MIWSFPA students take stock of Brock’s fine arts collection

From familiar sculptures to hidden treasures in campus hallways, Brock is home to a significant arts collection. This summer, a team of Brock students and staff are hunting down every piece to update the University’s fine arts inventory.

Building on the work of past employees, the group is updating the University’s records on more than 1,700 pieces, including valuable assets in Archives and Special Collections at the James A. Gibson Library. Several of the works are significant pieces with cultural property status.

“Some people don’t realize that items they see on campus are art or that there’s context behind them. These are important works,” says Mandy Salter, an Art Consultant and member of the International Society of Appraisers working with Brock’s staff and student team on the inventory. “They contribute to the context of the University and the liveliness of the campus.”

For the current phase of the project, she’ll be working with two Studio Art students from the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), who will canvass public spaces, storage units, staff areas and offices in main campus and MIWSFPA buildings to update the inventory.

Emily MacDonald, a fourth-year student, and Alex Janecek, a third-year student, are spending the summer collecting the exact location and condition of each piece while also taking new photographs for Brock’s records.

The project allows visual artists like MacDonald and Janecek to get a behind-the-scenes look at how fine art objects are created and then conserved in places like museums and galleries, says Salter.

“It’s a very interesting project,” says MacDonald. “I’m having a lot of fun searching around. It kind of feels like being a detective in a way, trying to figure out where these pieces are and what they’re doing now.”

MacDonald has a passion for art conservation and says that evaluating the condition of pieces and thinking about the way they’re displayed is a “great learning opportunity.”

Janecek agrees and is grateful to gain experience in her field of study.

“It’s so interesting to learn what we look for in evaluating a piece of work or what needs to be done to preserve it properly,” says Janecek, who is considering applying some of the lessons learned through the project to the way she preserves her own work.

The updated inventory will allow Brock to determine the current fair market value of the collection, which was appraised at about $7 million a few years ago, says Frank Marcella, Associate Director, Enterprise Risk Management and Insurance. He has been working on the inventory project for almost two years with Ivana Frajdenfeld, Operations Co-ordinator, Internal Audit/University Risk Management.

An updated inventory will also support future conservation efforts and research initiatives while strengthening Brock’s role as a centre for the arts in Niagara.

“Universities everywhere, not just Brock, have a role to play as cultural hubs in their communities,” says Marcella.

To learn more about the project, email Marcella at fmarcella@brocku.ca

Read more stories in: Digital Displays, Faculty & staff, Humanities, News
Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,