The University of Michigan-Dearborn Department of Art Collections and Exhibitions preserves, displays, and interprets a treasured art collection that has been acquired by the university over the past four decades. The collection consists of 20th and 21st century artwork of all media and styles with a large portion being studio glass. Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, Jacob Lawrence, Electra Stamelos, Vera Sattler, Howard Ben Tré, Fred Birkhill, Herb Babcock, and Dale Chihuly are just a few of the globally known artists represented.
The university owns more than 3000 pieces of artwork, many of which were donated by Alfred Berkowitz and Bill and Electra Stamelos, close friends of UM-Dearborn and curator emeritus Joseph Marks. The many prized watercolor, acrylic and oil paintings by late artist and former art professor Electra Stamelos are a collection highlight. Generous glass donations from William and Nancy Culp and Richard and Louise Abrahams have been notable recent additions.
The Art Collections and Exhibitions Department enhances the academic and educational experiences of students, faculty, staff and the general public by displaying this remarkable collection throughout campus, loaning it to other institutions, making it accessible for research, and curating and managing a thriving exhibition program in the Alfred Berkowitz Gallery. Exhibitions featured in the art gallery, located on campus in the Mardigian Library, utilize artworks from the permanent collection and on loan from other institutions, as well as current work from renowned regional and national artists.
Many gallery exhibitions are designed to complement and augment university curriculum. UM-Dearborn students and faculty have the unique opportunity to directly research and interact with the artwork in the collection. In addition, the gallery allows museum studies students the opportunity to gain professional experience curating and installing exhibitions within a working art gallery, as well as writing and publishing exhibition catalogs. The department also offers internships for students interested in curation and collections management.
Highly esteemed American glass artist Dale Chihuly (b. 1941) is widely acknowledged for his role in promoting the recognition of studio glass as a fine art form. With this work, Chihuly returned to his “pick-up drawing” technique used previously in his Basket series. This time, Chihuly and his team used shard drawings to obtain more colorful compositions and intricate design patterns. The process begins with blowing a bubble and breaking it into shards. Glass threads are fused to the shard pieces with a torch in designs reflecting Navajo Blanket patterns. The detailed shard piece is then surrounded by additional glass threads and laid out on a steel table called a marver. A molten glass form on a blowpipe is then rolled over the shards and threads fusing the pieces together to form the end result, a Soft Cylinder.
---Laura Cotton, Art Curator and Gallery Manager