Carleton’s “Teaching Exhibitions” Take Curricular Classroom Work into the Gallery

28 October 2012

Two small exhibitions currently on display at the Carleton College Perlman Teaching Museum in the Weitz Center for Creativity connect curricular work in history and French to art objects from around the globe. Both exhibits are on display in the Kaemmer Family Gallery of the Perlman Teaching Museum through November 14, 2012.

Visualizing Friends and Enemies in the Socialist World” is an extension of a seminar led by David Tompkins, assistant professor of history and director of European studies. The exhibit analyzes socialist propaganda from Russia, China, Cuba, and elsewhere. And under the guidance of Christine Lac, senior lecturer in French, “People, Places, Things: La culture en deçà des clichés” explores the cultural significance of people, places, and things as represented by French and Francophile artists.

Both exhibits will be discussed by student experts in an art talk on Thursday, Nov. 1, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Weitz Center for Creativity Commons.

“Visualizing Friends and Enemies in the Socialist World,” presenting posters and other artifacts, focuses on the major communist countries of the Soviet Union and China, but also East Germany, Poland, and Cuba. These objects, borrowed from regional collections and from Carleton, span the early 1940s through the 1980s.  Powerful visuals from public and private contexts help us understand the ideological frame shaping the lives of hundreds of millions of ordinary citizens during much of the previous century.

“People, Places, Things” is aimed at students in the first course of the French language sequence, and provides myriad opportunities to connect class materials to authentic cultural products from France.  The English exhibition title, People, Places, Things, may remind some readers of the Facebook search box, and others of the traditional definition of a noun. Both associations reinforce the pedagogical purpose of this exhibit: words and their connections! The nouns and names represented in this exhibit have high iconic value.

Beyond the initial pleasure of recognition and aesthetic experience, students and other viewers are invited to tackle la culture en deçà des clichés, or “culture below the surface.” These images, functioning as cultural “snapshots,” reveal volumes about people, places, and things in France.

Both exhibits are supported by Visualizing the Liberal Arts (Viz), an initiative made possible with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Viz initiative enables Carleton to be a leader in developing innovative ways to address the challenges that faculty, students, and staff encounter as they work to create, interpret, and employ visual images, media, and models.

The Perlman Teaching Museum is located in the Weitz Center for Creativity at Third and College Streets. Hours are: Monday–Wednesday: 11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.; Thursday–Friday: 11:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.; Saturday: noon–4:00 p.m.; and Sunday: closed. For more information, call 507-222-4342 or 4469 or visit