McDaniel College's Department of Art and Art History presents "Visions of the Circus," through October 12 in The Rice Gallery in Peterson Hall.
In the early 20th century, the circus was the largest entertainment industry in the world, with nearly 100 different circuses traversing America from May to October. A convoy of train cars, stretching upwards of 1½ miles, would arrive to much fanfare, complete with an elaborate parade. Within hours, a circus city would arise on the edge of town. At the core was the big top, a cathedral of wonders that presented a collection of human and animal acts from around the globe. Everyone knew of the circus’ arrival and no one wanted to miss the excitement. In rural communities and small cities, businesses closed, school lessons were suspended, and chores were set aside. The Greatest Show on Earth had arrived.
Curated by Robert Lemieux, associate professor in McDaniel’s Communication and Cinema Department, “Visions of the Circus” highlights the circus’ cultural/historical significance via an array of relevant themes: the mesmerized public, the rise of the big top, life behind the scenes, aerial acts, one-of-a-kind acts, animal acts, clown acts, sideshow performers, and the circus represented in art. Highlights include vintage black-and-white photographs and color posters, original sideshow banners, performer costumes, sideshow collectibles, and illustrations by Alexander Calder.
“My professional life is comprised of three dimensions -- educational, analytical, creative,” relates Lemieux. “My creative endeavors involve documentary production and curating museum exhibits.”
Institutions lending materials to the exhibit include Ringling Museum, Whitney Museum, Circus World, Illinois State University. The exhibit was designed by Corcoran School of the Arts & Design/George Washington University, with professional assistance from the National Gallery of Art.
The Rice Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The exhibit is free and open to the public. For information and to confirm gallery hours, please call 410-857-2595.
Friday, October 13 at 10:00am to 4:00pm
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