Upcoming exhibition at WFMA explores experiences of Covid-19

Dwelling: Experiences of Shelter

Upcoming exhibition at WFMA explores experiences of Covid-19

Throughout the Renaissance and the Dutch Baroque, American Realism, and French Impressionism movements, and continuing in our era, artists have illustrated the human relationship with shelter and where one dwells. An impact of the COVID-19 experience is a reexamination and new awareness of that relationship, both our own and those around us.

“Dwelling: Experiences of Shelter” is an exhibition that reveals depictions of houses, architecture, and rooms created well before the COVID-19 coronavirus spread throughout the world. The exhibition opens at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU Texas on March 27. As such, we see these artworks in both past and new contexts, allowing them to recall another time and to speak anew of our time. Viewing these works through the lens of time invites us to consider the past, present, and future, and imagine new ways to cope, help, and renew.

“It has been said that humans can survive three minutes without air, three hours without shelter in a harsh environment, three days without water, and three weeks without food,” WFMA Curator of Exhibitions and Collections Danny Bills said. “Most people are aware of their needs for air, food, and water, but may not realize where shelter ranks within those needs. Yet, when it becomes necessary for us to shelter at home, we may begin to feel a new kind of stress, or in some cases fear or claustrophobia. Contained in our homes, how will our relationships with each other, the government, employers, restaurants, and other services be changed, and for how long?”

The exhibition will feature works from the WFMA Permanent Collection and new sculptures by Indiana artist Jessica Calderwood, presented in partnership with the Juanita Harvey Art Gallery at MSU Texas, as well as contributions about the idea of dwelling from 11 MSU faculty members in disciplines ranging from sociology to athletics. The exhibition will also include three-dimensional works by the students of Stefanie Rhoads from Burkburnett Middle School, with inspiration from guest artist Jessica Calderwood.

Elizabeth Yarosz-Ash, Levitating, 1990, Intaglio; Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU Texas Permanent Collection, Gift of Elizabeth Yarosz-Ash.
Elizabeth Yarosz-Ash, Levitating, 1990, Intaglio; Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU Texas Permanent Collection, Gift of Elizabeth Yarosz-Ash. 



Neighborhood Watch
Elizabeth Yarosz-Ash, Neighborhood Watch, 1990, Intaglio; Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU Texas Permanent Collection, Gift of Elizabeth Yarosz-Ash. 


In her figurative work before the pandemic, on display earlier this year at the MSU Juanita Harvey Art Gallery, Calderwood says that she censors or denies parts of the body to make the figures anonymous, so people may relate to them. Typically, she obscures the face or head, and thus her sculptures call to mind what it may feel like to isolate at home and communicate behind a mask.

“During the pandemic, many people expressed a new awareness of their homes,” WFMA Director Tracee Robertson said. “For some the experience has been idyllic, for some frustrating, and for some dangerous. For those who had and will have the virus, the sheltering aspect of home becomes unquestionable. The exhibition is designed to explore various experiences and viewpoints, such as stigma associated with COVID-19 as well as abuse, grief, and gratitude, among others. We hope this exhibition offers a place where visitors can take time to reflect on and share what we’ve been through.” 

In her new work for the WFMA, Calderwood says the partial figures now convey protection, hiding, or retreating in a domestic space and an inner world. She will display the sculptures on round disks that hang from the ceiling. Calderwood describes it as “floating worlds representing the separation we’ve all experienced.”

“I hope that viewing these artworks will invite people to ponder the past, the present, and the future while imagining new ways to positively cope with these changes, beyond fear or worry,” Bills said.

In the exhibition is a story wall, where visitors can write or draw their stories about home and share them with others. Become a pen pal with the museum! Send us a letter or email sharing your story about your experience of home, and we will write you back. Follow the WFMA online for information about the exhibition and educational programs. Send to the WFMA at MSU Texas, 2 Eureka Circle, Wichita Falls, TX 76308, or wfma@msutexas.edu.

Dwelling: Experiences of Shelter

Exhibit from Burkburnett Middle School


Dwelling exhibit at WFMA


Upcoming events

 Members of the guild will be guest tour guides at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art for the exhibit, "Quilt Journeys: Pattern." Patrons will receive valuable insight on quilting process and history directly from quilt artisans. 3 p.m., Saturday, May 29, June 5, and June 12. Free to public.



Storyteller and author Toni Simmons will hold a performance a Storytelling event by Toni Simmons June 16 at 7 p.m. at The Forum (2100 Speedway). The performance is $20 (advance) and $25 (day of event).

There will be a workshop with a StoryCorps opportunity June 17 from 5:30-7 p.m. at WFMA at MSU Texas. This is limited to 30 participants. The workshop is $15 (advance) and $20 (day of event). Package tickets for both events are $30 (advance) and $15 (students).