Artwork missing from Doane

Last week, two pieces of student artwork went missing from the hall outside of Doane Art Gallery.

“I had some prints in the hallway next to the gallery,” said Rachel Smith, ’11, the artist. “Last Thursday, my class was walking by them and I noticed that they were gone; only my nametags were there.”

The two pieces of art, both 8″x11″, were black-and-white photographs of a nude model whose face was not visible.

“The photos were originally for a project about gender and naked bodies,” Smith said. “They were of a female friend.”

At first, Smith thought that maybe the prints had just fallen down. However, after not finding them, she talked to her professor and the Student Art Society to see if anyone knew anything about them. There are no current suspects or leads.

Students and professors alike are upset about the missing photographs.

“What I’m concerned about is that as an art department, we try to share with the community the good things that go on here,” said Richard Sayer, adjunct professor of photography. “It’s a shame if our students don’t feel like they can share their work safely. It takes away from the whole community aspect of the college.”

Photography students agree.

“I think the fun of having a student show in the art gallery is that people can come up close to it and see the details,” said Sonja DeJong, ’10, who is in Smith’s photography class. “You can see all the aspects that go into the craft of making art. It’s unfortunate if that trust is broken. You can never make the same exact creation again.”

Assistant Professor of Art and Gallery Director Darren Miller said that his feelings about the student body haven’t changed at all after this incident.

“It’s most likely that they were taken by a student, but we don’t know that for sure,” Miller said. “The building is open to the public, and there is no way for us to secure the work. It’s only my second year here, so I don’t know if anything has gone missing before.”

Sayer expressed the same feeling that Allegheny’s campus is generally a secure place.

“There seems to be far less of this kind of activity here than at some other locations,” Sayer said. “You generally feel like here, there is a certain amount of safety. Rachel’s pieces were provocative, but I still don’t understand why someone would take them.”

Smith is disturbed by the missing artwork for a few reasons.

“I’m equally frustrated and upset because not only was it my artwork, but because it was of my friend’s body,” Smith said. “It’s almost like they took my friend’s body with them, and maybe someone figured out who she was even though her face wasn’t in it. I can’t help but feel like the subject matter had something to do with it being taken.”

After a discussion in their photography class, students are using this unfortunate event as a learning experience.

“The best perspective to take when something like this happens is to view it as succeeding as an artist in terms of stirring the pot,” DeJong said. “As we discussed in our class, the effect the artwork had on the viewer made him or her either want to take it down to keep for themselves or because it offended them. The worst thing is to be discouraged; it’s better to continue creating art and maintain its accessibility than be afraid to put it out there.”


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