OU exhibit transports art students to Rome

Aaliyah Covington | Reporter

The Immortales: Hall of Emperors exhibit at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art brings OU art students close up to some of Rome’s most valued treasures.

1Originally from the Capitoline Museums in Rome, Italy, the exhibit showcases 20 sculpted marble portraits of classical figures from Roman history. Senior Vice President and Provost Kyle Harper said that this opportunity is really once in a lifetime.

“Everything came together perfectly for us to have a chance to be the first and only in the United States with this collection,” Harper said.

Through OU’s partnership with renewable energy company Enel Green Power and its affiliation with the Capitoline Museum, the FJJMA was able to house the 20 marble busts for three months as part of EGP’s Hidden Treasures of Rome project.

Developed in 2014, EGP North America communications specialist Krista Barnaby said that the Hidden Treasures of Rome project is intended to create cultural bridges from across the world and promote the exploration of art and culture to prominent museums and universities worldwide.

2Since the sculptures’ are here for a limited time, art students and professors are taking the liberty to expose themselves to works that are usually seen thousands of miles away.

Visual communications major Olivia Walton said that she visited the Capitoline Museums in 2013. Although Walton didn’t get to see the exhibit in its original lodging, her eagerness to see the exhibit is still all the more present.

“It’s really exciting,” Walton said, “it’s like a little piece is at my school, like a few feet away.”

Others from the OU art community have visited the Capitoline Museums as well. Art history professor Dr. Allison Palmer said that when she visited, the museum possessed so many sculptures that it almost became overwhelming.

“You just see a bunch of it and it doesn’t have the same presence,” Palmer said. “Here it’s given a focus and you can look at them in a way that some how you can’t in Rome.”

Palmer is not the only one who shares this feeling. Director at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art Mark White has been overseeing the exhibit since the opening day. Since White has also visited the exhibits at the Capitoline Museums, he’s noticed a difference in experience between the two.

“The galleries at the Capitoline Museums are a rectangular hall and their all sitting on shelves and their fairly tight,” White said. “You can’t see them individually as easily.”

For art professors, having their students being able to get a closer look at the technical side of each piece is an opportunity not to miss. OU assistant professor of Figurative Sculpture Sohail Shehada teaches sculpture and drawing classes and has studied sculpture making in Rome. Since Shehada was able to receive a personal look at the methods Roman artists utilized, he wishes the same experience for his students.

“…this will give people the chance to see classical roman art,” Shehada said. “The only this is, I hope a lot of people will actually take the opportunity and just go and see it.”

Two of Shehada students fulfilled his expectation, both acknowledging the artistic and historical significance of the exhibit.

Art technology and culture sophomore Courtney Geller said that her first in encounter with the bust was surreal because she’s learned about them in her art history classes.

“… just to see them in them in the flesh was just really special,” Geller said.

Samantha Strothers, whose major is undecided, was also impressed by the historical background within each of the pieces.

“The history of all the shadows that have fallen on that art and all the people that have seen it and experience it is really cool,” Strothers said.

The Immortales: Hall of Emperors exhibit is available at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum till December 6 and admission is free.

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