New Exhibition Cairo, Illinois

Gwen Walstrand, a photographer, and Sarah Perkins, a metalsmith/enamellist, are professors from Missouri State University. The artworks will be on display until May 6, 2016. Both artists will present an artist talk April 21st at 3:00pm, with a reception to follow from 4:00 to 6:00pm in the Harry Krug Gallery.

The artworks found in the exhibition, Cairo, Illinois are not collaborative, but are designed to be viewed together.

“In order to have an impact and a narrative that neither could possess on its own. (We) are in different media but with the same subject matter – the town of Cairo, Illinois. Cairo is a unique place with both rich and tragic histories, a visual showcase of all this is best and worst in our American history.” Walstrand and Perkins have stated.

Gwen Walstand and Sarah Perkins Exhibition Statement:
“Driving through what remains of Cairo it appears to an outsider that most of the town, along with its historic buildings and extensive business district, was abandoned within the same year, as nearly all the structures are in the same state of decay. In actuality, many events and circumstances caused precipitous decline of Cairo. The town’s history includes booming success as a shipping town at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, elegant hotels and mansions, and an impressive business district. The more recent history is one of race riots, appalling violence, multiple lynchings, domination by white supremacist groups, and eventual boycotts of local businesses by African Americans. The 1920s city of over 15,000 people now is home to under 3,000 people, hundreds of strangely patched up, decaying buildings, and a handful of struggling businesses.

The enameled bowls are a response to not only the reality of present day Cairo, but also to the images of it that were chosen by the photographer. The work seen together offers insight into the working processes of the artists and the choices made by different viewers. The photographer gathers and selects visual material; the metalsmith/enamellist edits the material again and transforms the flat images into three dimensions, but on a functional form that speaks to basic human requirements. The photographs, as both independent images and references for the bowls, are aesthetic explorations of Cairo but with an attempt to consider more deeply the complexity of human histories that form such places.”


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University Gallery Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m.

For more information: Rhona McBain at (620) 235 – 4202 or


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