WSU Schnitzer Museum presents the exhibition “Night Stars: The Aiken Collection”

Artwork portraying the outline of 6 individuals standing together.
Tenderness by Kiyoshi Saito

PULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington State University Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is proud to present the exhibition Night Stars: The Aiken Collection. On view at the museum starting July 23, this ongoing exhibition is located in the Wright/Harmon Gallery. As always, all exhibitions at the museum are free and open to the public.

Artworks, like night stars, are seen across time and space—with us yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

The Mary Margaret and Richard Aiken Collection of Late Twentieth Century Works on Paper focuses on American print works created between 1965 and the mid-1990s. Comprised of 24 works by 16 artists, the collection includes artworks by renowned American artists Jennifer Bartlett, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Rauschenberg, and Frank Stella, with additional works by international artists Francesco Clemente and Kiyoshi Saito. The artworks are bright, bold and expressive, yet artistically diverse, with examples of abstract expressionism, color field, pop art, and minimalism. When originally acquired by the Aikens, these artists were heralded as masters of modern and contemporary art. How then do today’s viewers consider these now-historic works, in many instances three to five decades later? Across time and space they continue to reside with us, constituting a startling range of art-making approaches and visual-culture benchmarks.

The Aiken Collection is part of a larger whole. Formed in 1973, the museum’s permanent collection has grown from President Ernest O. Holland’s founding collection of 19th and 20th century American Post-Impressionism to holdings now totaling 3800 unique objects. The collection is many things; a repository of carefully selected artworks and documents, preserved and made accessible; a historical record of visual culture; but most importantly, a tool toward learning and enriched experience. Moving forward all museums must create better, more inclusive collections, telling more accurate stories about the creation and creators of art.

The Aiken Collection serves as a reminder of the legacy of the Washington Art Consortium (WAC), a unique cooperative of seven museums throughout Washington State. In 1998, thanks to the efforts of gallery owner Greg Kucera, the Consortium received Richard and Margaret Aiken’s gift of 24 works on paper. The WAC disbanded in 2017, transferring ownership and care of these important works to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU.

Funding has been provided by the Members of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art WSU. All artworks “Gift of the Washington Art Consortium through gift of Richard and Margaret Aiken.”

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