Montana State University

MSU professor and student win Mary Edsall McLaughlin Awards

May 27, 2016 -- MSU News Service

Gesine Janzen, associate professor in MSU's School of Art, has received the Mary Edson McLaughlin Award. MSU photo by Sepp Jannotta.

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BOZEMAN – Gesine Janzen, a professor in the Montana State University School of Art, and Billy Collins, a graduate student in the School of Film and Photography, are the 2016 recipients of the Mary Edsall McLaughlin Award from the MSU College of Arts and Architecture.

The awards were announced recently by William Shields, interim dean of the college.

“The McLaughlin awards are quite unique in that they recognize both students and faculty and thus acknowledge the importance of both teacher and learner. I am most grateful to Don and Richard McLaughlin for endowing this award in memory of their mother,” Shields said in announcing the award.

Janzen is receiving an award of $3,000 to create a set of impressions from monuments across Montana.  Her impressions will be what are called squeezes. A squeeze is a highly detailed, lightweight and portable impression of a monument or inscription, for example, made by pounding layers of wet paper onto the surface of stone or other material, allowing it to dry and then carefully peeling off the dry pulp. This record can then be easily stored and studied. The process stems from pre-photography practices, when scholars and artists had to find other ways to collect portable records for research or other purposes.

Janzen also plans to visit the archives of the Freer and Sackler Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., to study the Ernst Herzfeld squeeze collection of ancient near Eastern architecture and inscriptions before starting her own collection.

“I am interested in using this technique to document and preserve the many graves of early immigrants to Montana, which will memorialize forgotten people and their stories,” Janzen said. “This project (is) directly tied to my current work, which deals with the narratives of immigrants and how their lives connect to our lives in the present day.”

Collins is receiving an award of $2,000 to photograph the physical and social environments surrounding America’s borders with Canada and Mexico. He plans to present photos from locations in southern Arizona and northern Montana and Idaho in a diptych format where opposing images maintain a formal similarity in composition, but contrast in their physical and social environments.

“The project’s content depends on what situations arise,” Collins said. “But, potential opportunities (include) comparing the fortifications at each location, juxtaposing individuals at each location and contrasting the welcome centers.”

Collins believes that modern day political borders have very real effects upon the vitality of individuals across the globe, particularly as borders are at the forefront of current humanitarian crises.

“While borders are represented physically on the landscape, their presence courses through our subconscious perceptions of hierarchy and cultural identity,” Collins said. “They ultimately manifest themselves as one chief social consequence, division and separation.”

He hopes that the project will inspire introspection and conversation.

Janzen and Collins will present public seminars next year to showcase their projects.

The Mary Edsall McLaughlin Awards were created by Don McLaughlin, an MSU architecture graduate and a principal of Place Architecture, and his brother, Richard, who endowed the awards in the memory of their mother, the late Mary Edsall McLaughlin. Mary Edsall McLaughlin also attended MSU.

The awards are given to students or faculty who propose a project that addresses the visual exploration of place and quality; curiosity and innovation; and people and place.

For more information on the McLaughlin grant, visit:

For more information on the College of Arts and Architecture, visit:

Contact: JoDee Palin, College of Arts and Architecture, (406) 994-6654 or