W&L’s Staniar Gallery Daily Ethics Mosaic Exhibition Opens Jan. 10 The large-scale community artwork created as part of a Mudd Center program will be on view in Wilson Hall's Lykes Atrium through Feb. 9.
The Daily Ethics Mosaic is an exciting new feature of this year’s Mudd Center for Ethics program, “Daily Ethics: How Individual Choices and Habits Express Our Values and Shape Our World”. This art project is a collaborative venture between the Mudd Center and Staniar Gallery. W&L students, staff and faculty generated a large-scale community artwork in a series of workshops held during Fall Term 2021. Workshops were led by Richmond-based artist Jonathan Lee, whose socially engaged art practice has guided innovative and inspiring community projects such as Who is Downtown and Curriculum Lab.
“The mosaic project was an opportunity for members of our community to come together, after more than a year of pandemic-related disruption and isolation, to think and create together,” said Karla Murdock, director of the Mudd Center.
“Taking the time to contemplate our own personal values and ethics seems especially important in this moment,” said Clover Archer, director of Staniar Gallery. “Art can be an accessible means of expression and communication; one that is is open to everyone. This collaboration between Staniar Gallery and the Mudd Center emphasizes these ideas.”
Workshop participants completed a workbook to prompt their introspection about their most important personal values and how they may be manifested in daily life. They produced an individual artwork to visually represent their ideas, and once this piece was photographed, they worked in small groups to deconstruct the individual pieces and reconstruct them into a collective mosaic. The full collection of individual and group artworks can be viewed online here.
“Since most of us are not in the habit of making art, participating in the mosaic project was a low-stakes way to exercise the creative and visual sides of ourselves,” Murdock said. “Art-making might take us one-half step outside of our comfort zones, which makes it a perfect way to stimulate meaningful introspection about our own lives and how our values might be expressed each day. Together, we have built a giant and beautiful expression of our individual and collective ideas about daily ethics. I cannot wait for the community to see the final product.”
The mosaic will be on view in Wilson Hall’s Lykes Atrium Jan. 10 – Feb. 9, 2022. There will be an exhibition event on Jan. 25 to celebrate the project’s completion. The event will begin in Wilson Hall’s Concert Hall at 5:30 p.m., with an artist’s talk by Jonathan Lee followed by a reception across the hall in Lykes Atrium.
Lee earned his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and his master’s from Wayne State University. He is the academic support librarian at Reynolds Community College. Lee’s studio practice explores ephemeral memory, secret histories and social constructions; often through abstracting activated materials. “My social practice [to art-making] is different from my studio practice because it’s not exclusively centered around my interests or choices,” said Lee. “It’s dependent on the involvement of others and driven by whatever they contribute. Everyone who participates is a collaborating artist, applying their own unique imagination and point of view to the questions posed. My mission as the lead artist is to provide a flexible and sound framework on which both individual and group experiences can form. Those experiences make the work possible.”
The exhibition and related events are free and open to the public. All attendees are expected to be masked indoors in compliance with the university’s COVID-19 guidelines.
The Mudd Center was established in 2010 through a gift to the university from award-winning journalist Roger Mudd, a 1950 graduate of W&L. By facilitating collaboration across traditional institutional boundaries, the center aims to encourage a multidisciplinary perspective on ethics informed by both theory and practice. Previous Mudd Center lecture series topics have included Global Ethics in the 21st Century, Race and Justice in America, The Ethics of Citizenship, Markets and Morals, Equality and Difference, The Ethics of Identity and The Ethics of Technology.