Tarble to exhibit ‘Making Illinois’


Mercury Bowen

Multiple students volunteer to be apart of the exhibition team. They are responsible for building the parts for all of the artwork displayed in the ‘Making Illinois’ exhibit.

Mercury Bowen, Staff Reporter

The Tarble Arts Center is set to unveil the Historical Administration graduate class of Spring 2016’s exhibition “Making Illinois” this weekend.

The themes of the exhibition include land, people, and experience and all of these themes are central to the overall theme of exploring the Illinois experience and what it means to be an “Illinoisan.”

Rachel Tavaras, a graduate assistant at the Tarble Arts Center, said the exhibit has been in production since August. She said last semester was more focused on theoretical ideas, such as honing large ideas into what artifacts would go in the exhibit. This semester has been more hands-on in trying to physically put together the conceptual ideas from last semester.

Mary Challman, another member of the Historical Administration class, said that the name of the exhibition also focuses on the broader idea of production by people in Illinois.

Challman said that the biggest difficulty the team faced was that the idea for Making Illinois was so big and the exhibition team had to narrow it down.

“For people we’re looking more at the human interactions,” Challman said, “Experience is more about applying meaning to the human experience.”

According to Tavaras, distinguishing between people and experience was also difficult for the team.

Tavaras said it is difficult to talk about Illinois without talking about the whole state, but that the exhibition team has tried to focus on east central Illinois to tap into the locality of it.

Challman said that there is about a 50-50 split between native Illinois residents and “outsiders” in the Historical Administration class, and that it is interesting to see the Chicago versus the rest of Illinois divide.

She also said that the idea that the team has been grappling with from the beginning is “What makes East Central Illinois special?”

Tavaras said that it has been difficult to showcase that without dipping into the tension of the urban landscape versus rural landscape of Illinois.

“We didn’t want to indulge that (tension), but instead tried to make everything look equally important in its own way,” Tavaras said.

Kyle Dickson, another member of graduate class, said that the team was really focused on trying to keep the show local, as well as asking the question what it is to be an Illinoisan.

Dickson said that even within the group of people present there were three different backgrounds. Tavaras was born and raised in Illinois, Challman is from out of state, and Dickson moved to Illinois from Los Angeles in middle school.

Challman said that what makes the “Making Illinois” exhibit so interesting is that fact that it is on a college campus where there are students from both in state and out-of-state, and recently the team has been even more focused on keeping the exhibition Eastern-centered because of the Fund EIU movement.

“You don’t need to be born in Illinois and bred in Illinois to be part of Illinois,” Challman said. “(We are) showing very brashly and bold-facedly to people like Governor Rauner and the Illinois state government that Eastern Illinois University is an essential community.”

Tavaras said to do this exhibit is really important for everyone who lives in Illinois.

“It’s been a really special time to do something like that because a lot of these little localities do feel threatened,” Tavaras said, “Being able to show what makes them so special is really a unique opportunity.”

The opening reception for “Making Illinois” will take place on Friday from 7p.m. to 9p.m at the Tarble Arts Center. The exhibition officially begins on April 9 and will close May 29.

Mercury Bowen can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]