IDAHO FALLS — Calling Idaho artists! The Museum of Idaho is expanding and looking for help with a project that is part of that expansion.
The museum is currently accepting submissions from Idaho-based artists. Selected artwork will serve as inspiration for an art piece that will form part of the entryway for the museum’s planned “The Way Out West” exhibit.
“With the expansion, the temporary exhibits will go into the expansion area,” museum spokesperson Rod Hansen said. “The current galleries will all be filled with Idaho-based stories. As you come from the new building to the old building to experience the Idaho side of things, this will be the first thing you encounter.”
“The art piece is going to be really unique because we’re not asking somebody to paint a mural,” museum spokesperson Chloe Doucette said. “Instead, we’re asking an artist to create a digital version of their work which we can then give to a separate craftsman to actually plasma cut out of a wall.”
As conceptualized, the piece would be a curved steel wall the color of a cliff face or another natural stone surface. The wall will have portals in the shape of the selected artwork cut into it, obscuring but also giving hints to what museum patrons will see on the other side of the wall, including a full-sized Colombian Mammoth.
“You won’t be able to see exactly what it is but you’ll be able to make out some portions,” said Hansen. “It’s like the old joke — if you ask three blind men to describe an elephant and one’s clutching the leg, one’s clutching the ear, one’s clutching the nose then you don’t really get the full picture. That’s sort of what we’re going for.”
The ultimate goal of the project is to generate anticipation and create an impressive reveal for the mammoth in June 2020.
Doucette said the museum’s Experience Team made the decision to reach out to Idaho artists to assist with the wall project.
“We really are interested in supporting local people and local artists,” she said. “We’re welcoming other perspectives, including artists, to share their creativity and their visions of Idaho with us, so then the exhibit can be more complete, more engaging and more relevant to everyone who sees it.”
Submissions for the project must be in a digital format. The museum has requested artwork with clean outlines representing the flora, fauna and landscape of the local area. While the original work does not need to be created in a digital program, museum representatives need digital files for the craftsmen cutting the artwork into the wall to work from.
Any Idaho resident is welcome to submit their work, but preference is being given to artists who are members of state’s federally recognized Native American tribes. According to Hansen, the initial idea for the wall was sparked by the way cave paintings tell stories and there is a desire to use a similar style of pictographs to visually render a story inspired by Idaho history.
“We want to be very sensitive to Native Americans and their ancestral connection to the land,” Hansen said. “If we do get some submissions from recognized Native American tribes, perhaps we’ll be able to pursue that angle. If not, we don’t want to impose any interpretation of any of that artwork from a Euro-American.”
Hansen said if the museum does not receive any submissions from Native Americans, they will go with an approach that focuses more on the local landscape.
Interested artists should submit their work to the Museum of Idaho no later than April 15, 2019, at 5 p.m. More details can be found at the museum’s Request for Proposals page.