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C U R AT O R ' S S TAT E M E N T Seat of Learning is a multipronged

enriched the variety of responses, as did

and multimedia art project that

intentional outreach to groups typically

features a monumental installation

underrepresented in the contemporary

and accompanying residency with

art world—military veterans, multicultural

New Mexico–based artists Jane Lackey

students, UCCS alumni, regional

and Thomas Lehn. Investigating time,

community arts groups, and artists

movement, memory, knowledge,

and creatives across the southwestern

storytelling, empathy, and how we

United States. Participants were invited

learn from material objects, the artists

to bring an object that provided a

have over the past two years gathered

meaningful learning experience during

oral histories from a diverse range of

any stage in life, and to be interviewed

individuals from across the western

and recorded sharing stories of the object

United States and the Pikes Peak region.

and its lessons. An edited selection of

The Galleries of Contemporary Art (GOCA)

the objects and interviews comprises the

is proud to produce and support the

creative content of the Seat of Learning

world premiere of the resulting exhibition

immersive multimedia art installation.

at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Gallery at the Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS.

Lackey and Lehn are both longtime educators, and so it is fitting that their

The exhibition’s title references the

project encompassed a working artist

inspiration for the project—a vintage

residency with undergraduate students

school desk. Lackey and Lehn felt that

in Matt Barton’s Installation Art course

the desk summed up the essence of

within the UCCS Department of Visual

twentieth-century early learning through

and Performing Arts. During the six-

its patina, material presence, and

week residency, the artists collaborated

history of use. According to the artists, it

with students and staff to manifest the installation. GOCA is committed to

and moving through its spaces. Our

activating our spaces and our community

and wonder of acquiring knowledge while

providing our undergraduate students

hope is that you will build your own

through contemporary art at GOCA. I

bringing up and challenging assumptions

with vital hands-on learning experiences

memories in the process, and share

am grateful to all who have helped

about truth, memory, and understanding

and access to the professional artists

the experience with others.

as we adapt to new paradigms.”

we bring to the Pikes Peak region.

“telegraphed the constrictions, freedom,

The artists began the project with small-scale public interview sessions

Opportunities like this are an important part of our intentional effort to build

Since our founding in 1980, GOCA has championed conceptually innovative

community through encounters with art.

and boundary-pushing artists and

New Mexico–based mobile gallery

I personally invite you to take part in

dialogue and contribute significantly to

Axle Contemporary, and the UCCS Ent

the installation, spending time with

the history of contemporary art. As we

Center for the Arts. This range of venues

the stories and objects it contains

embark on 2020, we mark forty years of

in venues including SITE Santa Fe, the

make this longevity possible—I hope to see you in the galleries soon to help us celebrate this special anniversary!

projects that engage in vital cultural Daisy McGowan Director & Chief Curator, UCCS Gallery of Contemporary Art

an object you could carry with you



Thomas Lehn is an architectural designer, furniture

Jane Lackey is a visual artist based in Santa Fe, NM.

designer and maker with experience producing

Intersections of material, process and conceptual

both large scale and intimate environments using

thinking are the basis of her art practice.

multidisciplinary solutions. Prior to founding Thomas

Whether sensual, biological or spatial, her works trace

Lehn Designs in Santa Fe, NM, he was a principal

illusive aspects of information and communication.

and director in nationally recognized architectural

Her drawings, sculpture and large-scale installations

firms including Rossetti in Detroit; Booth Hansen

evoke self-reflection, scrutiny, comparison and

in Chicago and Kelly and Lehn in Kansas City.

interaction. Exhibition venues include the Wellcome

His work has received many accolades and awards.

Trust, London; I Space, Chicago; Exit Art, NYC;

His undergraduate degree in painting, graduate

New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe and Tang

degree in design and well-honed fabrication skills

Teaching Museum, Saratoga Springs, NY.

inform the success of his versatile design practice and

She has received grants from Artist Trust, Seattle,

teaching philosophy. He encourages aspiring designers

the National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois

and artists to develop a balanced perspective by

Arts Council and Grand Arts, Kansas City. Artist

bridging professional training with artistic agility.

residencies include Camargo Foundation, France;

Seat of Learning is an interactive

together. Whereas Lackey has a long

A respected educator in the fields of art and

La Napoule Foundation, France and the 2011 JUSFC/

installation inspired by a writing desk,

fascination with ancient “seats of learning”

design, he has served on the faculties of Chicago

NEA Creative Artist Exchange Fellowship, Japan.

much like those used in public schools

and places where knowledge accrued,

Art Institute, Kansas City Art Institute, Santa Fe

Lackey earned her BFA from California College of

University of Art and Design, University of New

the Arts and MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Mexico among others. Lehn received his BA in painting

Lackey is also a long-time educator and was Professor

from San Francisco State University followed by a MFA in design from Cranbrook Academy of Art. His interest is in joining programmatic requirements

Lackey was born and raised in eastern Tennessee.

the marks of wear and use. Yet its

Lackey’s focus is on the potential of tactile surfaces,

humble simplicity and reference to a

objects and mark making systems to summon

former utility challenged the artists as

with spirited space and object-making. Lehn’s focus is on processional arrangements of elements that unfold through close attention to detail, time, movement, light, use and transformative experience.


years ago, that artists Jane Lackey and

Lehn, by contrast, recoiled at memories

Thomas Lehn discovered in a vintage

of his formal education. He said, “That

at Kansas City Art Institute and later Artist-in-

shop. Painted in turquoise enamel, this

chair represents one form of knowledge.

Residence, Head of Fiber at Cranbrook Academy of Art.

discarded piece of furniture carries

There are many other layers to it.” 1

invisible aspects of identity and connection.

they embarked on a four-year journey

Clearly they saw the desk as being greater than its modest dimensions. Putting aside the epithet “seat of learning,” the

artists found common ground in a shared

responses were videotaped and eventually

understanding of objects as potential

edited, and the seventy conversations

sites of investigation, touchstones

were winnowed down to thirty-one

for memories, and occasionally

responses, each two or three minutes

triggers that lead to other truths.

in duration. Participants understood that their object would be requested for

They decided to engage others in their project and issued an open call, using the

loan to the project if their interview was included in the public presentation.

email lists and the public platforms of

Lackey, who was the primary editor,

Axle Contemporary and the SITE Santa

looked for what she called a kernel of

Fe Education Lab, in New Mexico, and

truth in the interviews—intuitions or

the UCCS Galleries of Contemporary Art.

reflections that led to a revelation or

Over seventy people volunteered to take

deeper association. She said, “I wanted

part in interviews focused on an object of

something that wasn’t implicitly there

personal choice, which had one limitation,

[in the object]; the untruths that we

as stipulated in the call: it needed to

learned and how they need to get opened

be “an object that you could carry with

and investigated and revised.” The

you.” Each participant was asked, “What

artists gravitated toward narratives that

have you learned from this object?” The

were transformative. Reflecting on this,

they realized that there is a difference

is an unspoken goal of Lehn’s spaces.

between learning, which they refer

The installation invites the public to

to as the mechanics of something or

walk through, to process from one

empirical knowledge gain, and knowledge

object to the next, to make connections

or intelligence. They contend that

between the objects, which range from

knowledge or intelligence results from

the mundane to the unique. Each is

experience, whether intuitive or haptic.

made more remarkable through the

Lehn put this succinctly: “[Knowledge]

narrative that its owner has revealed

is an intrinsic recognition because it

and through the associations of

comes through you versus the outside.”

proximity created by the installation.

Concurrently, an architectural envelope

The objects are mimetic devices. Histories

was in design. Lehn’s interior design

of their use have become entwined with

practice historically is based on

knowledge of their usefulness. To their

procession, moving through space.

owners, they serve as sites of reflection

Here, he used the vernacular of home to

and association, as pathways that connect

inform the structure, including features

the generic to the very personal. As signs

like an entrance and back gates and

pointing beyond physicality, they link their

naming the lower central enclosure the

owners to others, to times past and future,

“basement.” Together, Lackey and Lehn

to memories that are joyful, associative,

selected visually porous materials and

and sometimes painful. It’s with intention

added lighting that made the structure

that the installation is titled Seat of

ethereal. They grouped the objects and

Learning. The gerund implies infinite

their narratives into seven vignettes of

possibility, the objects and architectural

varying proportion, so that as visitors

site encourage reflection. Here, learning

enter the structure, they encounter

is not a singular event; it is a process, a

the displays and see the objects one

journey proportional to the time and

by one and in association with others.

intention that each visitor invests.

Just as each interviewee peered into layers of meaning suggested by their object, participants in the installation see objects through layers of scrim that obscure and reveal their appearance. Journeying also lies at the heart of Lackey’s practice. Her image making results in conceptual maps that delineate spaces suggestive of relationship and movement along pathways. Movement is implicit in her maps, while relationship


Author’s note: all quotations are based

studio conversations with the artists between November 1 and 3, 2019. Rebecca Hart is the Vicki and Kent Logan Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Denver Art Museum. Her thirty-year-long curatorial practice is grounded in efforts to connect artists to a wider public, and often involves working with artists to establish a critical vocabulary. Like Jane Lackey and Thomas Lehn, she is a graduate of Cranbrook Academy of Art, an institute that honors haptic and experiential learning.

























1. JD Sell, Opie Klaus, 1973 VW Beetle

5. Jane Lackey/Thomas Lehn, vintage school desk

9. Laura Mulry, whiskey bottle and piece of peat

13. Rita Hug, tear vial

2. David Gamble, child’s rocking chair

6. Joanne Lefrak, boots

10. Gail Rieke, travel journal suitcase

15. Ren Murata-Long, “Greepo” stuffed monkey

11. EJ Jennings, iron pot

16. Elaine Querry, antelope horns

12. Bonnie Lynch, bird’s nest with stone

17. Michelle Mosser, stereo slide viewer

3. Maggie Carson, Remington typewriter 4. Edie Tsong, knitted doll

7. Hector Poveda Morales, agenda/diary 8. Gary Griffin, compass/sundial

14. Susan York, Eva Zeisel teapot

18. Peggy Diggs, father’s “Family Diary”

22. Michael Hoffer, kitchen knife

19. Darrell Wilks, paint jar

23. Linda Swanson, father’s WWII medal, mother’s WAVES pin

20. Varuni Kanagasundaram, ceramic sculpture

24. Tamara J. Moore, nurse’s pin/pencil

21. Henry Muchmore, hammer









25. RJ Ward, baseball (signed by Willie Mays)

28. A  eh Jay Chuenjit Hollenbeck, letter from adoptive parents

30. H  akim Bellamy, turquoise prayer beads

26. Joyce Victor, tablecloth from Odisha

29. B  en Dallas, celluloid photo medallion

31. Eliza Twichell, a ring

27. Peter Madsen, knitted hat

32. M  ira Burack, black duvet cover


The artists are very grateful to all assistants, volunteers, professionals, students and those who so kindly helped with this project. Seat of Learning video still, 2019



Daisy McGowan, Director, GOCA UCCS

Axle Contemporary: Jerry Wellman,

Stephanie Von Fange, GOCA UCCS

SITE Santa Fe/Education Lab: Joanne Lefrak

Matt Barton, Co-Director of Visual Arts, UCCS and

Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS: GOCA

PUBLICATION: Rebecca Hart, Writer


Daisy McGowan, Writer

Spencer McDonald, Santa Fe, NM

FIXER Brand Design Studio, Design

Joshua Dorado, Colorado Springs, CO

Allison Daniell/Stellar Propeller Studio, Photography Kristin Kearns, Copy Editing


David Gamble

Susan York

Chris Barnes

Marsha Bol

Laura Mulry

Hakim Bellamy

Doug Jones

Tim and Susan Kilkenny

Joanne Lefrak

Peter Taussig

Stephanie Burns

Linda Mortensen

Mary Eloisa

Rodney Carswell

Mark Beaver

Sara Easterson Bond

Holly Maiz

Erin Currier

Amy Bunting

Michael Hoffer

his sculpture class members/Installation Art

and Museum Studies Intern

Centennial Printing, Printing

Jane Lackey, Content Editor

Eliza Twichell

Darrell Wilks

Henry Muchmore

Maggie Carson

Linda Swanson

Michelle Mosser

Mira Burack

Edie Tsong

Rachel Manera

Pat Griffin

Ben Dallas

RJ Ward

Broados Mobbs

Michelle Goodman

Ren Murata-Long

Peter Madsen

Allan Graham

Nancy Sutor

Hector Poveda Morales

Gloria Graham

Phat Le

Yuki Murata

Jot Kaur Khalsa

Willy Richardson

Karume Henry

Paula Lozar

Christopher McAllister

Carolyn Kastner

Abby Ferber

Ilona Pachler

Beth Cutter

Madelin Coit

Jene Jackson

Artemesio Romera y Carver

Frances Gomeztagle

Gary Griffin EJ Jennings

Rita Hug

Peggy Diggs

Tamara J. Moore

Jonathan Lowe, Video Magic, Santa Fe, NM


Gail Rieke

JD Sell

Grant Taylor, Santa Fe, NM

SFCC Fine Woodworking Department

Joyce Victor

Aeh Jay Chuenjit

Chris Worth



Kanagasundaram STUDIO ASSISTANT: Inge Sullivan


Matthew Chase-Daniel

Events Exhibitions Preparator

GOCA UCCS Student Employees


TRANSPORT: Level Fine Art Services: Henry Muchmore

Bonnie Lynch Elaine Querry

Marguerite Wilson

Daniel Forest

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Seat of Learning - GOCA 2020  

Seat of Learning is an art installation investigating time, movement, memory, knowledge, and how we learn from material objects. The concept...

Seat of Learning - GOCA 2020  

Seat of Learning is an art installation investigating time, movement, memory, knowledge, and how we learn from material objects. The concept...

Profile for entcenter