Aug 21, 2023 - Culture

New Des Moines art exhibit invites you to touch the collection

Patrons interact with "Underneath Everything with Family." Photo: Brittany Brooke Crow, Photo: Courtesy of Des Moines Art Center

Go ahead — touch this art.

What's happening: The Des Moines Art Center is celebrating its 75th anniversary with a free exhibition, "Underneath Everything," which features ceramics.

  • One of the installations is by artist Rae Stern. Patrons are encouraged to touch everyday objects like teapots and sugar bowls to reveal lit-up portraits and sceneries.

State of play: Her installation is inspired by the European tableware she grew up admiring at her family's home in Israel.

  • Stern didn't understand the significance of certain pieces as a child. But she later learned they were handed down by her relatives who were forced to flee Europe to escape persecution during the Holocaust, she tells Axios.
  • Patrons can touch the objects to see an image light up and watch it fade away again, similar to memories.

Zoom in: All of the images are pre-World War II and a mix of Stern's family photos, plus photos from the public.

What they're saying: The installation is meant to represent the meaning objects have in our lives.

  • "We all have objects that remind us of a time that we can no longer have access to or an experience that is in our memory alone, but is no longer part of our lives," Stern says.

If you go: The free exhibit runs through Sept. 10.


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