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Graduate Student Designs Manetti Shrem Museum Installation

Under the supervision of Professor Tim McNeil and curator Dan Nadel, graduate student Edward Whelan designed the floorplan, environment and graphics for the exhibition “All on the Line: William T. Wiley and the Slant Step” at the Jan and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art. This exhibition highlights Wiley’s influence as an artist and educator, as seen through recent contributions from world-famous artist Bruce Nauman.

In order to create an environment that reflected Wiley’s experimental and eclectic artwork, Whelan researched Wiley’s life and practice extensively. Whelan found that when the art world celebrated Minimalism, Wiley created figurative works. When the art world embraced large oil paintings, Wiley painted intimate watercolors. When the art world centered on Manhattan, Wiley concentrated his studio practice in a cabin in Marin County. Whelan’s response to Wiley’s constant, even obstinate push against commercialism led to an experimental design that consciously rejected a white-cube approach found today in New York’s galleries and museums. 

Whelan collaged Wiley’s own hand-drawn lettering for the title graphics, disrupted the white walls in the galleries with wood paneling to symbolize Wiley’s rejection of the mainstream artworld, and used Wiley’s watercolors to create a 14 ft “stained-glass” window using transparent vinyl inside the Shrem. The chronological layout culminates in Wiley’s major renunciation of the art world in 1967, expressed with a small wood-paneled gallery reminiscent of a chapel. 

The exhibition runs through May 8 at the museum. 

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