The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art at Johnson County Community College initiated its popular program of Third Thursday Visiting Artists Presentations in 2008, one year after the museum opened its doors. Since that time, the museum has hosted 68 programs featuring 124 artists in presentations attended by more than 7,800 people. Third Thursdays are generously supported by ArtsKC Ovation Grant funding.
From their inception, Third Thursdays have featured local professional artists, typically with two artists per program and six programs per year. JCCC faculty moderators promote interaction with the student audience during the Q&A segment. Participants gain insight into art careers and possibilities for professional networking.
To expand on the program’s interdisciplinary mission, the museum has also invited fashion designers, architects, visiting curators and a choreographer to present for Third Thursdays in addition to inviting visual artists working in a wide variety of media.
Karen Gerety Folk (curator of Education), Allison Smith (professor and chair, Art History) and Larry Thomas (professor emeritus and former chair Fine Arts and Photography) collaborated on planning the inaugural program. “We wanted to engage students from different areas of campus, and using the panel format and bringing together two artists who work in different media helped spark dialogue amongst students who might not otherwise have crossed paths,” said Gerety Folk. “Witnessing people making new connections has been the best part of the program for me.”
Third Thursdays moved to an online format for fall 2020. For the November 19 program, renowned guest artists Sheila Pree Bright and Wendy Red Star will be speaking. Both artists have works in the Nerman Museum’s permanent collection and have been featured in high-profile exhibitions nationally.
The Nerman Museum has in its collection one set of Wendy Red Star’s Four Seasons photographs, which has been on display in multiple permanent collection exhibitions including Contemporary American Indian Art · The Nerman Museum Collection (in 2014) and Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly (in 2017). Additionally, the museum has on permanent display Red Star’s Jingle Dress in one of the museum’s Collection Focus Areas that are installed across the JCCC campus.
Also in the Nerman’s collection is one of Sheila Pree Bright’s photographs, which has been on display in multiple permanent collection exhibitions, and Pree Bright was a featured artist in the 2010 exhibition Faraway Nearby – Addressing Suburbia. Additionally, the JCCC Fine Arts department is working in collaboration with the JCCC Black Student Union, the Multi-Cultural group, Sustainability, and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion taskforce to install an outdoor exhibition of Pree Bright’s work entitled #1960Now in and around the Fine Arts and Design Studios (FADS) building October 26 through November 23, 2020. This exhibition will include outdoor wheat pasted portraits of leaders from civil rights groups, a video projected onto the building and a viewer interactive installation.
Third Thursdays will continue in Spring 2021, growing interdisciplinary connections and keeping learners engaged with the Nerman Museum, its exhibitions and collections. Find out more about upcoming programs at nermanmuseum.org/calendar.
–Katherine Morse, Education Coordinator, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (all images courtesy Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art)