“Having a Museum of Art at a University is Quite Rare” – Interview with Galina Trifonova


Museum day, celebrated all around the word for more than 30 years, is May 18th. In honor of this holiday we spoke with the director of the SUSU Museum of Art, Galina Trifonova about the idea of creating a university museum and leading pieces of art and got to know one of the museum’s benefactors, Olga Grazdankina.

How many years old is the SUSU Art Hall?

G.T.: The Art Hall opened in 2003 and the first exhibition was from the collection of the Chelyabinsk Region Picture Gallery. The idea of opening the hall came from the Department of Art History and Culture Studies, from professors Nataliya Vladimirovna and Nikolay Pavlovich Parfentyev. It was formed with the hopes that artists, in thanks for the creation of the exhibition and support of art history, would offer the department’s laboratory their works for study by culture study students. I came to the university from the Chelyabinsk Region Picture Gallery, now known as the Chelyabinsk State Museum of Fine Art. As a museum professional with great experience, it was clear to me that this was a great opportunity – the creation of a university art museum. We worked on this idea, this guiding light, all the following years. Today it is obvious, that this idea has justified itself. Now all of the practical work by students of the department is completed here in the archives of the SUSU Art Museum and in the Art Hall. After graduation, having gained experience, they find professional work very quickly.

What does the museum’s work include?

G.T.: The university art museum is the youngest in the city. Now, in this big city, there are only two museums of art – the previously named, big, old, Chelyabinsk State Museum of Fine Art, and our young one, which was established by the rector in June 2016 on the basis of a collection which was brought together over 14 years. We show various kinds of art which have come from afar like, for example, one that came from Oxford University not long ago – they really value the exhibited works. Besides the fact that this is an art which requires attention in and of itself, that you want to look at, this is also a place to master a profession, and not just for future art historians, but also for architects, designers, and different specialties. It is very important to see original art in your youth which affects a person in a unique way. The understanding of creativity is tied to the understanding of energy and part of the energy is transferred from the creator to his creation, and is always present in his works. I believe that getting to know art is one of the most important things forming a worldview and personal ideas about life alongside mastering their profession. So, the work of our museum has a great future.

What kinds of pieces are held in the museum?

G.T.: The majority of pieces in the museum are gifts from artists and their families. Among our pieces there is a board from 1983 by Vasiliy Neyasov. The creation is quite large – 3 by 5 meters. Overall, an art museum at a university is something rare in our country. Pieces come to us through mutual interest. I know the artistic process and I know artists – we contact them and invite them to present their art with us. At this time, more than 700 pieces are stored at the museum. The university museum is a universal body – it serves for beauty, pleasure, development, creative expression, professional skills, and the awareness of human history.

Galina Trifonova invited one of the museum’s benefactors to the meeting, the young artist Olga Grazdankina, who shared her work experience.

G.T.: By trade, Olga is an engraver, her work with us began with the exhibition entitled “The history of graphic art: from drawing to engraving”. Olga responded to us and came with a portable printing press to show the process of printing engravings. She has a wonderful school, she is a graduate of the Chelyabinsk University of Art and the Krasnoyar Institute of Art. She has great pieces – we are discussing them now with students. I believe that she is a new cultural hero in the city’s art culture – this is a person who very sincere and takes the fate of Russian art culture very close to heart.

Olga, what is the main theme of your work?

O.G.: Social topics. Right now I am working on a series dedicated to the 100-year anniversary of the revolution. This is a cycle of small series, there will be cartonography and monotype. It’s a very long process, because I must find matching themes and techniques and make such an impression that it persuades. I am also under constant critique from my colleagues and get advice: some people advise adding color, some people say to take it away. In our field there is a lot of very difficult printing processes: design, creation of the print block, and much more. For three months already I have been doing two prints every day that satisfy me as their creator. This process is in full swing.

G.T.: Besides all of this, Olga has organized a studio, Pechka, at the Society of Artists.

O.G.: Yes, the goal of this studio is mostly an educational one. I noted, that our people don’t know what graphics and engraving are. Now is that kind of time – the time of advertising and marketing. To get a person to come to an exhibition, you have to practically beg them. We have to fight for every person who comes.

What do you do at your studio?

O.G.: People come to us for master classes and lectures. Both children and adults come. Not long ago, a man came to visit after seeing information about us on

the internet – he was interested in seeing a lathe machine. He works in a factory, but was interested in this kind of art.

Why did you decide to gift your pieces to the university?

O.G.: It’s a crime for an artist to keep their work to themselves. This is hard work, then the artist passes on, and his work goes in the garbage. I have already worked with SUSU, Galina Semyonova held excellent lectures about graphic artists. Together we are members of the Union of Artists and Representatives of Different Generations.

A meeting was held in honor of International Museum Day on May 18th at 15:30 at the Art Hall at which the SUSU Museum of Art showed its gratitude to its benefactors – artists and members of their families. Art historians and cultural professionals, who freely donated their pieces and works from their collections for the young university art collection.


Ekaterina Kuznetsova
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