Sturgeon Bay, Wis. (December 3, 2020) — The Miller Art Museum is pleased to partner with the Door County Library to offer a visual arts component for the 2021 NEA Big Read program, which will focus on the novel titled Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. The museum is seeking participation from the community to create works of art in response to the book that contemplates art in a post-pandemic America. Free copies of the books will be available starting on November 27 at all Door County Library branches (while supplies last), and also on Infosoup.org in regular print, large print, and audiobook, along with Overdrive/Libby (e-book). The Libraries are currently operating with restricted access so patrons are asked to call their local branch to schedule a pickup appointment. The free copies are made possible with support from the Door County Library Foundation and The Friends of Door County Libraries.
Station Eleven examines humanity’s struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. A desire for art and culture endures even among the direst of circumstances.
In the novel, a Museum of Civilization serves as a fun collection of items for the young and nostalgic reminders of the past for the old. It is unofficially founded at the Severn City Airport when stranded airline passengers collect passports, electronics (cellphones, laptops), credit cards, newspapers, and other items rendered obsolete by civilization’s collapse after the Georgia flu outbreak. Survivors travel to the airport to trade or add items to the museum, reflect on the past, and educate children who were born after the pandemic. At one point the curator observes, “There seemed to be a limitless number of objects in the world that had no practical use but that people wanted to preserve.” (258) Thus, the museum serves its purpose by paying tribute to the pre-pandemic world, teaching children about humankind’s achievements and history, and offering survivors a haven for their nostalgia. What remains, not surprisingly in the wake of the flu devastating the world’s population, is art. It will endure as long as humanity does, and humanity will endure so long as art does. Because “survival is insufficient.”
“There is so much irony in the chosen book, which was selected far in advance of the onset of COVID-19, and some uncanny parallels to our lives at the present moment,” says Elizabeth Meissner-Gigstead, Miller Art Museum executive director. “We’re excited to partner with the Door County Library and strengthen our partnership in this capacity by offering a unique avenue for interpretation of the book.”
Artists and members of the Door County community are asked to read Station Eleven and consider: What role does art play in society? What items would you want to preserve in a post-pandemic world? What would you create? Vital gadgets, mundane objects—could they be repurposed for art-making? What materials would be available and how would they be used?
Building on the #millersketchbookchallenge that sought to document the early days of the pandemic, the Miller is again encouraging art-making on the theme of art in a post-apocalyptic world. Artists and individuals ages 14 years and older are eligible to take part; there is no fee to participate and one work per participant will be accepted. Both 3-dimensional and 2-dimensional works will be accepted; 3D works must stand securely on their own without additional structures and must not exceed 12”L x 12”W x 12”H and 2D works must not exceed 30”H x 30”W. The exhibit will be featured from January 30 – February 15, 2021. Those interested in participating must download, complete and submit a registration form, which can be found at www.millerartmuseum.org along with additional details. The deadline to register to participate is January 1, 2021.
“We have become even more aware this year of the important ways the arts help us connect with others, and how they bring meaning, joy, and comfort to our lives,” says Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts Mary Anne Carter.
“These words from Mary Anne couldn’t be truer,” Meissner-Gigstead continued. “We’re pleased to have the opportunity to amplify and provide a platform for the creative voices of those in our community and hope inspiration is abundant as Mandel’s novel graces hands in the coming weeks.”
An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens readers understanding of our world, our communities and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. The Door County Library is one of 84 nonprofit organizations that was selected earlier in the year to receive an NEA Big Read grant to support a community reading program.
The Miller Art Museum is currently open by appointment; visitors are asked to call 920.746.0707 to schedule their visit. Masks are required for entry into the building and social distancing will be enforced. A complete list of safety guidelines is available for download at https://bit.ly/35V8gcE.
On view through Saturday, December 26 is Winter’s Spring: An Ältere Garten by Leslie Iwai, which features nearly 30 works by Wisconsin installation artist Leslie Iwai and explores the connection between elders and youth with vibrant colors and sculptural creations, which unfold a joyful, metaphoric garden. To coincide with Winter’s Spring, the second floor Ruth Morton Mezzanine features botanical and aviary drawings and paintings from the permanent collection as an extension of Iwai’s garden.
For questions, please contact the Museum’s administrative office, which remains open by appointment Mon – Fri, 10am – 5pm at 920.746.0707 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.