Students Curate Art Exhibit on Voter Suppression

Students Curate Art Exhibit on Voter Suppression

At the Cooperstown Graduate Program, the professors believe the best way to learn is by doing. This fall, the “doing” was the unveiling of a unique, collaborative partnership between Golden Artist Colors and a team of Museum Studies students and faculty.

Our Votes, Our Stories CGP Students Group Photo
Our Votes, Our Stories CGP Students Help with Golden Artists Exhibit

The seed of an idea was planted in a conversation between Cooperstown Graduate Program (CGP) Director. Gretchen Sullivan Sorin and the co-founder and CEO of Golden Artist Colors, Mark Golden. How could the Chenango County-based manufacturer of colors and mediums for painting in acrylic, oil, watercolor and a young, eager group of SUNY Oneonta Museum Studies students partner on a meaningful project? The answer was the creation of a student-led, issues-forward art exhibit.

Dr. Gretchen Sullivan Sorin
Cooperstown Graduate Program Director Gretchen Sullivan Sorin

Our Votes, Our Stories. is an exhibition of paintings, sculptures and installations created by African American-focused artists to share their ideas about voting rights and inspire a renewed commitment to being active citizens. The unique exhibition launched in October and November at the Sam and Adele Golden Gallery in New Berlin, N.Y., and will move to the SUNY Oneonta campus in spring 2024, for an installation in Lee Hall during Black History Month.

“At the Cooperstown Graduate Program, we practice constructive dialogue. As teacher- scholars, we strive to prepare our students to support community discussions on human rights, social justice, science, society and local issues in their future museum positions,” says Dr. Sorin, CGP director and Distinguished Service Professor of Museum Studies. "We give our students real-life opportunities to apply their skills and encourage our students to be active agents of change. The Our Votes, Our Stories exhibit is a great example of the Cooperstown Graduate Program approach in action.”

What began as a class project in Dr. Sorin’s African American art class extended beyond the classroom walls. The ultimate public exhibition is the result of students working together across several classes and semesters. Curator Jimmy Nunn Jr. '22 identified and coordinated the unique selection of artists’ works. And Museum Studies graduate students, including August Stromberger ’23, Sophia Hall ’23, Morgan Pigott ’23 and Tatum Hoff ’24, managed the exhibition coordination from artist discovery, to catalog content and layout, to writing the museum labels to guide viewers through the works and their place in the overall exhibit narrative.

“I am grateful to be a part of this hands-on experience to learn the craft of exhibitions and community partnership as a graduate student,” says Nunn. “The topic of this exhibition – voter suppression - is needed now more than ever. I am thankful for all the incredible artists in this show, who speak up and fight for justice. Exhibitions like this and the conversations that they bring about are needed now more than ever.”

**photography provided by Jodi L. O’Dell, Public Relations Manager at Golden Artist Colors, Inc.

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