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Double Take: Insights on Figural Expression

At the Christian Petersen Art Museum, Morrill Hall
Monday, August 22 through Friday, December 16, 2022


What does a body hold?

The human brain contains neurons specifically tasked with the ability to quickly recognize and interpret the faces and body language each person encounters on a daily basis. Double Take: Insights on Figural Expression explores the changes in perception that take place when the human form is visually disrupted. Artists depict the human body as a representation both of the individual, and as a way to portray the basic essence of humanity as a whole. When the standardized human form is changed and added to, or is stripped down to essential parts, additional layers of perception and understanding are revealed to the viewer. How can the disruption of anatomical norms of a human figure in a work of art direct the interpretation of that form by the viewer? What cultural symbols, values, or characteristics of identity are exposed when the humanity of the figure is significantly changed through artistic expression?

Double Take: Insights on Figural Expression examines the use of stylized and expressionistic figures in works of art from University Museums’ permanent collection. Through political cartoons, well-known figures are changed into satirical characters, or forms of beings that rouse distrust. Examples of artist sketches, completed quickly or in times of detailed study, illustrate a focus on bodily movement and the practice of distilling the human figure to elemental forms. Stylization of the human body can also lead the viewer through explorations of identity with imagery that signifies power, beauty, or the individual values and beliefs a person holds. Throughout this exhibition, viewers are asked to contemplate how stylization and changes to the human figure allow for the opportunity to look beyond the image, to engage with new frames of reference found within the portrayed figure, points of reference beyond the initial basic perception of shared humanity.




MY HOME, 1992
Jeanine Coupe Ryding
Gift of Dale Jansen. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. UM95.27

Bird Human Transformation, 1990s
Kenojuak Ashevak (Inuit, 1927-2013)
Ink and color pencil
Gift of John L. and Ethel Margaret Gillmor Bohan. In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. UM2014.106

Sketches of Two Dancers, 1940
Christian Petersen
Paper, black graphite or conte
Purchased from Mary Petersen. In the Christian Petersen Art Collection, Christian Petersen Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. UM92.36

Exhibition Programs

Find full descriptions of programs on the University Museums Calendar. All programs are free and open to the public. Registration is encouraged but not required. Events listed below will be at the Christian Petersen Art Museum unless otherwise noted. Programs are subject to change. Check the University Museums Calendar and Facebook page for the latest events information.


Curator's Tour

Wednesday, September 7, noon-1:00 p.m.

University Museums Curator Sydney Marshall introduces the exhibition Double Take: Insights on Abstraction in the Christian Petersen Art Museum. Explore the concept of abstraction in figural art and its effects on viewer’s interpretations.


Date Night at the Christian Petersen Art Museum

Friday, September 23, 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Tired of the same old date nights? University Museums has you covered with free food, crafts, AND beautiful art for a fun and unique night with your significant other or friends. Visit Double Take: Insights on Abstraction in the Christian Petersen Art Museum on the first floor of Morrill Hall to get your Friday night started off with some culture and creativity.


Gesture Drawing & Abstraction: Drawing Workshop with Celinda Stamy

Session 1: Tuesday, October 11, noon-1:00 p.m.

Session 2: Tuesday, October 11, 5:00-6:00 p.m.

Registration required

Arts and Visual Culture Assistant Teaching Professor Celinda Stamy leads a workshop in response to the exhibition Double Take: Insights on Figural Expression. Participants will be guided through the process of gesture drawing, and how the visual material both shown and concealed in a drawing can have an effect on the interpretation of the figure.

Note: There are two sessions for this program and registration is required. Click a button below to register.

Session 1 at noon          Session 2 at 5pm


Iowan Political Cartoonists: A Discussion with Elizabeth Riordan

Wednesday, October 12, noon-1:00 p.m.

Virtual on Zoom (click for link)

Political cartoons have been a method of disseminating political events to a wide audience for decades, often featuring distorted figures and satire. In connection with Double Take: Insights on Figural Expression, on view in the Christian Petersen Art Museum, join a Zoom conversation between University of Iowa Special Collections and Archives’ Lead Outreach and Instruction Librarian Elizabeth Riordan, and Iowa State University Museums’ curator Sydney Marshall for a look at the works of three Iowa political cartoonists: Ding Darling, Frank Miller, and Brian Duffy.


Open House Weekend

Saturday & Sunday, October 15 & 16, 1:00-4:00 p.m.

Having trouble getting to the museum during the week? Enjoy the University Museums’ central campus locations and fall exhibitions during an open house weekend, Saturday & Sunday, October 15 & 16 from 1:00-4:00pm. At the Christian Petersen Art Museum see Double Take: Insights on Figural Expression and All the Evils: Christian Petersen and the Art of War. At the Farm House Museum, the exhibition Arts & Craftsman: Simplicity, Honesty, and Truth to Materials, will be open. Light refreshments will be served at the Farm House Museum.


Art Walk: Abstracted Figures in the Art on Campus Collection

Wednesday, October 26, noon-1:00 p.m.

The human figure appears countless times in the Art on Campus Collection, but the addition of abstraction adds a new layer of interpretation. Join curator Sydney Marshall for an Art Walk featuring works of art from the Art on Campus Collection in conversation with the exhibition in the Christian Petersen Art Museum, Double Take: Insights on Figural Expression.

Tour begins at Christian Petersen Art Museum, Morrill Hall


Figural Expression through Motion: An Evening of Dance and Art

Thursday, November 17, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

A celebration of movement in dance and art, this evening will feature performances of original compositions under the direction of Kinesiology faculty member Cynthia Adams. Dance students and Orchesis I dancers will present choreography inspired by their close investigations at the sculptures and drawings from the exhibition Double Take: Insights on Figural Expression. Experience a different kind of museum visit as you are introduced to works of art through the lens of dancers.

Visit the Christian Petersen Art Museum

Hours: Monday-Friday, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Closed weekends and University Holidays

Closed Monday, Nov. 21 through Friday, Nov. 25, 2022 for Thanksgiving Break

Address: Campbell Gallery, 1017 Morrill Hall, 603 Morrill Road, Ames, Iowa
Admission: The cost is free, however there is a suggested donation of $8.

This exhibition was curated by University Museums featuring objects from the permanent collection. Generous support for the exhibition was provided by Ann and Al Jennings and the University Museums Membership.

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