Article by Mark Anderson, Digital Scholarship & Collections Librarian, Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio.
In 2016, University of Iowa Professor Kim Marra answered a call that the Digital Scholarship & Publishing Studio made to University of Iowa faculty to “Get Digital with Your Scholarship”. Kim arrived at the Studio with a portfolio of horse-themed illustrations and an idea for a project to develop an immersive, multimedia, scholarly experience.
The current exhibit and video on display at the UI Main Library Gallery is a product of that idea. Unlike her books on other topics and the numerous articles Kim has written on the subject of people’s relationship with horses, the exhibit combines a rich variety of photographs, documents, sound, video, and equipment to tell the story of horses’ significant impact on the development of two locations: New York City and Iowa City.
The Studio’s mission to collaborate with faculty and students on the digital design, implementation, and circulation of their research is a perfect match with Kim’s vision for the Pull of Horses project. A number of Studio staff assisted in project elements such as video editing, digital mapping, and supporting the student sound designer, Wade Hampton, who quickly became an essential partner in the group.
Collaborations of this nature rely on areas outside the boundaries of the Studio. The UI Libraries’ Preservation Department was a huge help in digitizing the early 1900s magazine illustrations that became a major part of the video, (forcing me to learn the procedure for using the “Ken Burns” effect in Adobe Premiere – the editing software used to make the video). Additionally, it is hard to overstate just how fortunate we were to have Professor of Piano Dr. Alan Huckleberry from the School of Music, and his enthusiastic participation. He offered to record several pieces of horse -themed piano music for the video, for which there are no other recordings available. An excerpt of Dr. Huckleberry’s piano performance of “Meadowbrook Foxtrot” is available here.
One of the memories that will stay with me of preparing for the exhibit was that, on an unusually hot day in early fall (very unlike the temperature at the exhibit opening), Kim and I, and Mary Bennett and Hang Nguyen from the State Historical Society of Iowa in Iowa City were inside with the air conditioning and box after archival box, selecting and pulling photographs. We could not have pulled off the exhibit without their assistance and mastery of the collection.
Likewise, without the effort and skill of Bill Voss and Giselle Simón from the UI Libraries Conservation Department; Chris Clark and Will Brown from Library Information Technology; and the dedication, guidance, and hard work of Exhibition Coordinator Sara Pinkham and Exhibit Designer Kalmia Strong, there would be no exhibit. There are even more who lent their time and talents, and I hope they are just as proud of the Pull of Horses exhibit as I am.
The Pull of Horses on National and Local Histories and Identities will be on display in the Main Library Gallery through March 29, 2020. Visit lib.uiowa.edu/gallery for hours, events, and additional details about the exhibition.