A new experience at McDonough

By Jazelle Artman and Shianna Gibbons

The McDonough Museum of Art is preparing for the spring 2023 semester with multiple lectures and art exhibits, one featuring the museum’s first virtual reality exhibition.

The museum will host seven exhibitions. Lectures will be held throughout the semester by some artists featured in the exhibitions, as well as sponsored lectures from Youngstown State University’s Department of Art. Two exhibitions will feature graduating art students at the end of the semester.

Claudia Berlinski, director of the McDonough Museum of Art, said numerous exhibits will be available for viewing soon, now that classes have begun.

“We do have a group exhibition and one of them [is] this semester, but it’s themed, and so this semester, we’re opening with five individual exhibitions on Jan. 20 from 5 to 7 p.m. and then that will run for six weeks,” Berlinski said. 

Berlinski said the virtual reality exhibit was curated by YSU art professor, Dana Sperry, called The Possible Actuals: World Building and Landscape in Virtual Reality, featuring artwork from Yvette Grant, Marie-Eve Levasseur and Amy Youngs.

“[It’s] called The Possible Actuals: World Building and Landscape in Virtual Reality. There will be TVs displaying what people can see in the headset, so people will be able to actually participate via the headsets and immerse themselves in the program,” Berlinski said. “You can also watch while people are doing [immersive viewing], outsiders can watch, and these are specific artworks that were created by people.”

The idea of a virtual reality exhibit was in the making before the COVID-19 pandemic. Sperry said they had to hold off because of the shared headsets for the exhibit.

“The thought of asking people to put on headsets seems weird and uncomfortable and it just felt like the first window of opportunity to sort of do that again,” Sperry said.

Now that pandemic restrictions have relaxed, a virtual reality exhibit at McDonough was able to come to life. Sperry said there will be three separate stations, for the three different artists to experience a variety of artwork. 

“There should be some pieces that are more interactive than others. So, like Yvette’s, it’s a sitting piece, so you sit with a headset [and] it’s more of just looking and watching. Then, Levasseur’s piece, [you’ll] have to put sensors on your body,” Sperry said.

Four other artists will be featured from Jan. 20 to March 4. Berlinski said artists are chosen in advance and through various methods such as word-of-mouth and social media. 

“I have at least a couple of semesters planned out right now going forward and ideas moving forward from there. We will do an alumni exhibition over the summer,” Berlinski said. “Sometimes I see artists exhibited at galleries or other museums, and I think that they would be great to have here for our students and community to see. Other times I find them on Instagram.”

Berlinski said sometimes exhibitions follow themes, work well with other exhibitions or are relevant to current topics. 

“This particular semester, we do have two artists who are focusing on ecological themes in their work and I saw that it’s a little bit related to the virtual reality exhibition which is building worlds and there is an artist or two in that exhibition also who has ecologically minded pieces,” Berlinski said.

For more information, times and dates about the artist, exhibits and lectures go to McDonough Museum of Art’s website.

McDonough Schedule of Events
• Exhibits featured from Jan. 20 to March 4, 2023:
• The Possible Actuals: World Building and the Landscape in Virtual Reality Curated by Dana Sperry, featuring Yvette Granata, Marie-Eve Levasseur and Amy Youngs
• Taryn Mcmahon: Watershed
• Lori Kella: Shifting Ground
• Mark Keffer: Oscillation Drills
• Amanda D. King: Root Matter Curated By Amber N. Ford
• McDonough Artist Talk: Lori Kella, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 5:10 p.m.
• Pipino Performing Arts Series: Diderot Quartet, Sunday, Jan. 29, 3 p.m. (ticketed event)
• Black History Month Lecture: Tazim and Dr. Nazim Jaffer, Wednesday Feb. 1, 6 p.m.
• Department of Art Lecture Series: Andrea Myers, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 5:10 p.m.
• Beecher Lecture Series: Yvette Granata, Monday, Feb. 13, 5:10 p.m.