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Arts and sciences hit crossroads at UND

New gallery showcases School of Paris exhibit, including 13 works from artists who assembled in Paris leading up to World War II.

UND Arts Collections manager Sarah Heitkamp shows a Marc Chagall color lithograph from the UND collection that is on display at the UND Medical School art gallery. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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Think of it as the crossroads between the arts and the sciences.

Beginning earlier this semester, community members will have more chances to view and experience UND’s vast art collection in a new gallery on the second floor of the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Works from the Empire Art Center, which has displayed UND’s Arts Collection for years, will now begin making their way through campus.

When the exhibit is moved from the Empire, it will then go to the School of Medicine and Health Sciences in its new art gallery, giving more people and students in particular the chance to view and enjoy the pieces.

“We think it's very important to look at the intersection of the arts and the sciences, and that's why I'm so pleased that we now have this additional display,” UND interim President Joshua Wynne said in a recent phone interview.


School of Paris, which showcases the works of artists who assembled in Paris leading up to World War II, marks the official establishment of the School of Medicine & Health Science Art Gallery. That 13-piece exhibit, which includes works by artists, such as Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall and Joan Miro, will be on display in the medical school for the next five to six months.

“The art reminds us and our students that we are not simply studying the disease process but are trying to help people who happen to have a disease,” Wynne said in a news release about the exhibit. “By shifting the focus from the disease process to the patient, we try to emphasize the humanistic aspects of health care.”

Long term, the medical school aims to employ students of all backgrounds as curatorial assistants. Through such a work-study role, students of multiple backgrounds could learn about the installation and upkeep of artwork, research and academic writing, and the processes involved with curating exhibitions, the release said.

Wynne said he hopes to see the connection continue: After finishing at the medical school, the exhibit may make its way through other campus buildings.

While the Empire has hosted UND Arts Collection for years now, this new relationship between the downtown entity and the university only strengthens the bond between the two, Wynne said.

“This is a perfect example of how we strengthen that bond between downtown and the UND campus,” Wynne said.

Wednesday, the works of former UND President George Starcher were put on display at the Empire. Known for his watercolors of campus buildings and landscapes, this particular collection by Starcher was discovered earlier this year through the renovation of the Chester Fritz Library, which houses UND Special Collections.

The collection, a 1995 estate gift from the Starcher family, is both colorful and mesmerizing, the UND website notes. Starcher was president of the university from 1954 to 1971. Though his academic background was in mathematics, he became increasingly active as an art maker in his later years, the website says. Starcher, who served UND through the tumultuous 1960s, was well respected in the Grand Forks community. As UND president, he tolerated demonstrations and promoted free speech, which perhaps helped to prevent the social unrest that other universities often faced during this era, the website said.


That collection will make its way to UND, which offers displays of art in many campus venues.

“A lot of people don’t realize what a giant treasure trove of art and culture the campus is,” said Sarah Heitkamp, UND Arts Collections manager/curator.

The collections team has spent the past couple of years cataloging and putting those collections online. Students also get involved with a class Heitkamp teaches with the honors program.

“We also treat the campus as a living art museum,” she said. “There's several buildings on campus that have art throughout them. It makes the art accessible to the students, which is really great.”

Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.

For story pitches contact her at smook@gfherald.com or call her at 701-780-1134.
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