ENGAGING WITH THE ARTS: MELLON FOUNDATION GRANT TO THE LUNDER INSTITUTE
With a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Lunder Institute for American Art at the Colby College Museum of Art will be able to support its inaugural programming, which aims to increase scholarly and community engagement with American art.
“We have already begun to see the ways in which the Lunder Institute is becoming the premier place for the study of American art, and this grant will be critical to the next phase of the institute’s development.”
— President David A. Greene
A 2014 Mellon Foundation grant generously supported the Colby Museum’s academic programming. This new grant will further expand opportunities for student and faculty research and scholarship within and across disciplines.
“As Colby continues to build on its strengths in the arts and humanities, we are grateful for the Mellon Foundation’s enduring commitment to these disciplines,” said President David A. Greene. “We have already begun to see the ways in which the Lunder Institute is becoming the premier place for the study of American art, and this grant will be critical to the next phase of the institute’s development.”
In order to achieve the goals set forth by the Lunder Institute, the $600,000 Mellon grant will be used to spur development in four key areas:
- Advancing American art scholarship and artistic practice through multi-disciplinary, multi-genre residencies and convenings;
- Engaging students and faculty by creating curricula that intersect teaching and research opportunities with visiting artists and scholars;
- Establishing exhibitions and publications in order to share and archive scholarly and artistic projects;
- Creating local and global collaborative opportunities that are in alignment with the Lunder Institute’s artistic and scholarly initiatives for the larger community, students, and faculty
The Lunder Institute is dedicated to fostering cross-cultural and transnational dialogue. It embraces an expansive definition of American Art: one that encompasses art not only in and from the United States but throughout the Americas, and one that includes indigenous and diasporic art in both historical context and contemporary practice. What sets the Lunder Institute apart is the way it centers contemporary artists and makers in all aspects of the Institute’s mission, allowing for more capacious and inclusive definitions of research and scholarship.
Because this type of research center typically exists as part of a large university or as a stand-alone institution, the Lunder Institute’s embedded position within a liberal arts college campus makes it unique among institutional peers. The integration of the Lunder Institute’s work, its artists, and its scholars into a liberal arts curriculum that fosters interdisciplinary inquiry as a path to both learning and action in the world allows for particularly rich, creative, and groundbreaking explorations of American art and its impact.
In its first academic year, the Lunder Institute hosted two renowned artists whose work and scholarship engaged with the Colby and greater-Waterville community. In the fall, social practice installation artist Theaster Gates, D.F.A. ’18, worked closely with students in an American Studies class on urban renewal projects, as well as met with community partners and residents, echoing Gates’ urban renewal work in Chicago’s South Side. In the spring, Richard Blanco, inaugural poet for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, most notably taught a course titled, “Teach This Poem,” in which Colby students learned to become poetry ambassadors for local school children. In tandem with teaching Colby students, Blanco also held poetry workshops for area schoolteachers.
“This grant will enhance all of our work, from our cross-disciplinary collaborations to our scholarly symposiums to our community projects.”
— Lee Glazer, Founding Director of the Lunder Institute
In order to fully execute and achieve its goals and initiatives, the institute recently named four outstanding scholars and individuals to its key leadership positions. Lee Glazer, current curator of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, will usher-in the institute by serving as its founding director. Glazer, whose expertise includes the art of James McNeill Whistler and Romare Bearden, will arrive to Mayflower Hill in September.
“The Mellon Foundation grant signals the importance of arts programming and will support the work of the institute’s creative and intellectual individuals,” said Glazer. “This grant will enhance all of our work, from our cross-disciplinary collaborations to our scholarly symposiums to our community projects.”
Alongside Glazer, Gates will serve as the Lunder Institute’s first distinguished visiting artist and director of artist initiatives. Tanya Sheehan, Colby’s William R. Kenan Jr. Associate Professor of Art and Art Department Chair, will serve as the distinguished scholar and director of research. Most recently, Daisy Desrosiers, an arts leader from Montréal, has been brought in to serve as the Lunder Institute’s program director.
To advance critical and creative research in American art and related fields, the Lunder Institute will host a residential program for scholars and artists on campus and downtown Waterville, Maine, with access to Allen Island, a 450-acre island off the coast of Maine owned by Up East Incorporated, a Wyeth family foundation that has established a partnership with Colby. Summer and academic-year residencies ranging from several days to a year will enable graduate students, scholars, curators, and emerging and internationally renowned artists to develop new site-specific works on campus and in the community. These resident fellows will be integral to the intellectual and creative life of the College and the Museum, working directly with faculty, students, and community members and inspiring a dialogue between art creation and scholarship. In collaboration with the Colby Museum, the Institute’s activities also will include an exhibition program, a robust publication and digital program, and the organization of major multidisciplinary symposia.