Grinnell College, a highly ranked private institution in central Iowa, was founded by abolitionists in 1846. This foundation in civil rights continues to inform its mission: the college aims to prepare its students to “serve the common good” and work toward social justice.1 These principles extend to its collection of art, which is, as the collection website explains, “distinguished by its social and political commentary by artists who have taken up pen and stylus as weapons against oppression, exploitation and human folly.”2 A recent exhibition at the college’s Faulconer Gallery, “Crossing the Line: Selections from the Grinnell College Art Collection,” included approximately 50 antiquities, maps and works on paper from the 17th century to the present, and provided timely insight into how cultural artifacts help people navigate difficult times. The exhibition was curated by Daniel Strong, associate director and curator of exhibitions, and Kay Wilson, curator of the collection. Wilson and Lesley Wright, director of the Faulconer Gallery, spoke with Sarah Kirk Hanley about Grinnell’s commitment to political art, and how the collection is serving the students and public at this remarkable moment in our national history.
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