A look inside the often overlooked Ames art collection

Alessia Girardin, News Editor

Photo credit: Liam Killian

When you walk through CLA, go to any events on campus or visit any campus offices, you’ll probably see pieces from the Ames School of Art art collection. 

IWU has worked to accumulate this collection of art since 2014. In 2021, an online archive of the works was created. It took a village to put the collection together, and now the IWU community has a handle on how to borrow items from this emblematic collection. 

Former provost Johnathan Green had the idea that IWU should pull the artwork together. Former university librarian Karen Schmit agreed that the library would help

Credit: Alessia Giradin

form the collection. With the assistance of former President’s wife Elizabeth Jensen and physical plant workers, the collection was created.

Most commonly, alums and collectors have donated art to the collection. Faculty members have also bought art from all over the world to give to the collection and showcase examples of cultural elements to their students. 

The earliest works that have been donated or purchased in some way date back to the 1950s and there are even works by Rembrandt in the collection. 

“We want these cultural elements not just in our curriculum but also exposing students to seeing the world through the artists’ eyes,” library archivist Meg Miner said. 

Many works of art, including paintings and sculptures, were created by students and can be found around campus as well. 

“We are here to explore and appreciate all of the work that students do, not just in the scholarly research types of fields but in the creative arts as well,” Miner said. 

In 2016, the library was set to take an inventory to identify collections and describe them. For about four years, the library staff and Jensen went to campus buildings during the summers to put together a spreadsheet of the collection. 

Their work was important for the appraisal process that Miner worked on this semester. 

“We need to make sure we are insured properly for the work we have,” Miner said. 

The value to an appraiser of an artwork comes down to the author, the type of art, and its historical connection. “Monetary value isn’t the important thing, it’s how it can be valued by our community in an educational sense and an inspirational sense,” Miner said.

Credit: Alessia Giradin

After making the collection public for the first time, some of the work was shown right away to Carmen Lozar. She was ecstatic to see a Japanese artist in the collection. 

The BFA Senior Art Show also showcases artwork from the collection every year. 

Chisato Kojima’s office on the third floor of CLA loaned out some of the Japanese paintings from the collection that are from her hometown in Tsukiji, Tokyo. 

“I was moved by the paintings from my hometown, and knew I had to take them out,” Kojima said. 

Two doors down from Kojima’s office is Carolyn Nadeau, who loaned out a sculpture of “Don Quixote.” The statue sat in the provost office for many years, but once the new provost came in, they decided to move the statue to the languages department where it had more meaning. 

“It’s meant to be here,” Nadeau said. 

Hispanic studies is a large part of World Language, Literature and Cultures (WLLC) and Quixote is one of the greatest Spanish painters, sculptures, and writers of all time.

The lounge is located near Kojima and Nadeau’s office and is named “la sala cerena” after a mermaid mosaic chosen by Carmela Ferradans that hangs there.

Credit: Alessia Giradin

In front of Miner’s office hang stained glass windows that were donated by Pembroke College from their collection. IWU had to pay a local glass company to restore and frame them. 

These pieces were put into the office when the library opened, which was the same year that the Pembroke College Exchange Program was formed. That acts as a nice reminder of their relationship. 

“The university has invested the time and the resources of identifying these works. We now know where things are, which is huge,” Miner said. “The fact they are stored and being cared for is something that is really important.”

Credit: Alessia Giradin