CSU Students and Award-Winning Artist Partner on New Acquisition at Columbus Museum.

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Students at Columbus State University had the unique experience of traveling the region with award-winning artist Mark Dion as part of a Fall 2018 "Great Conversations/ Art and Research" class. The group attended an auction, toured West Point Lake, visited Pasaquan, collected bug samples from kayaks, and met with a local folklorist, artist, scientist, and several business owners. Now their journey, complete with 20 mini expeditions, has culminated into an art project at the Columbus Museum.

"Personally, it was one of the most rewarding teaching experiences that I have had in my 17-year career," said Michael McFalls, CSU art professor who taught the course. "It was truly an interdisciplinary topics class that focused on the research, process and the creation of artwork."

The first-of-its-kind course set out to allow students to participate in the creation of Dion's newest "curiosity cabinets." Modeled on Wunderkabinetts of the sixteenth century, Dion is known internationally for such cabinets which "exalt atypical orderings of objects and specimens." He has collaborated with museums of natural history, aquariums, zoos, and other institutions around the world to create cabinets of curiosity that produce public knowledge on the topic of nature.

"Having the opportunity to work with Mark Dion was a once in a lifetime experience that I never would have thought possible," said Joshua Richmond, a third-year art major at CSU. "I learned how a professional artist works through their field and develops a piece."

Dion, who teaches classes at Columbia University School of the Arts, says that this is the first time he has worked with college students to help him collect items for a curiosity cabinet.

"This is the first time where students have actually participated, brought me things and tried to - in some way - mimic my methodology," said Dion.

The experience, not only provided students with an opportunity to work behind the scenes on a commissioned art project, but it also allowed them to learn more about the history and environment of Columbus.

"We learned about the scientific, economic, social, and historical implications of the Chattahoochee River and surrounding area, and we eventually began to spin a conducive story around it all that found its way into physical artwork," wrote Vivian Duncan in an editorial about the experience that was published in the Saber.

Students who participated in the project were Vivian Duncan, Cierra Fountain, Lee Gilford, Rebecca Hucks, Jonathan Macgregor, Elyse Mixon, Abby Grace Moore, Yun Praught, Chad Reynolds, Joshua Richmond, Kate Scrivner, Ainsley Steeves, Dalton Tanner, Jade Thornton, and Perry Valentine. The exhibit went on permanent display at the Columbus Museum on Friday.