Grey Area | works by Chris Pahls

Nov. 13 - Jan. 5

Grey Area is a collection of drawings, paintings, and mixed media works focusing on the complex middle ground that exists in a world that is becoming increasingly polarized. This body of work features imagery derived from stories, conversations, and plays on words in order to create illustrations for stories that haven’t yet been fully realized. A ‘grey area’ might be defined as an ill-defined situation or field not readily conforming to a category or to an existing set of rules. With this in mind, these works exist to capture a small moment of conciseness from the artist that eagerly awaits the interaction of a viewer or viewers.

Analog and digital, organic and geometric, abstract and objective all mingle together in various states of harmony and tension. Consider your time engaging with these works as a beginning point to your own conversation or a story to be told. Don’t miss the opportunity to engage in connection with those viewing the works alongside you. We were created for community and the interaction that swims in the middle of the complex grey areas of our existence.

This exhibition is generously underwritten by Ashley & Keir Swisher.


Benjamin Todd Wills | Cell Drawings

Nov. 20 - Jan. 5, 2020

When he began writing to inmates, many of the first responses came from people who had been housed in solitary confinement. Over the years, Wills has collected a large number of cell drawings. The drawings all depict essentially identical spaces, but they come on different colored papers, some with 3D shading, some as birds’ eye views with everything labeled. “Bed mat is about 1½ inches thick,” one reads.

Wills took one of these drawings and built it to its real-life dimensions. Stepping inside feels like entering a strange, cartoon world, where one is immediately aware of the confines of the space—eight feet long, six feet wide and ten feet high.

This exhibition is generously underwritten by Reaching Out from Within volunteers at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility.

AVAP |a scientific inquiry

Nov. 20 - Jan. 5, 2020

The distinctions between artists and explorers exist only in the process of documentation. Thomas Moran’s decision to join Ferdinand Hayden’s expedition and paint the landscape of the American West was a significant moment for westward exploration and preservation. The driving force behind each man, a shared curiosity, wanting to document and share their unfolding new world.


San-shin (Mountain Spirit)  , 1800s   Korea , Joseon dynasty (1392–1910)  ink, mineral color on silk  Museum purchase: R. Charles and Mary Margaret Clevenger Art Acquisition Fund, 2014.0052  Image courtesy of the Spencer Museum of Art, The University of Kansas

San-shin (Mountain Spirit), 1800s

Korea, Joseon dynasty (1392–1910)

ink, mineral color on silk

Museum purchase: R. Charles and Mary Margaret Clevenger Art Acquisition Fund, 2014.0052

Image courtesy of the Spencer Museum of Art, The University of Kansas

Shattering the Void

January 15 - March 8, 2020

Shattering the Void moves through representations of everyday life to otherworldly realms from Chinese, Korean, and Japanese art. Some of the themes addressed include longevity, transcendence, and myths and legends, which both contrast with and link to the earthly influences of calligraphy, tea, and personal adornment. Through contemporary considerations of myth and everyday life, realms of meaning are built across voids of time and geography. This exhibition is part of the Freeman Foundation K–12 Educational Outreach Initiative by the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. A main goal of this project is to build bridges of communication between East Asian culture and local Kansas communities through the Spencer’s collections.

The installation also includes a digital platform where visitors can engage with three-dimensional scans of artworks as well as other educational resources. These resources were developed with a committee of educators from the Salina area for use in K-12 classrooms, in conjunction with visiting artist-teachers and supplemented with materials such as books, art supplies, and 3D-printed reproductions of some of the works in this exhibition. For more information about this project, please visit

This exhibition is funded by the Freeman Foundation.