Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Perlman Museum caps off exhibit with Art Night

On Apr. 11, the Perlman Teaching Museum hosted a Cozy Art Night from 7 to 8:30 p.m.  in the museum space and Weitz atrium to conclude the exhibit “Towards A Warm Embrace.” The exhibit included artwork from two disabled artists, Carleton alum Finnegan (Finn) Shannon ’11 and Ezra Benus, including “Hot Hang,” a relaxation space with heating pads that the artists designed. For the art night, the Office of Health Promotion (OHP) and the Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR) collaborated with  Perlman staff and student workers to create activities related to the artworks in the exhibit or that fit in with the cozy theme.

Sara Cluggish, the director of the Perlman Teaching Museum, said that “all of the activities came from student responses to the exhibition,” adding that when planning the art night, the museum student workers were excited about “doing things that are hands-on” and “taking ownership of the space.”

To create a cozy atmosphere, the event included a station to make friendship bracelets as well as a hot cocoa station at which attendees could make snowmen out of marshmallows. While attendees could not bring hot cocoa into the museum itself, the warming effect of the hot cocoa complemented the theme of the “Hot Hang” exhibit. Sara Cluggish, the director of the Perlman Teaching Museum, said that the friendship bracelets are a “wider metaphor for our connection to one another,” noting that “accessibility is only possible when we’re in community with one another.” She elaborated on how community and friendship are overarching themes of the exhibit, mentioning that Shannon and Benus had been friends for a while before working together on their art.

Cluggish also explained that Shannon and Benus learned strategies to navigate inaccessible spaces from one another. Shannon, for example, saw Benus using a heating pad in public spaces and decided to do so as well. “Hot Hang” is an extension of that mindset, and students frequented that space as a comfortable place to do homework or to rest. The heating pads were so popular that the Office of Health Promotion led students in creating rice packs that they can heat and use like heating pads.

Another well-liked part of the exhibit was “What I can offer right now”: a collection of tissue box holders with contrasting phrases that represent the simultaneous visibility and minimization of chronic illness. Cluggish mentioned that “the tissue box work was one that [she] just really [felt] like students have enjoyed.” To that end, the Perlman Teaching Museum hosted an activity for making similar tissue box covers. They utilized the Makerspace to create  materials for the activity, using laser cutters to make shapes from pieces of felt so that students could personalize their work.

Together, OAR and Perlman staff put together a station for creating a community self-portrait based on Shannon’s work, “Self Portrait,” which is a series of statements that describe their lived experience as a disabled person. Cluggish explained that when Shannon was at Carleton, their art was much more geometric and abstract, but they later shifted towards using text in their artwork. Words have become a vehicle for speaking directly to a viewer about their experience being disabled. In order to create the self-portrait , Shannon compiled a series of questions and prompts that they then answered. The Perlman Teaching Museum then adapted these questions to appeal to a wider audience when designing the activity. To contribute to the community self-portrait, attendees picked out colored notecards and wrote a response to one of the questions, then put their notecard on the wall to be featured in the final weekend of the exhibit.

The most important components of the art night were the accessibility-oriented tours. The museum led a touch tour of the exhibit in which participants could touch selected artworks. Meanwhile, a audio tour of the exhibit, which Perlman student workers and OAR peer leaders recorded, played in the background. Both of these make the tour accessible to the low-vision and blind community, and they allow a general audience to experience the exhibit from a different lens.

At the end of the art night, the Perlman held a raffle for “cozy kits,” which included OAR mugs, gratitude journals, hot chocolate and other giveaways. The exhibit is still open for the weekend.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *