Prestigious art gallery now open on campus


“Cabinets of the Curious: Art Historians Collect” will be on display in the Kipp Gallery Annex in Sprowls Hall through Sept. 24.

The attraction is a gallery exhibit featuring artwork from the personal collection of multiple Indiana University of Pennsylvania art history professors’ personal collections. The featured artwork belongs to the collections of Dr. Irene Kabala, Dr. Brenda Mitchell and Dr. Penny Rode.

The gallery features an eclectic variety of artwork from around the world. Kabala specializes in medieval and Renaissance European art, Mitchell focuses on modern and contemporary art and Rode’s area of expertise is Asian art.

The pieces they have acquired over the years come from many places, including Japan, Mexico, Bali, Africa, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and the United States.

Mitchell described the process that went into choosing the theme for the gallery and why it featured professors’ collections.

“The art history faculty have been discussing the idea for some time,” Mitchell said.

“As art historians, we study and teach the history of art, write about art and collect art. Although all of us have studio art experience, we don’t often make art. So we thought this would be a good way to show another way we are all involved.”

Kabala explained the exhibit’s title, “Cabinets of the Curious.”

“‘Cabinets of the Curious’ is a play on a 16th-century idea, ‘Cabinets of Curiosities,’ which were rooms filled with exotic objects that, today, would fall under the category of natural history,” Kabala said. “Since the art historians have wide-ranging interests, the title is appropriate.”

There is a wide variety of pieces on display such as jewelry, paintings, collages and photographs.

For example, Kabala has many dance masks, helmets and spirit hoops in the exhibit. These come from cultures such as Kwakiutl, Tlingit, Tsimshian, Mossi and Mexican.

Kabala discussed her interest in these pieces and why she chose to display them as part of “Cabinets of the Curious.”

“I am fascinated by masks, which are living beings and therefore extremely powerful,” Kabala said. “I am especially fascinated by Pacific Northwest cultures and their belief in the interconnection of all creatures and things, both visible and invisible.”

“Cabinets of the Curious” is just the first gallery to be featured this year, and it kicks off several other upcoming exhibits.

Kabala encourages people to stop in and check out the free exhibit while it is on display because it offers a view into a wide variety of different cultures.

“People should see the exhibit because it does bring together many cultural objects that are not usually shown in Indiana,” Kabala said.

“The exhibit provides a window through which a non-western cultures can be glimpsed.”