At Webster’s homecoming last year, Cecille R. Hunt Gallery Director Jeffrey Hughes reminisced about the past with past Webster student, Vintage Vinyl owner and KDHX’s Soul Selector Tom “Papa” Ray. During their conversation about the decades of old, a question arose: Where were you in ‘72?
On Friday, Sept. 23 Cecille R. Hunt Gallery opened its fall exhibition: “Where Were You in ‘72?” The exhibition is a blended curation of community artifacts and alumni artwork from the early 1970s. The collection process started with Hughes reaching out to faculty and acquaintances, asking the nominal question.
“Some people remember it very well. And almost everyone has an association,” Hughes said. “I was concerned a month ago that I was barely going to have a show. It seemed so sparse. As it went along, we had so much stuff, we had to take things out.”
As visitors walk throughout, they’ll experience paintings and drawings from students at Webster College, photos of students at the time, popular music and movie clips from the early 70s and pieces made by local artists during their career 50 years ago. Surrounding the ceiling of the exhibition will be a timeline of events happening just before, throughout and just after 1972.
“I’m sort of arguing artistically – as well as culturally – that 1970 to 1975 really shifts,” Hughes said. “All of these strides for people that were happening throughout the 60s maybe come to a culmination in the middle of the 70s . . . the shift takes place on almost every level of culture.”
The shift was also something Ray experienced. During his speech at the show’s opening, Ray explained his experience coming to a liberal arts school after growing up in the Deep South during the tumultuous 60s. The culture of the new home and new decade, both resonated with him.
“At Webster college, in 1972, you could walk down to the lunch counter, sit down as a male in full, absolute David Bowie drag and be applauded,” Ray said. “But there was one person I knew who had to sit at a table by herself. She was from St. Charles, Missouri and she let everybody know she was voting for Richard Nixon.”
Throughout his time at Webster, Ray was introduced to various new artists and genres he never had been before. Through these introductions, he realized his true calling of working in music, after originally coming to school to study English.
When asked the titular question, Ray replied: “I was having fun.”
The exhibition will be on display in the gallery through Oct. 29.