Maria Nelson is a senior communication studies major from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. She enjoys road trips, almond milk lattes, and hanging out with her cat.

"From Clay to the Cloud: the Internet Archive and Our Digital Legacy" exhibition at the Laband Gallery

Clay sculptures by artist Nuala Creed. The exhibit focuses on preservation of our culture through the internet. These sculptures remind us of the crucial human involvement in creating an internet archive. 

Have you ever considered who will be able to read your latest tweet a hundred years from now? More importantly, have you ever thought about who would care? Laband Art Gallery’s newest exhibition, entitled “From Clay to the Cloud: the Internet Archive and Our Digital Legacy,” urges us to consider the cultural record we create through the Internet and how that record is preserved.

The exhibit will feature clay sculptures by Nuala Creed, who modeled the forms after individuals responsible for archiving data in the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive is an organization that “is working to prevent the Internet—a new medium with major historical significance—and other ‘born-digital’ materials from disappearing into the past,” according to the library’s website. For the Internet Archive, all of the billions of pieces of content humans create each day on the web are potentially important pieces of human history that should be documented. With this in mind, Creed chose her Internet Archive subjects as a way to “remind us of the crucial human involvement” in creating a digital archive, according to a press release for the exhibit.

“We as humans are leaving a legacy,” said Laband Gallery director and curator Carolyn Peter about the importance of understanding what we choose to document in the digital age and why. Peter said that the exhibition asks gallery-goers, “How will the information and the activities you’re conducting online now represent you in 10 years or 50 years? Beyond that, speaking many, many more years ahead, how is what we’re doing as individuals representing our legacy and our current 21st century culture for someone looking back in the year 3000 or 4000?”

In addition to helping us consider our own digital footprint, “From Clay to the Cloud” also focuses on the distinctly human desire to document our experiences and histories. Creed’s use of clay, one of the oldest substances found on Earth, to be manipulated by humans for both art and utility is somewhat of an ironic nod to the evolution of the archiving tools themselves.

Peter said Creed chose clay because it “represents the human involvement in all of this archiving and reminds us that in the past and certainly still in the present ... there are individual human beings involved with all of this. They are making decisions about what to save, and they’re making it possible.”

Another especially compelling aspect of the exhibit is that it will not only work to spark conversation among the art and art history majors, but throughout the LMU community as a whole. Because Peter’s position as curator revolves around bringing exhibitions to Laband that draw on subjects from a variety of fields, “From Clay to the Cloud” brings together thought from a variety of disciplines, from archaeology to computer science, from communication studies to history, in order to present an interdisciplinary viewpoint on the creation and recording of the human experience.

“From Clay to the Cloud” will be on display at the Laband Art Gallery between Jan. 23 and March 20. A special opening reception featuring an artist talk by Creed herself will be held on Saturday, Jan. 23 from 2-5 p.m.

This is the opinion of Maria Nelson, a senior communication studies major from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Tweet comments to @LALoyolan or email

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