MOA director, students discuss importance of fine art on campus

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From the MOA to the Arts Building, students can find fine art on BYU campus. Students and the MOA director shared why it is important to have fine art on a college campus. (Gabriel Dawe (b.1973), “Plexus no. 29,” 2014, Gütermann sewing thread, hooks, painted wood. Courtesy of Gabriel Dawe)

BYU Museum of Art director Janalee Emmer said having access to original artwork on a college campus is invaluable. 

“For all the faculty on campus, all students no matter what they’re studying, having an art museum allows everyone to be able to go to a place that is inspiring, enriching, that can be cross-disciplinary,” Emmer said. “Depending on what they’re studying that they might see insights in a particular exhibition related to their field of study.”

Emmer explained that recently there was an exhibition in the museum featuring art created with dirt which geology students were able to look at and discuss while visiting the exhibit.

“I think, overall, having fine art on campus just allows for a more well-rounded individual,” Emmer said. “No matter what field you’re studying, being able to go to a museum and appreciate different exhibitions is something that all of our campus really deeply needs to have a fully well-rounded general education.”

Emmer said that on top of the museum being a place where students of all majors can come and perhaps find insights on what they are studying, the museum can be a place of refuge, respite and peace. 

According to a research article by Xuguang Jin and Yuan Ye, art is the most effective medium for expressing human ideals, culture, identity, emotions and more. 

“Since art is a vital part of science and technology, it is the only way to raise people who can … perceive reality clearly, … break free from rigid conventions, create novel patterns geared toward development and significantly contribute to the advancement of societies,” Jin and Ye said.

Jin and Ye said students cannot satisfy their emotional and spiritual needs with math, science and foreign language classes alone. 

“Recent research indicates that the arts can boost health and psychological wellbeing and serve as a therapeutic aid for many, including teenagers, the elderly, and those who are vulnerable,” Jin and Ye said.

Felicity Charlton, a choral music education major from Windsor, Colorado, said she thinks it is important for fine art to have a presence on campus for the culture. 

“If anyone needs to learn more about culture and different aspects of society, it’s college students,” Charlton said. “That’s part of why we are getting an education in the first place.”

Charlton said she enjoys the MOA because it has shown her a different aspect of BYU that is not often discussed. She said she has especially loved performing there. 

Vivienne Hardman, a psychology major from Orem, Utah shared similar thoughts, remarking on how an appreciation for art expands an individual’s humanity.

“I think that, societally, arts are extremely undervalued,” Hardman said. “In my life I have found that art in its many forms has given my life meaning.”

Emmer said the museum tries to make sure there is artwork for anyone at any given moment that can appeal to what they want or need to see.

“We have … types of art that can touch their soul, can touch their heart, that can inspire,” Emmer said. “We want to … provide something that will inspire, engage and encourage dialogue … it can be a kind of springboard for conversation for enlightenment.”

The BYU MOA currently has several exhibitions available for the public. Janalee Emmer, director of the MOA, said the museum is constantly trying to have artwork for everyone to enjoy. (Made in Canva by Emily Morford)

Leslie Clark, a wildlife and wildlands conservation major from Orem, Utah said the MOA is a calm place with beautiful art. 

“I think it’s important for fine art to have a presence on campus because it allows for students to see different perspectives and be exposed to art that they might otherwise have never seen,” Clark said. 

Brock Sivley, a finance major from Dallas, Texas said he has attended the MOA for a scavenger hunt for one of his classes. He said the museum is really fun, and his favorite part of the MOA is the section displaying portrayals of Christ. 

Sivley said fine art is a way to tell history, which is why it is important to have it on a university campus. 

Eliza Unrau, an editing and publishing major from Orem, Utah said there is always something interesting to see at the MOA. She said she loves the traveling exhibits because people would normally have to travel to see them, but they are right there on campus.

Unrau said it is important for fine art to have a presence on campus because it creates a connection between BYU and the rest of the world.

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