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Antioch College

On Thursday, Feb. 8, “amuse-bouche,” a new exhibition featuring works by staff and faculty at Antioch College opened to the public. The exhibition, on display at Herndon Gallery, runs through March 5 and is available to view Thursdays through Satudays, 1–4 p.m., or by appointment. Above, patrons view the work of Olive Kettering Library Director Emily Samborsky. (Photo by Ely Lombardi)

Antioch College | ‘amuse-bouche’ exhibition highlights staff, faculty art

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By Ely Lombardi

“amuse-bouche” — a new exhibition centering the creative accomplishments of Antioch College’s staff and faculty — opened Thursday, Feb. 8, at the Herndon Gallery.

The title of the exhibition is borrowed from a French culinary term that typically refers to a small appetizer served free of charge, by the special arrangement of the chef, as a bite-sized introduction to their culinary work.

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Michael Casselli, associate professor of sculpture and installation at Antioch College and creative director of the Herndon Gallery, said he chose the name to illustrate how showcasing samples of creative work produced by everyone on campus, not just the faculty traditionally considered to be artists, grants those in the community the chance to “see a side of people that [we] didn’t really know was there, but that isn’t any less important to who they are.”

Reverberations of the COVID-19 pandemic’s lockdowns — isolation, Zoom calls and societal and personal upheaval — permeate the exhibition as an unintentional, but no less powerful, unifying theme. However, this period did not uniformly affect those with artwork represented in the show.

For some, like Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning Amy Osborne, the shutdowns represented a disruption, closing down the studio where they produced the blown glass sculptures included in the show. For others, like Emily Samborsky, director of the Olive Kettering Library, the period granted the ability to revitalize their artistic practice.

Samborsky said that “the pandemic was the first time [they] could sit still since college,” allowing them to reconnect with themself and their immediate family through the series of portraits on display.

For still others, like Cary Campbell, associate professor of French language and culture, the lockdowns were a source of inspiration. Campbell’s submission, an arrangement of a traditional Nordic hymn, came palpably out of the pandemic period. Despite having spent about a year in California before college, writing two to three songs a week while trying to build a career in music, Campbell said he does not play any instruments at the performance level. With his church shuttered and the choir with which he typically works closed down for over a year, he was forced to look closer to home to have his compositions heard. Ultimately, he opted to create an arrangement of  the piece, which serves as a key part of the exhibition’s soundscape, using only instruments played by his children.

Casselli hopes to mount a staff and faculty exhibition about every two years. He said he also hopes to present not only the creative accomplishments of staff and faculty, but their academic work as well. Queen Zabriskie, resident scholar and acting director of the Coretta Scott King Center, plans to speak on their recent scholarship exploring the ways in which Chicago’s West African dance communities use their art to resist, and liberate themselves from, systems of oppression. Zabriskie will be bringing this research presentation, last heard as part of the University of Illinois’s prestigious ECCE Speaker Series, to the Herndon Gallery, free of charge and open to the public, later this month.

The current exhibition, “amuse-bouche,” will be on display through March 5 and is available to view Thursdays through Saturdays, 1–4 p.m., or by appointment. 

*Ely Lombardi is a student at Antioch College and the editor of The Antioch Record.

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