Mary Cain’s Section and Installing for Showing Thinking

This exhibition blog post will be divided into two parts: brainstorming and installing Mary Cain’s section for Showing Thinking

Brainstorming for Showing Thinking

When it came to design the layout for Mary Cain’s space, I had a clear idea for the small room, but not the wall in the other room.  In the small room, I knew I wanted it to be in her office space to showcase her as a faculty member in the humanities department where students and professors could visit her.  The office space would contain evident artifacts, such as a desk and pencil holder, but the features that would make Mary Cain’s office space unique would be her posters.  One poster I choose for the space was the Women’s Declaration of Independence because it visually presented her interest in women’s history and her role as a female historian.  The second picture I choose was a painting of John Brown because of her role as a white professor engaging with topics of racial identity.  The books I selected for her desk also followed these principles in her academic research.

The second wall in the other room however was more challenging.  My initial concept was to showcase her personal life and her approach to historiographical thinking.  The image below is a blueprint for my assigned wall.


As you can see, I wanted the family artifacts that in her office to have a section of their own.  Because Mary Cain does not explicitly talk about her family’s history in her personal statement, women such as her mother and her great-grandmother played and important role for her education.  Her great-grandmother’s high school diploma and her mother’s women college banner represents the achievement of women in education.  I believe that Mary cain’s job as a professor at Agnes Scott College continues their legacy as educated women.

The piece that I wanted to be central was the history circle I learned in Historical Thinking with Dr. Wu.  The reason I wanted to use this circle because it represents how historians interact with historical text.  While they are reading a text they have to be aware of the social/cultural context of the author and the time they live in because context will shape the analysis.  Overall, the circle is a clear understanding of process.

Installing Showing Thinking

When it was time for installing I learned that I had to be flexible with my concepts.  I learned that I had to be flexible with my concepts.  I learned that the circle concept that I was so adamant about was neither a concept Mary Cain was familiar with nor was it used in every Historical Thinking class.  The image that was used instead was Mary Cain’s three legged stool, which was her approach to making a great historical question for research.  The three legged stool comprises of a topic that is rested on primary sources, secondary sources,  and probing question as legs.  This image turned out to be useful because it displayed Mary Cain’s process in doing historical research.

Changes that also took place was the use of space.  At first, I didn’t have enough images to make the second room full.  In order to solve that problem, I decided to place classroom desks around the chalkboard paint to emulate a classroom setting.  This decision was effective because it created a sculptural element to the space.  In addition, it showcased Mary Cain’s role as an educator at a women’s college.  Overall, the installing process taught me to never be strict in my ideas and always find room for adjustment.



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