The last few months have been marked by upheaval, isolation and a departure from normal routines for many of us.
An online exhibit curated by the University of Wyoming Art Museum explores those feelings through works created by students and faculty at the UW College of Law.
“Dispatches from Exile” features 30 works by 13 law students and faculty, expressing their experiences since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. The exhibit will be on display through Dec. 23 at www.uwyo.edu/artmuseum/exhibitions.
Ryan Sedgeley, now a third-year law student, had been considering the idea of a law student art exhibition for several years, ever since he first met his colleagues and discovered that many of them, like him, had artistic talents that complemented their legal aspirations.
“Law school can be a pretty logical and not-very-artistic place,” he said.
In March, after UW closed its campus and moved classes online, Sedgeley thought a group exhibition might be a way for students to maintain their community despite their geographical separation.
Sedgeley moved to northwest Wyoming after campus closed last spring and is set to finish his law degree along with a master’s degree in environment and natural resources next semester.
“We all got spun off into different parts of the country and the world, and we were suddenly ripped from our community,” he said. “I thought art would be a good way to reconnect us all.”
He connected with Michelle Sunset, an assistant curator at the art museum, who agreed to curate the show, and then put out a call for submissions to students, faculty and alumni. Twelve students and one faculty member contributed photographs, paintings, mixed media pieces, poetry and more.
Their works celebrate the role of public lands during the pandemic, contemplate feelings of isolation and loneliness and express frustration at current events.
“It was a wonderful, beautiful window into my classmates’ lives and what they were thinking and feeling,” Sedgeley said. “I really appreciated that.”
Sunset said the exhibit reflected the full range of experiences and emotions of the pandemic months.
“This collection of art work together really encapsulates spring, summer, fall 2020,” she said.
The art museum was eager to put together its first totally virtual exhibit, as its own closure in the spring forced the staff to reconsider how it would connect with the public.
“I loved the idea of creating an exhibition that was meant to be entirely virtual,” Sunset said. “The fact that it explores these ideas of separation in itself felt like really rich content.”
At the same time, the exhibit fostered new connections between the College of Law and the museum.
“To get to work with the College of Law — a new population for me — was really exciting,” she said.