Purdue’s new Fountain Gallery, located in the historic Perrin Building in downtown Lafayette, opened this summer, marking an initiative by the University to share art with Lafayette, as well as to encourage Purdue students to explore the greater Lafayette community.
It’s about making connections, according to Craig Martin, director of Purdue University Galleries. “We want students to participate in things that are happening downtown, and we hope members of the arts and culture community on campus can use this space for their own presentations.”
The gallery’s first exhibition, “Connections: Works on Paper from the Purdue Galleries Collection,” was an opportunity to share pieces from the permanent collection. “These are works that Purdue University Galleries own and maintain,” explained Liz Erlewine, gallery coordinator. “It’s really exciting to get pieces from our collection out where so many people can see them. The collection includes a wide range of art by regional, national, and international artists, including works by current and former university faculty and students.”
The ever-changing exhibitions and activities are all focused on the same goal. “What we want to do here is expose people to things they haven’t seen,” says Martin. “We want to give them something weird and wonderful.”Getting public participation in gallery activities is crucial, he says. Throughout the summer, members of the public participated in a number of hands-on printmaking projects where they could create prints alongside the work of artists from the collection. During future exhibitions, there will be many more such opportunities.
At the gallery on opening night, Cynthia Fortner was excited about the potential of the space. Fortner, who has a Ph.D. from Purdue and whose son is currently enrolled at the university, had invited her friend Dorothy, a longtime Lafayette resident unaffiliated with the university, to the show.
Both seemed entranced with Minna Resnick’s print lithograph/screenprint entitled Different Kinds of Nature, featuring a kaleidoscopic collage of people, animals, and buildings. It was one of the first prints that greeted visitors as they walked through the gallery door.
“I love that we have a Purdue gallery in Lafayette proper,” said Fortner.