exhibit, including talks in the Collections at the Center series and an open crafty event.
Exhibit will run until May 31 in the foyer outside of Special Collections and there will be a catered reception on February 15, from 4-6pm in the reading room. Stay tuned for other exhibit events coming up!