The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Humans, animals and a Hunter, oh my!

Courtesy Photo | Kathryn Hunter

Hunter’s piece “Wading” is an amalgamation of metals, textiles and animal imagery.

There are few topics as relevant to a campus body as the bond between students and their pursuit of knowledge. Likewise, there are few bonds as telling as the natural bond between humans and animals  — a bond demonstrated daily on a morning walk down Main Street, leash in hand, as a dog meanders five feet ahead or the gentle exultation at the discovery of a stray campus cat under a car’s carriage. 

This month, Mississippi State University’s College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) has partnered with the College of Veterinary Medicine in an attempt to unite those two bonds. They are posed to host renowned artist Kathryn Hunter as a special highlight in Human-Animal Bond Week, which takes place Oct. 18-Nov. 1.

Hunter, an established artist with a gallery presence ranging from Louisiana to New York City, holds a bachelor’s degree in printmaking and currently operates Blackbird Letter Press in Baton Rogue, La. Her background encompasses letterpress, printmaking and three-dimensional work. However, her incorporation of textiles, fiber and paper have led her down an avenue into product development. 

Animal-bond week celebrates the merger of two of MSU’s most diverse colleges in a venture to unify campus and the community. Lori Neuenfeldt, coordinator of the MSU Visual Arts Center Gallery and Outreach Programs, stressed the importance of viewing art as way of self-discovery and exploration of the world around us.

“Artworks reflect what is going on within contemporary times, and the concerns we have, whether it’s political, environmental, religious…” Neuenfeldt said. “That all can be seen visually in the works of art we’re trying to bring here to campus. In a way, we’re trying to bring a part of the world here to Mississippi State. Anyone can see that art is tied to any area of interest.”

Hunter’s exploration of polar bears in her work allows students to grapple with the issues of endangered species and growing up in an age of increased awareness to the finite world around them and depleting natural resources. 

“These are a way for them to revisit those in a way that’s very visual, and they can respond to that visually, so not just the Department of Arts students, but any student,” Neuenfeldt said. “What we’re trying to do is we’re trying initiate that conversation and get people to confront those ideas.”

Hunter’s exhibit falls in conjunction with the College of Veterinary’s almuni weekend. The exhibit aims to encourage veterinary students to explore outside the scientific realm of animal studies.

Brandi Van Ormer, director of communications at the College of Veterinary Medicine, said veterninary students are a student group especially passionate about the bond between humans and animals.

“I think that veterinary students are a uniquely passionate group of people, and they are people who have had a passion for animals and science since they were small,” Van Ormer said. “It’s a way to get them outside of the science part and help them to enjoy and appreciate a subject they love anyways.”

CAAD’s persistent effort to draw in diversified exhibits has played a large part in expanding its students’ worldviews and creative optimism toward future career ventures.

Trey Hardin, junior art major with an emphasis in graphic design, said the exhibitions add subjects to his education students do not learn otherwise.

“I don’t think you can get the same kind of education without it (exhibitions). If you’re out there trying to do it alone and you never see anyone else, how do you even know how to go about pursuing a career?,” he said. “But also, because of the diversity of it, it kind of makes you think, and it gets you interested in pursuing things that you never would have thought to do.”

Neuenfeldt said she has seen a positive response to CAAD’s exhibitions through increased student engagement and hopes to continue to serve the community and Golden Triangle region by bringing in future exhibits. The university’s continued persistence to diversified exhibits honors CAAD’s mission statement which says, “Preparing students for a career or advanced study; offering courses that fulfill university requirements; and providing an active art gallery to serve the university, the community, and region.”

Neuenfeldt said she values raising varied issues with students even when the discussions and ideas are difficult.

“I think it’s important to show students different concepts — you know, whether they’re tough to grapple with, they’re raising certain issues,” Neuenfeldt said. 

Alaina Griffin, junior architecture major, said she concurred with Neuenfeldt. She said she felt her education involved more than mere school work and felt it necessary for students to go beyond their own majors and learn about different colleges that unite campus as a whole.

“I think it’s important to see other people’s work and what’s going on,” Griffin said. “I feel like your education shouldn’t just be about what you want to do. It should be about knowing about other things that are going on at the school.”

Hunter’s exhibit is set to run Sept. 23 – Nov. 1, including a free gallery reception on Thursday, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

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Humans, animals and a Hunter, oh my!