New Exhibitions Now Open

June 9 – July 28, 2016

Ann Coddington & Kelly K Wright


Kelly K Wright : and I will dwell


Ann Coddington: senescence


More images available here.

2016 SWIC Student Show

Our annual exhibition of Southwestern Illinois College art students is now open through May 12th.

Visit for images of the award winners!

Summer Intensives – Registration Now Open!


Our Summer Intensives are back!

Looking for something for your middle school or high school student this summer? Registration is now open for our 3D, painting, drawing, and illustration classes.

Visit for more details.

2016 Life Experienced: A Senior Art Competition Award Winners

Visit our Facebook page to see the award winners of our limited showing of the Senior Art Competition.


SWIC mourns friend of art and education, donor Peg Schmidt


Memorials may be made to the William and Florence Schmidt Art Center

Southwestern Illinois College, the SWIC Foundation, and the William and Florence E. Schmidt Art Center staffs mourn the loss of dear friend Margaret “Peg” Schmidt, who passed away January 27.

“As John shares at every opportunity, Peg was the driving force in creating the magnificent Schmidt Art Center on our Belleville Campus,” said SWIC President Georgia Costello, Ph.D.  “The adjacent sculpture and the Schmidt Family Gardens were also part of her grand vision and dear to her heart.”

In addition to the couple’s support of the Schmidt Art Center through the William E. Schmidt Charitable Foundation, they also established two endowed SWIC Foundation scholarships in 1994: the William E. & Florence Schmidt Memorial – Art and the William E. & Florence Schmidt Memorial – Business. Thanks to these scholarships more than 200 students studying art, business or computer information systems have been able to pursue their academic dreams.

Peg knew the benefit of a community college education, having earned her AA degree from Monticello College in Godfrey, IL in 1949. She attended the University of Kansas, but ultimately earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in studio art from then McKendree College in 1975.

She was known for her original art, as well as the eclectic collection of art that she and John so loved to collect. She was also known as a tireless volunteer for organizations like the Shelter Shop in Belleville and the Golden Goose in Catalina, Arizona. She was active in the Evanston Art Center and garden club while the family resided there. From Evanston, Peg and John moved to Belleville where they lived for 27 years before retiring to Tucson, Arizona in 1998.

Peg and the love of her life, John, were married 65 years. They had two children, Susie Hilkemeyer and Tom Schmidt, and four grandchildren. She adored her sweet step-grand family including Kelly, Scott, Summer and Jackson Taylor of Newport Beach, California. The family’s newest addition – great granddaughter Stephanie Hilkemeyer – made her appearance January 26.

Function & Ceremony: The Art of Melanesia

Function & Ceremony: The Art of Melanesia in the Marsh Gallery

Function & Ceremony: The Art of Melanesia in the Marsh Gallery

For the first time in its 15-year history, the Schmidt is exhibiting works from its Melanesian collection. Objects include, but are not limited to, Gope (spirit boards), a Mwai mask, Sepik River Region canoe prows, and Kaima costumes.

Iatmul Mwai Spirit Mask, Papua New Guinea, wood, pigments, fiber, claystone inlaid with cowry shells, boar tusks, & human hair

Iatmul Mwai Spirit Mask, Papua New Guinea, wood, pigments, fiber, claystone inlaid with cowry shells, boar tusks, & human hair

Sago Bowls, Koiwat & Kamangauwi Villages, Papua New Guinea, terracotta and pigment

Sago Bowls, Koiwat & Kamangauwi Villages, Papua New Guinea, terracotta and pigment

Curator’s Essay by Jessica Mannisi:
Defining Melanesia is a bit tricky, whether it be culturally or geographically. Anthropologists cannot agree on definitive boundaries. Generally, it is considered as a sub region of Oceania, consisting of four countries: Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea, as well as the territories of West Papua and New Caledonia.  In such a small region, the area is home to more than 1,000 languages – the densest rate of languages in relation to land mass on earth (approximately 435 miles² per language). The indigenous populations are divided amongst hundreds of small-scale societies, ranging from a few dozen to 200,000 people, and these societies are often completely cut off from each other due to the extreme topography of the lands.

Nevertheless, there are some common artistic ties that most scholars can agree upon. Common traits among the people of Melanesia are:

  1. The tools they use have the technical development of the late Stone Age. (Materials for tools include stone blades, shark teeth, shell splinters, sea urchin spine drills, files made of shark or ray skin, and obsidian.)
  1. Artists’ names are unknown. (Religious significance of objects always takes precedence – not the maker.)
  1. There is a firm connection with religion that dominates all aspects of daily life. (Even the most functional objects commonly have religious or spiritual connotations and are never merely decorative.)

Unlike Polynesian and Micronesian art, Melanesian art is based on ancestor worship, totemism, and other religious concepts, but never on chieftains or those of the living.

There are some things to consider while walking through this exhibition.

First of all, it is important to remember that the people of Melanesia never make something just for aesthetic reasons. A work of art in and of itself is an absurdity to them. Every swirl, embellishment, or animal depiction has a spiritual or sacred purpose or meaning. For example, the decision to use crocodile heads on canoe prows is not because they look beautiful (or menacing). The crocodile is a sacred being. Origin stories claim a giant, ancient crocodile brought the land up out of the primordial ocean, and the land still rests on this animal. Upsetting it can mean earthquakes and destruction.

Also, several of the objects in the Schmidt’s permanent collection are believed to house ancestral spirits. From a Western perspective it is a little difficult to wrap one’s head around the idea, but these objects are not just remembrances or images of an ancestor – they ARE the ancestor.

This is the first time in the Schmidt’s 15-year history that these works have been exhibited together, and there are several reasons for this. To begin with, they are all somewhat fragile. The materials used to create these pieces are far more delicate and ephemeral than a work of art made of metal, oil paint, or even glass. Even with their sacred nature, the people of Melanesia understood this and made replacements once the object had reached the end of its lifespan, so to speak.

Furthermore, there is the sacred nature to consider. It is important as a museum to be a respectful steward of such spiritually valuable objects, whether one believes in them or not. To display an object that potentially holds an ancestral spirit should be done so with care, respect, and the proper knowledge.

I have passed these objects almost daily over the last 6 years, and have wanted to give them their moment to be appreciated by the public. For much of 2015, I’ve done careful research to determine the identity, culture, and purpose of these objects, and I have gained an even greater appreciation for them. Amazingly, this collection is in excellent condition, and several of the objects are somewhat rare examples of their kind.

With all this being said, I hope you enjoy this rare viewing of our Melanesian collection.
About the Collection

Most of the works in our Melanesian collection come from a generous donation by Charles J. Stathis in 1999. The Mwai mask was acquired through a purchase by the SWIC Student Committee for the Visual Arts in 1992.

Exhibition runs through February 25th. For more information, visit

Typewriter Tim: Zen & the Art of Typewriter Tim

Typewriter Tim's "Balance," metal and glass

Typewriter Tim’s “Balance,” metal and glass

Tim Jordan, aka Typewriter Tim, started playing the typewriter as a percussive instrument while studying painting at the University of Kansas. Soon after, he got the idea to blowtorch manual typewriters, and did so after someone told him that he couldn’t. From there, he stumbled upon the idea of infusing glass into them after accidentally jamming some glass dips into an old one, and spent years finding a glass blower that would let him experiment with mixing glass and metal – something that you’re not supposed to do.

When he’s not blowing glass into typewriters or playing improvisational funk music with his band, he is an art facilitator and therapist at Artists First at the Turner Center for the Arts.

Typewriter Tim's "Untitled #1," metal

Typewriter Tim’s “Untitled #1,” metal, and charcoal and ink drawings “Happy Accident” and “From the Top”

Artist Statement:
I started playing the typewriter as a percussive instrument while studying painting at The University of Kansas in 1993. Soon after, I started blowtorching typewriters after someone told me I couldn’t. I “accidentally” jammed some glass dips I had upside down into a torched typewriter. I then became obsessed with recreating that effect without glue.

For the next 10 years I asked every glassblower in the region I was in to help me pour glass through typewriters and they all said the same thing, “Glass doesn’t mix with metal. It won’t work.”

I moved back to St. Louis from Los Angeles and got a random phone call from someone at The Third Degree Glass Factory after he heard what I wanted to do. I couldn’t believe it because I had already given up my quest to find a glassblower by then. So we started burning, filling, ladling, dripping, flipping, pouring, wrapping, and playing with glass and typewriters and their parts, having the greatest time doing it.

My bands play the most beautiful improvisational funk music with a typewriter player for 3-4 hours nonstop just like how we throw 2200° glass on interesting metal machines.

Zen and the Art of Typewriter Tim is a retrospective of process, duality, setting the stage, letting go, and the work creates itself with the help of my friends. I like the idea of things that don’t mix, and are extremely different, getting along and being cool. People think it’s funny that I hate to type. My smug answer is that typewriters don’t type. We just sit there, waiting for a muse. That part is you.

Typewriter Tim's "Untitled," metal and glass

Typewriter Tim’s “Untitled,” metal and glass

Typewriter Tim’s exhibition runs through February 25th. For more information, visit