Special Collections and Archives

Simple Gestures Installation

Special Collections and Archives

Simple Gestures Installation

Important Notice: Due to a grant-sponsored project to digitize materials from the May 4 Collection, in-person use of the May 4 Collection is available by appointment only. Please help us serve you better by contacting us in advance to schedule an appointment for access to this collection.

Simple Gestures Installation archive

May 4 Collection - Box 112

Finding Aid

Prepared by Dominique D. Williams, August 7, 1995; Updated January 2012; February 2017

Inclusive Dates: 1995
Extent: .5 cubic foot (1 half-size record storage box)
Physical Location: 12th floor


Historical Note: Kay Willens' installation was chosen in a juried competition as part of the 25th anniversary commemoration of May 4 at Kent State University. She was then an associate professor and chair of the Art and Art History department at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.

The installation was held in the main gallery of the Art Building at Kent State from April 5-May 10, 1995. The walls of the gallery were covered with packs of annual flower seeds held up by clothespins. Ten types of notecards were placed on tables in the room; four of them having pictures of the students killed, the other six having different scenes from May 4th. Those entering the exhibit were asked to write some thoughts about May 4th and/or the exhibit, on these cards, of their choice. They could then replace the seeds with the notecards. It was hoped that these seeds would be planted as a type of memorial.


Scope and Content:  This collection includes viewer response cards completed by those interacting with the installation and each of the seed packets included in the installation. Additionally, there is a proposal by Willens submitted to the gallery review committee, photographic slides that show the installation as it appeared in the Art Building, and clippings about this work.


Acquisition Information: Kay Willens donated this material to the Kent State University Special Collections and Archives in May 1995.


May 4 Collection - Box 112
Folder -- Contents

Physical Location: Please note the items listed in folders 1-11 below are filed in a smaller box inserted within Box 112.

  1. Simple Gestures: Response Cards: Schroeder Image, 1995
  2. Simple Gestures: Response Cards: Miller Image, 1995
  3. Simple Gestures: Response Cards: Scheuer Image, 1995
  4. Simple Gestures: Response Cards: Krause Image, 1995
  5. Simple Gestures: Response Cards: Guard at ROTC Annex Image, 1995
  6. Simple Gestures: Response Cards: Guard Personnel Image, 1995
  7. Simple Gestures: Response Cards: Guard with Rifles Image 1, 1995
  8. Simple Gestures: Response Cards: Guard with Rifles Image 2, 1995
  9. Simple Gestures: Response Cards: Guard, Crowd, Tear Gas Image, 1995
  10. Simple Gestures: Response Cards: Guard, Crowd, Tear Gas, Taylor Hall Image, 1995
  11. Simple Gestures: Seed Packets, 1995
    Scope and Content: Includes each variety of seed packet used in installation, arranged alphabetically by the common name of the flower.
  12. Simple Gestures: Oversized Response Cards, 1995
    Scope and Content: Includes response cards that were taped together or which included appended materials, making them larger in size than standard single response cards.
  13. Simple Gestures: Letter and Proposal by Kay Willens, 1995
  14. Simple Gestures: Clippings about Installation, 1995
  15. Simple Gestures: Photographs and Slides of Installation, 1995
  16. Simple Gestures: Postcard Exhibit Announcement, 1995