Archive for ‘November, 2013’ Blog

Elementary, Ms. Cannizzo.

November 20th, 2013 by Denison Museum

Jenny Murphy '15 with Leadenhall Market brick. Gift of William H. Hunt. DU1945.59.6 Denison Museum Collection

Jenny Murphy ’15 with Leadenhall Market brick.
Gift of William H. Hunt. DU1945.59.6
Denison Museum Collection

by Jenny Murphy ’15

I started working at the Museum over a year ago now, at the beginning of my Sophomore year. As an English Literature major, being surrounded with Classics and Art History majors who already had experience working in museums was pretty intimidating. I felt a little out of my element. But we got to work immediately. I was partnered with a senior, Karly Etz ’13, and together we were assigned to work on the William Hunt Collection of ancient bricks. The bricks had previously been poorly labeled and stored, so it was our job to research the history of the collection and the story of each brick.

“Think of it like an investigation,” the Curator of Collections, Anna Cannizzo, told us. “You’re Sherlock Holmes – It’s your job to find out the mystery behind these bricks. Find evidence, connect the dots, solve the puzzle.” And with that, Anna wished us good luck and left us to the stack of documents.

We spent weeks reading through the documents and familiarizing ourselves with the bricks. At the same time, I was trying to learn all the museum jargon and cataloguing systems and protocol that my co-workers already knew. It was challenging, but fun. I had to keep reminding myself that one day I would be as familiar with museum work as I was with my books.

It wasn’t until later that semester that everything began to fall into place. It started with an unidentified brick. Not one of the “cool” bricks from Pompeii, or the Roman Coliseum, or even the Great Wall of China –we had already identified those. It was a small, brown brick, about the size of your hand, with a faded piece of paper on it.

The writing on the paper was nearly unintelligible, but after re-creating the letters over and over on a piece of paper, I was able to make out a few words. “Roman,” “Leadenhall Market,” and “1881 January.” From this, a quick internet search gave me my answer.

In London, Leadenhall Market stands as an ornate, colorful market with a glass ceiling. But before that, it was made of brick. Leadenhall Market itself dates back to the 14th century and was located in the center of what was Roman London. Architect Sir Horace Jones tore down and re-built the market using more modern materials in 1881. It is very likely that William Hunt, who himself lived in the late 19th century, may have picked up this brick from his contacts or travels. Who would have guessed we had a little piece of Roman London history right in Denison’s own backyard?

From inconsequential brick, to an important piece of London history. It’s amazing the new things I’ve been able to find out and learn by working in the Denison Museum. I may not be a Classics or Art History major, but being able to solve the mysteries of these tiny bricks makes my Literature heart swoon – my work was more like Sherlock Holmes’s investigations than I had thought.

Jennifer Nuss: The Honest Storyteller

November 13th, 2013 by Denison Museum

Left to Right:  Jennifer Nuss. "The Conqueror" and "Eating Her Prey". Photogravure, collage, hand-colored On view as part of Denison Museum's exhibition "Personal Space"  curated by Tommy White.

Left to Right: Jennifer Nuss. “The Conqueror” and “Eating Her Prey”. Photogravure, collage, hand-colored
On view as part of Denison Museum’s exhibition “Personal Space” curated by Tommy White.

by Drew Jepson ’16

As you enter Denison Museum this semester, your gaze will undoubtedly be drawn to two works usurping an entire wall. You walk closer and your eyebrows draw together in puzzlement, you start to feel slightly uncomfortable, wanting to glance away, yet unable to as you are totally enraptured. This is the intention of the artist, Jennifer Nuss. Based in New York, Nuss creates magnificently large works on paper that force an intimacy with the grotesque most modern audiences shy away from on instinct. Earlier this month Nuss visited Denison to explain her artistic process, her inspiration, and her upcoming projects.

Trained as a traditional painter, Nuss began her journey into the texturized world of paper 15 years ago. During her residency in Austria, Nuss attended an exhibit featuring the works of Mexican-American artist Martin Ramirez. The rawness and uninhibited emotions Ramirez captured has to this day continued to inspire Nuss in her own works as she attempts to represent the honesty of the world that is often repressed and ignored. This is one of the primary reasons she chooses to work with the medium of paper. Her works are collage-like, created by the layering of her variously dyed and texturized papers. Nuss’s detailing in this process is exquisite and can only be appreciated at close distance, creating this intimacy that may not feel all together natural to the viewer.

When looking at multiple pieces of Nuss’s work you can easily distinguish a reoccurring character, an animalistic, but beautiful woman with dark, unclear features. She is generally the central figure throughout Nuss’s works, and while not necessarily autobiographical, the woman’s character evolves through the pieces, mirroring Nuss’s evolution as an artist. Nuss continuously builds upon her older works, never seeing a piece as completely finished. The more familiar you are with a story, the more the meaning changes personally. Nuss takes this concept and applies it to her pieces, altering them as she furthers her continuous narrative. This is what I find most intriguing about Nuss as an artist. She does not necessarily have a vision for her pieces or even fully understand what they are about. She presents what she feels, what she knows, and what she wants the audience to understand. Unlike a majority of postmodern artists, Nuss does not hide behind symbolism or conceptual representation. Her works achieve the honesty she strives for because they are personal not only to her, but to also the viewer.

Currently, Nuss is working on a waterfall series that portrays the story of a bride that loses her groom on the day of their wedding as he chooses to plummet off of Niagara Falls. She has taken her static works and transformed them into an animated featurette that she hopes to one-day transform into a feature length film. Six of Nuss’s works are currently on display in Denison Museum’s exhibition “Personal Space” as her storytelling captures the campus wide theme of questioning the existence and relevance of a utopia.

“Personal Space”, curated by Tommy White, will be on view through December 7th.

“What started as a work study position turned into a career. I am currently working in a museum and working towards a Master's Degree in Museum Studies, all of which would not have been possible without Denison University and its museum.”

— Cara Lovati '09