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First-Year Seminar students turned art exhibitionists invite campus and community to question their sense of authenticity at the Fact or Fiction show installed at the Williams Center for the Arts Gallery through next Friday.

A reception for Fact or Fiction will be held 2 p.m. Saturday. It is free and open to the public.

Alastair Noble, assistant professor of art and instructor for the First-Year Seminar course Fact or Fiction: Authenticity and Artifact, says each student was asked to invent a civilization, and the class chose one as the context for its creation of artifacts for the exhibition.

“The artifacts could be hundreds of years old or fairly recent. It’s intentionally ambiguous,” says Noble.

Designed to make students question the authenticity of an artifact presented in a museum setting, the course objectives include the topics of studying fictional mythology and how it affects understanding, creating objects that reflect the social and cultural structure of the fictional civilization, and producing a catalogue for the exhibition that describes the significance of the objects in the fictional civilization.

The class visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Bachman Publick House in Easton to gain understanding about the ways culture can be structured.

Deirdre Maher ’08 (Merrick, N.Y.) says the course helped her learn to question what makes artifacts important and noteworthy. After viewing slides of two civilizations called the Cyladic and Llhurros, she says she began to question authenticity, and once she learned that the civilizations were imaginary the message was solidified.

“I think this discovery was an important experience because it taught me not to believe everything an authority figure tells me,” she says. “I learned to ask questions, be more analytical, and not to be a passive onlooker.

“I was very excited to begin construction of the exhibition and I am very pleased with how it turned out. I enjoyed the fact that it was a spontaneous experience. I am proud of the work that my group and I have done. I also am very proud of all of the other groups and their contributions to the exhibition.”

The gallery is located in the Williams Center for the Arts, Hamilton and High Streets, Easton, Pa. Exhibition hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday; 2-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, as well as noon-5 p.m. the first Sunday of each month for First Sunday Easton; a half-hour before Williams Center performances; and by appointment. For more information, call (610) 330-5361 or email

The Williams Center gallery is funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Categorized in: Academic News