Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University will celebrate its featured summer exhibitions, “Northward: Niagara River Views,” “Knowing Land,” and “Shaping Nature.” These dynamic exhibitions illustrate the connection between art and our local environment. CAM summer hours are Wednesday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursday, 1–7 p.m.; and Friday–Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. General admission is free.
“Northward Niagara River Views,” curated by CAM Registrar Mary Helen Miskuly, a Niagara Falls, N.Y., native, explores the beauty of the lower Niagara River between 1811 and 1888 through the paintings and prints of 16 artists, including 11 pieces by William Henry Bartlett (1809–1854) a British artist, best known for his numerous drawings rendered into steel engravings. The centerpiece of Northward is a never-been-shown painting of Niagara University created in 1873 by Danish-American artist Ferdinand Richardt (1819–1895), which underwent a year-long conservation treatment in 2022.
“Working with the Charles Rand Penney Collection of Historical Prints has given me a renewed appreciation of my hometown,” said Miskuly. “Since I returned to this area to live and work at CAM, I've learned more about the Niagara River and Falls. Northward is the fourth Niagara Falls-themed CAM exhibition I've curated, and I'm still learning new facts daily.”
“Knowing Land” was developed in collaboration with the Tuscarora Environment Program, an initiative of the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force. This exhibition focuses on the culture-environment connection through Tuscarora Nation community-based artists, oral history excerpts, and historic photographs.
“Knowing Land reminds us of the obligation to steward the physical environment,” said CAM Curator of Folk Arts Edward Millar. “But we also need to remember the cultural knowledge of these landscapes for future generations. Our environment is more than just a physical space to pass through or occupy: it is an inseparable part of community, culture, and everyday lived experiences.”
“Shaping Nature,” by Buffalo-based Japanese potter Junko McGee explores the relationship between nature and artistry. It is McGee's first solo exhibition, curated by Niagara University’s Exhibiting Cultures class, led by Millar. McGee’s passion for experimentation focuses on learning new techniques, shapes, and textures that encourage the sensory exploration of each piece. This exhibition features over 20 ceramic items, including vases, bowls, teapots, and cups. Visitors are encouraged to touch specially-designed textured tiles, then record what the tile’s texture reminds them of, a memory that it inspires, or how it makes them feel.
“Pottery should be touched,” said McGee. “My pottery is people-friendly, meaning that when you touch it, it has a comfortable feeling; not just the shape, but also its beautiful look and function. Clay comes from nature and the elements that inspire me. Inspiration can come from anywhere; mine comes from what I see and feel.”