New statue, image for Newcomb Art Museum

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Companion (Passing Through) by Brooklyn street artist KAWS will remain on Newcomb quad for one year. The installation is a part of the rebranding for the Newcomb Art Museum.

Nate Koch, Contributing Reporter

Students may do a double take as they walk down Newcomb quad this week. The rebranded Newcomb Art Museum, under Director Monica Ramirez-Montagut, has installed a new statue as part of her new direction for the museum.

The monolithic piece entitled “Companion (Passing Through)” is the creation of KAWS, a Brooklyn-based street artist. Its installation this fall is part of a dramatic revamp of the previously titled Newcomb Art Gallery, under new leadership from museum director Monica Ramirez-Montagut. 

“The sculpture is pretty scandalous,” Ramirez-Montagut said. “I don’t think we’ll have anything as overstated as this in the future, but I’m hoping people will warm up to it. I hope people want to see something that’s shocking and a little bit unsettling.” 

Mia Liu, a returning graduate student in accounting, had previously walked past the statue and then revisited it for a picture.

“Sometimes you’ll see statues out in front of museums, but definitely not like this one,” Liu said. 

As part of Newcomb’s new direction, the museum has been renamed to better reflect their purpose on campus and in the greater community.

“When the museum was founded, the idea behind calling it an art gallery was to let people know that there would be rotating exhibitions and that it wasn’t going to be a permanent collection exhibition,” Ramirez-Montagut said. “But over the years, people have come to think of art galleries as a place of commerce. The change of name was just to be more accurate to who we are and what we do.” 

The Newcomb Art Gallery was originally established 19 years ago as an addition to the Newcomb Art Department. It has housed the largest collection of Newcomb pottery in the world for many years. 

The museum touts a new website where users can view pictures from the institution’s existing collections. Its first exhibition of the year opens Sept. 9 and aims to feature more provocative works like those by KAWS, Karl Wirsum and Tomoo Gokita.  

“Definitely we want to build up visibility,” Ramirez-Montagut said. “I think a lot of students don’t even know that there’s a museum on campus, and if they do, they haven’t been inside, but I think they will for a KAWS exhibition.” 

In January, the museum plans to unveil an exhibition from controversial artist Kate Clark, who creates taxidermy animals with human faces.  

The KAWS statue will remain on campus for the entire academic year. The museum has installed two 24-hour security cameras to protect the piece and will have campus police do random checks every week.

James Newton, a Tulane senior and a representative to the museum’s advisory board, sees the improvements as a new avenue to break ground and resonate with the 21st century Tulanian. 

“I cannot express how excited I am to watch as the museum transforms and evolves in the future,” Newton said. “Not every show is for every person, but we are committed to reaching as wide a population as possible with the greatest impact we can.”