Sculpture not all monuments and mountains


Meghan Connell | Northern Star John Balsley’s “Fallen” is on display at the In the House: Sculptures for the Home gallery located in the NIU Art Museum in Altgeld Hall 116.

By Aurora Schnorr

DeKALB | The Fall exhibition “In the House: Sculpture for the Home,” opened this week at the NIU Art Museum in Altgeld Hall. Displayed among two other exhibitions (“In the Studio and Garden” and “On the Body and In the Hand”) “In the House” is in stiff competition vying for student attention.

The exhibit is a bit less accessible than the others, in content. Peter Olson, Assistant Director of the Art Museum, explained that the work of John Balsley, just across the hall, has a strong appeal to students.

“His work has an inherent kind of juxtaposition of the universal and the personal,” Olson said.

Mari Oates, junior anthropology major and art museum employee agrees.

“It’s like hearing a song and feeling it was written about you, even though you have never met the songwriter,” Oates said.

Diana Arntzen, Coordinator of Marketing and Education for the museum, said “In the House: Sculpture for the Home” is an attempt to draw focus from the monumental sculptures.

When you think sculpture, normally your mind wanders to Mount Rushmore, David, maybe even to an eight-foot bronze version of Rocky Balboa. But either way, people tend to assume all statues and sculpture are large scale and inaccessible, This exhibition is full of smaller pieces, that a person would be able to to display in their own house. They range from internal organ-type figures covered in staples and made of magazines and cardboard (“Parable” by Jerry Bleem) to a sort of fan-driven mobile (“Underdog” by Juan Angel Chavez).

“There’s a lamp that, when it’s lit up, is so amazing,” Oates said about her favorite piece, Half-Splash Lamp.

The work, by Gary Justis, is a lamp like you’ve never experienced. Set into an alcove of the museum, the piece looks like a robotic stained glass window. A LED light shines through an intricate, stylized splash-shaped glass to create a projection on the wall behind. The projection, though not actually moving, gives you a sense of rippling water.

“I thought it was cool, and then she turned it on, and I was like, ‘OK, mind blown. I have to walk away,'” Oates said.

Though the exhibition is admittedly not as immediately captivating as John Balsley’s “In the Studio and Garden,” it still is a fantastic collection of regional artists. Plus, it is the only place on campus you can see huge wooden busts and organs covered in staples – in the same room at least.