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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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Art Criticism: “A Gallery of Their Own”

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Tired, and thinking of far too many final assignments that need to be completed, the newest Borzello showcase came at just the right time. Upon entering Borzello Gallery, there was a visible air of severity to all of the works within. Muted pallets, dark material, and stark contrast filled each piece. While there was no expectation for whimsy or lyrical beauty for women artists spearheading misogyny in their fields of interest, this mood was certainly a tone setter. However, there was still surprise to be had. 

The title “A Gallery of Their Own,” was inspired by Virgina Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own.” It is a feminist student curated exhibit of works from Knox College’s own art collection. The exhibit was curated by students in the Art Museum Curating course led by Art History Professor Gregory Gilbert. Its purpose is to showcase many works of art done by both renowned and lesser-known women artists spanning from the 19th-20th century. 

The show overall was well curated and designed, with the works used all feeling cohesive despite being from many different artists with diverse backgrounds and mediums. Some of the artwork is quite famous, one in particular standing out was Käthe Kollwitz’s The Mothers. 

The woodcut had several prints created during 1922-23. Severe and haunting, the piece consists of black ink on white paper. The piece consists of several women partially obscured by shadows and other figure’s bodies as they huddle tightly together, the occasional face of a child peeking out from behind them and the shadows. Every carved line of the woodcut beautifully and carefully reveals several faces, each one illuminated dimly. Most of the faces are bare hints at features and wide, terrified eyes. The huddle, expressions, and composition of the piece conveys a level of fear and desperation that is beyond words. Every moment of quiet contemplation and examination of the piece reveals another detail that sends a shiver through you. 

The piece is from Kollwitz’s War series, inspired by her son’s death in WWI. The mothers in this scenario are huddled around their children to protect them from political violence. Many of Kollwitz’s anti-war works promoted maternal love as a means of protest against patriarchal ideologies of war. 

A break from the serious tone of the gallery was Dorthea Tanning’s Study for Dimanche Aprês-Midi (Sunday Afternoon), 1953. 

Several of Tanning’s works were in the gallery. Tanning was a former Knox student and resident of Galesburg, later New York. Tanning originally worked on Macy’s advertisements. 

The piece in question is lesser known, but no less beautiful. It depicts a young woman playing piano, with wisps of smoke flowing over and up from her. She is caught in what appears to be ellation while playing. The piece is one of Tanning’s surrealist works and the expressive, light, flowing marks of pencil capture a dreamlike essence of ephemeral joy. The piece is full of movement and life, and as everything reaches upward, the sensation of being uplifted washes over you. It’s stunning. A very simple piece but expertly done. The shading is masterful and the entire piece is light and breezy, giving the impression of gazing through a layer of sheer fabric at the scene. 

Another quiet beauty is Champions of the Mississippi: A Race for the Buckhorns, by Frances Flora Bond Palmer, 1866. 

The piece depicts a “masculine” sport of steamboat racing, done with Palmer’s “feminine” touch of moonlit colors. The painting is a wonderfully composed piece that is moody and dark while also full of a mischievous joy. It feels like the painting is inviting you into this scene of watching perhaps illegal races on the mississippi river. The color pallet is full of warm rich blues and deep reds and oranges. There is a level of analytical detail to the ships that make them feel almost photographic in their quality. Everything has the air of being meticulously crafted, as the three boats sail towards the viewer, with several figures on the riverside in front of a bonfire cheering raucously for them. 

The show ends on June 4th, 2023. It has a wide breadth of artworks, and there’s something for everyone.

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About the Contributor
Red Engel
Red Engel, Graphics Editor
Sasse/Red Engel '25, (he/they) is an Art History major with a Chemistry minor. They joined TKS in 2021 as the graphics editor and have continued in that position since. He is in charge of social media and the creation of the magazines. He is from Chicago, Illinois, and their current goal in life is to work one day at DC Comics, as a comic book artist.

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