Jing Zhou, an associate professor of art and design has donated four pieces of art titled ‘Generations of Excellence’ to the University Library.
These pieces follow the history of the University from its establishment in 1933 up until the present.
Currently they are being exhibited in the reference area of the library for the public to observe from now and into the spring semester.
The exhibit consists of four 24×36 panels made of inkjet print on Epson Exhibition canvas Natural Satin.
At the top of each piece are different images taken by Zhou from a part of the fresco paintings located in the Pompeii room of Wilson Hall.
Framing the edges of the piece are pictures of columns that can be found in the University’s Erlanger Memorial Gardens.
At the center of each panel are photos and texts collected by Zhou from University archives, websites, and publications placed atop a parchment paper that she scanned from the University Library’s Rare Book Collection.
These sections list University historical facts and label some of the distinguished persons who have presented at the University, such as Dr. Martin Luther King.
Zhou composed the works using various techniques, and mediums. “Besides photographs, this project involves drawing, illustration, and typography/layout design,” Zhou said.
It took Zhou three years to complete the four panel exhibit. Initially Zhou spent two weeks researching in the University Library collecting content from printed and virtual archives.
“I went through countless Outlook newspapers, University magazines, and yearbooks published since the dawn of Monmouth. Then I edited those raw materials to come up with the final content,” said Zhou.
Growing up in China, Zhou disclosed the challenges she faced when attempting to detach herself from her own visual culture and adapt to traditional Western techniques.
“After understanding the University’s history, I focused on the artistic part of the project. I took many photographs on campus mostly from Wilson Hall and Erlanger Memorial Gardens. Then I conducted an extensive research on Western art and craft since Medieval period in order to create a design that matches the architectural and aesthetic styles of Wilson Hall,” Zhou said.
Edward Christensen, Dean of the University Library, authorized the showcasing of Jing Zhou’s work. He thinks that the pieces fit the atmosphere of the library because they represent a combination of the creative art and history.
Christensen said, “Libraries are no longer places where people go exclusively to study they are destinations where people come to interact. Libraries are evolving; we still have books, but we also try and find ways of showcasing works and art especially from faculty and students. Jing Zhou’s pieces I think are visually very, very appealing. They remind me of Wilson Hall and the history of the University.”
Eleonora Dubicki, Associate Librarian of the University, was the liaison between Jing Zhou and the Library. She brought the idea of exhibiting Zhou’s work to Christensen.
“When I first heard about Professor Zhou’s project, ‘Generations of Excellence’ I thought it was a perfect fit as an exhibit for the University Library. The four panels of the project visually display the history of the University Library from 1933 beginning as Monmouth Junior College to the present day, highlighting important event,” said Dubicki.
Areeba Soheil, a sophomore business student complimented Zhou on her work after observing the panels. “The artwork is different than what we get to see everyday. I like that the images on top change in every panel and represent the culture of the University,” Soheil said.
“After viewing the images you want to read the information down below. The pieces show a very creative and unique way of representing information,” Saoheil continued.
Zhou’s exhibit was inspired by her desire to learn more about the history of the University.
“The more I learned about the University’s history, the more I felt proud and fortunate to be part of this community,” said Zhou.
“I was stunned to learn how fast we have grown in the past 80 years, how much we have undertaken during and after WWII, and how many talented and extraordinary people have visited or graduated from this campus. I sincerely hope that our students, faculty, and staff will be able to carry on this tradition,” Zhou said.
PHOTO COURTESY of Jing Zhou