The DeKalb County Community Foundation and the NIU Art Museum are thrilled to announce the Friends of NIU Art Museum Endowment Fund. This new Designated Fund provides annual financial support to the NIU Art Museum to further their mission of serving campus and community by balancing traditional and contemporary art to explore connections through visual culture. The Fund was created by long-time NIU supporters and local philanthropists, Jerry and Annette Johns.
“We are grateful to longtime friends of the museum, Annette and Jerry Johns, who generously thought to start this endowment fund,” said Josephine Burke, director of the NIU Art Museum. “Their foresight and valuing of cultural assets within the community will help to ensure our ability to continue to serve the greater DeKalb community now and in the future. This vital fund helps to support the museum’s exhibitions, programs and the preservation of its permanent collection.”
Since 2002, Jerry and Annette Johns have shared their passion for education, the arts, and the community they love through establishing several endowed Funds with the Community Foundation.
Annette’s diverse background and interests include studying and teaching in the areas of education (elementary and college level), reading, philosophy, and theatre arts. She has served as part of the Kishwaukee Symphony Associates, the Bethlehem Lutheran Church Food Pantry and Church Council, and as a docent with the Ellwood House.
Jerry, along with Annette, grew up in Michigan and received his Bachelor’s degree in education, a Master’s degree in elementary education, and a Ph.D. in education with a specialization in reading. He has served on the Board of Directors for a variety of local nonprofit organizations and has served through his church and campus ministry.
Jerry and Annette’s personal and professional interests are clearly reflected in the Funds that they directly spearheaded at the Foundation. “We feel very strongly about supporting local organizations that enrich all our lives,” they said. “The DeKalb County Community Foundation helps you put your money where your heart is.” The Funds they established include: Aikins Theatre Arts Award Fund, Ellwood House Museum Fund, Jerry and Annette Johns CommunityWorks Fund, Jerry and Annette Johns Future Teachers Scholarship Fund, Jerry L. Johns NIU Literacy Clinic Endowment Fund, Johns Family Donor Advised Fund, and the Friends of NIU Art Museum Endowment Fund.
Donations to any Fund at the Community Foundation, including the Friends of NIU Art Museum Endowment Fund, can be made online, or by mail to the DeKalb County Community Foundation, 475 DeKalb Avenue, Sycamore, Ill. 60178. For questions or additional information on how to start your own fund at the Community Foundation, please contact Executive Director Dan Templin at (815) 748-5383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Northern Illinois University Art Museum opens three exhibitions that consider narrative artwork and imagery Tuesday, January 12.
The exhibitions examine artworks’ ability to chronicle or present narrative themes that relay a series of events, subjects, or use storytelling through images. The exhibitions feature: the memorial tribute to local figurative artist Ellen Roth Deutsch and her expressive stories of self and other women; Chicago author and illustrator Landis Blair’s darkly humorous tales with absurdly gleeful imagery; and a curated national group exhibition of works referencing motifs found in oral traditions, fairy tales, fables, myths and legends. From the Mind of Ellen Roth Deutsch; Mirth and Mayhem: Landis Blair Selections of Drawings and Books; and Storied References all open January 12 and run through February 26 with a series of public virtual events presented online.
From the Mind of Ellen Roth Deutsch features Deutsch’s work from several decades in which she revisits various complex themes through symbolic characters and metaphorical imagery. Deutsch tackles experiences of sexual abuse, depression, illness and death through imagery that caricatures, digs in and dramatizes. Notable museums and galleries including the Newberry Library, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, State of Illinois Gallery in Chicago and the National Museum of Women in the Arts have exhibited Deutsch’s work.
Mirth and Mayhem: Landis Blair Selections of Drawings and Books contains illustrations from books by Landis Blair, whose stories contain elements of taboo, nihilism and whimsy. Blair’s black and white imagery evokes inspiration from Edward Gorey and often includes dark and absurd humor, lulling the reader through rhyming descriptions of vignette scenes. On view are illustrations from The Envious Siblings and Other Morbid Nursery Rhymes; The Progressive Problem and The Regressive Solution; A Toasted Passion; and Whetting Engines.
Landis Blair, Whetting Engines, 2019, Sastergoodment Press, Chicago. Drawing, 2018, (6 x 8 in.), Pen and ink.
Storied References is a group exhibition curated by invitation and from a national call for entry featuring artwork that grapples with the harsh truths of contemporary reality while employing familiar narrative motifs found in oral traditions, fairy tales, fables, myths and legends. As humans we have always sought to understand ourselves and the world around us through the stories we tell each other. Artists translate verbal and literary narratives into visual language, sometimes retelling stories from a new perspective: mashing them up, stripping them down or retelling them through the lens of feminism, cultural or personal experience.
Storied References features artists: Kamal Al Mansour, Aodan, Michael Barnes, Brandin Barón, Sarah Bielski, K. Johnson Bowles, Kathy Bruce, Patricia Constantine, Ross Everett, Richard Gessert, Ronald Gonzalez, Heidi Jensen, Andrew Ellis Johnson, B. Lynch, Firoz Mahmud, Sarah Martin, Joseph Miller, Kel Mur, B. Quinn, Amy Schissel, Aaron Sizemore, Jason Tannen, Rhonda Urdang, Lauren Woods.
These exhibitions contain mature content and may not be suited for all audiences. We recommend visitors contact the Museum before organizing visits with children or sensitive audiences.
Virtual Programs and Events
Thursday, February 4,
Hatched Stories Landis Blair Artist Talk
6:30 p.m., Virtual Event – Register online
Sunday, February 7, 2021
A glimpse into From the Mind and other work by Ellen Roth Deutsch
2:00 p.m., Virtual Event – Register online
Ellen Roth Deutsch, Will the Leopard Return?, 2008. (24.5 x 25 in.), Colored pencil, ink, collage – also referred to as The House of Ellen’s Mind.
Register for all virtual events online at niu.edu/artmuseum/events. Additional programs will be added throughout the exhibition’s run. Please continue to check our events page regularly or sign-up for email notifications at niu.edu/artmuseum/about/subscribe.
COVID-19 Visitor Information
Programming and gallery hours are subject to changes or cancelations during COVID-19. Feeling sick or unwell? We ask anyone feeling unwell to postpone their visit for another time. Visitors are welcome on campus, but we ask that you take the same precautions we ask our students, faculty and staff to protect yourself and others. Face masks are required whenever inside campus buildings; gallery capacity is currently limited to 6 people per gallery; timed entry can be scheduled online for your convenience and safety www.niu.edu/artmuseum; physical distancing is encouraged, please maintain 6 feet of distance from others; limited gallery hours remain in effect.
About the NIU Art Museum
Serving Campus and Community by Balancing Traditional and Contemporary Art to Explore the Connections Made through Visual Culture. Part of the College of Visual and Performing Arts‘ vibrant and active arts community on campus, the Northern Illinois University Art Museum is a resource for the NIU campus, local community and beyond.The NIU Art Museum is located on the first floor, west end of Altgeld Hall, at the corner of College Avenue and Castle Drives on the main campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. Parking is available in the Visitor Pay Lot located at 200 Carroll Ave.
Limited metered and accessible parking spaces are available in front of Lowden Hall with accessible aisles and route to Altgeld. Campus parking is free on weekends and after 5 p.m. weeknights. To request disability-related accommodations for museum programs, please contact the museum at least one week in advance. Northern Illinois University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution. NIU is an EO/AA institution.
The exhibitions and programs of the NIU Art Museum are sponsored in part by the Illinois Arts Council Agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts; the Friends of the NIU Art Museum; the NIU Arts and Culture Fee; and the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Season Presenting Sponsor Shaw Media.
Join Michael Barnes, Northern Illinois University School of Art and Design Professor of Art, Head of Printmaking and 2020 Presidential Research, Scholarship and Artistry Professor as he discusses lithography history and historic prints for the NIU Art Museum. The video can be viewed here, or on YouTube beginning at 7 p.m., Central Standard Time, Thursday, December 10.
You can also watch Barnes’ previous artist talk for the NIU Art Museum:
Professor Michael Barnes lectures from his home studio as he discusses lithography history and prints from his recently completed series. The Steindruck Müchen series was completed during a residency in Germany. Two of these prints were included in the Faculty Biennial Continuum exhibition and the full set is on view at a solo show at Brumfield Gallery in Astoria, Ore. View a video of Barnes printing work from the series.
Catherine Raymond, Director of the Center for Burma Studies at NIU and Professor of Art History in the School of Art and Design presented an online lecture for the NIU Art Museum, November 19 titled, Researching the Reverse Glass Painting Tradition Across Buddhist Southeast Asia.
The unique Burma Art Collection at Northern Illinois University encompasses one of the best assemblages of Burmese reverse glass painting from the 19th to 21st century outside of Southeast Asia. This imported art form —which originated earlier in Europe and was highly refined there— became very popular throughout Asia in the 18th century; first among the ruling elites, and then as an important cultural commodity, initially for an export market and subsequently for serving local religious purposes. In this lecture, Catherine Raymond will retrace her journey as an art historian researching the arrival and evolution in Mainland Southeast Asia of this challenging and evidently vanishing technique, yet finding it still widely produced in Burma for devotional artifacts in service both to Buddhism and the cult of the Nat Spirits.
Professor Raymond’s research was funded by a Rakow Grant from the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY
One of the most talked about pieces in the NIU Art Museum’s current installation, the NIU School of Art and Design Faculty Continuum is a sculpture of a piano, “Tight Notes and Black Holes, CTINH (Conceptualize there is no Heaven” created by Mike Rea, associate professor of sculpture. While it’s not a fully functioning piano, it didn’t stop Rea and a couple dozen of his friends from forming a “band” and performing Harry Nilsson’s “He Needs Me.”
Artist and Associate Professor of Sculpture Mike Rea puts together “a band” to produce a music video featuring his sculpture Tight Notes and Black Holes, CTINH (Conceptualize there is no Heaven), 2019.
I Yell Because I Care, He Needs Me, is a site-specific performative installation, which combines our desire to see Rea’s sculptural works engaged in the gallery while straddling the virtual environment of digital interactions we are currently immersed in. Performing 1970s singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson’s “He Needs Me” from the soundtrack of Popeye (1980) directed by Robert Altman, Rea combines alternative performances with actual musicians, recorded remotely in the homes and spaces of the various participants. The “band” members are NIU alumni, current students, artists and musicians Rea has cultivated since his own time at NIU as a student in the late 90s.
The performance will be presented in a live Zoom stream (meeting ID 827 9464 1112, passcode 526115), Saturday, November 15 at 7 p.m.
Mike Rea has conflated the notions of working hard and playing hard for over two decades with his bombastic wooden sculptures. Whether as conventional sculptures standing alone, or as props in interactive installations and performances, these often-massive objects reflect a culture of humor, violence, vulgarity, and sensitivity.
This program is sponsored in part by the Illinois Arts Council Agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Northern Illinois University Arts and Culture Fee with additional support from the Division of Information Technology and University Marketing and Institutional Communications.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 827 9464 1112