Opening Reception (and Artist Talk) at the Hillstrom Museum of Art for new exhibits: Improvised Structures: Recent Sculptural Works by Nicolas Darcourt, and Elizabeth Catlett in the Hillstrom Museum of Art

February 13 at 79 p.m.Calendar Icon

TimeFebruary 13 at 79 p.m.

There will be an opening reception, including an Artist Talk, for the Hillstrom Museum of Art's new exhibits Improvised Structures: Recent Sculptural Works by Nicolas Darcourt and Elizabeth Catlett in the Hillstrom Museum of Art.

The reception is Monday, February 13, 2023, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. with an Artist Talk by Gustavus faculty member Nicolas Darcourt starting at 7:30 p.m.

Please see below for additional information about the exhibits, which are on view from February 13 though April 23, 2023, and about related programing that includes a combined poetry reading by Gustavus faculty member Philip S Bryant and a lecture by Catlett scholar Melanie Herzog, plus a dance performance in the Museum presented by student in Gustavus faculty member Jill Patterson's Dance Composition II class.


Improvised Structures: Recent Sculptural Works by Nicolas Darcourt, and Elizabeth Catlett in the Hillstrom Museum of Art, will be on view at the Hillstrom Museum of Art from February 13 through April 23, 2023.  There will be an Opening Reception for the two concurrent exhibits from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Monday, February 13, 2023, with an Artist Talk by Nicolas Darcourt starting at 7:30.

Nicolas Darcourt has taught ceramics in the Art and Art History Department of Gustavus Adolphus College since 2012, and he serves as the studio and visual arts programs manager for the department.

Darcourt’s ceramic works use press-molded objects and hand-built shapes to focus on a mix of architectural ornament, exposed layers of earth, engineered forms, monument, and manufactured byproduct.  These coalesce into accumulations that express abstract notions of the confluence of memory, geography, and society.  The works in Improvised Structures all date from 2020 or later, including works from this year.  Among the works on display are wall reliefs, 3-dimensional tableaux that combine multiple ceramic pieces, and garniture sets, for an examination, through repetition and rumination, of what the artist terms “the grand decorative object.”

An illustrated brochure for Improvised Structures will be available free of charge at the exhibit.  A pdf version of the catalogue will be available on the Museum website at, as will a link to a video walk-through tour of the exhibit that is being planned for inclusion on the College’s YouTube channel.

Most of the works on view in Improvised Structures are available for purchase directly from the artist.  A price list can be requested from the Museum attendant.

The concurrent exhibit, Elizabeth Catlett in the Hillstrom Museum of Art, considers African American artist Catlett (1915-2012) through works recently acquired by the Hillstrom Museum of Art and through new poetry by exhibition collaborator Philip S Bryant, a faculty member in the African/African Diaspora Studies Program and the English Department of Gustavus Adolphus College.

Catlett’s color linocut I Am the Black Woman (1946-1947) is featured in the exhibit.  In some ways the image is emblematic of the artist, considered by many to be the most significant Black female artist of her period.  The early years of her long career were spent in the US until she moved to Mexico in 1946, where she lived the rest of her life.  Catlett took her own culture as an African American woman as her primary subject matter, adding to it her adopted Mexican culture when she moved there, married Mexican artist Francisco Mora (1922-2002), and raised a family with him.

Catlett’s artworks and Bryant’s poetry are supplemented by paintings by Catlett’s contemporaries Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) and Eldzier Cortor (1916-2015), lent by the Art Bridges Foundation of Bentonville, Arkansas.

Art Bridges Foundation is the vision of philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton, also founder of the renowned Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.  The mission of Art Bridges is to expand access to American art in all regions across the United States.

Art Bridges Foundation has also supplied a generous grant to produce a brochure for the exhibit, to support outreach for the exhibition, and to support the visit to campus by Catlett scholar Melanie Herzog, who will present a lecture titled Elizabeth Catlett: Kinship.  Herzog’s lecture will be coupled with a reading of poetry by Philip S Bryant in a program on Sunday, February 26, 4:00-5:30 p.m., Wallenberg Auditorium, Nobel Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College.

In conjunction with the Catlett and Darcourt exhibits, students in the Dance Composition II class taught by Gustavus Adolphus College Theatre and Dance Department faculty member Jill Patterson will present a series of dance works choreographed in relation to and drawing from the works on view.

This dance program, titled Move/MEANT, will be performed in the Museum Tuesday, March 21, 2023, from 1:30 to 2:30 and again from 5:30 to 6:30.

More information about the Hillstrom Museum of Art and its offerings can be found on its website at:

Regular Museum hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.- to 4:00 p.m. and weekends, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.  All exhibitions and related programming are free and open to the public.

PostedFeb 06, 2023