The phrase “the sea in a jug” (بحر در کوزه, bahr dar koozeh) appears in the first book of the Masnavi, the great multivolume work of the Persian poet, mystic, and theologian Rumi (1207–1275). The meaning of this saying has been debated for centuries. In the context of this exhibition of art from the Islamic world, it is intended to represent the idea that a subset of things—in this case a group of artworks—can contribute to our understanding of a much larger cultural field. The paintings, drawings, sculptures, and ornamental objects included here date from the thirteenth to the twentieth century and were made in Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and India. Offered on loan to this program are works acquired by the American curator, scholar, and collector Stuart Cary Welch; additional loans have been generously provided by the Harvard Art Museums, where Welch worked for more than four decades.More »
Here’s the Thing is the most comprehensive exhibition to date of work by the artist Hew Locke. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1959, but raised in Guyana—a British colony until 1970—Locke often sailed between the UK and South America during his childhood. Across a wide range of media, he considers the maritime vectors of mercantilism, colonialism, post-colonialism, migration, and diaspora. Within his nautical imaginary, Locke reconfigures iconographies of nationhood, and in particular, the military. By his own account, he is “making global links between people on the sea,” and his artwork is as historically freighted as it is contemporaneously charged.More »
The artist Jennifer Steinkamp (born 1958) makes digital artworks, often working on a larger-than-life scale. Engineered to mesmerize and delight, her animations and images have appeared on building exteriors and billboards and in museum galleries and parks, among other sites.
Steinkamp has made more than two dozen animated trees dedicated to a few teachers she especially admires. Trees represent strength, shelter, and fruitfulness; deciduous species, or trees that shed their leaves, manifest the changing seasons and, by extension, the cycle of life. This particular digital animation honors Judy Crook, who taught Steinkamp color theory in art school.More »
Harmon and Harriet Kelley are San Antonio, Texas-based collectors of African American art. Over the last thirty years, the Kelleys have assembled one of the most comprehensive holdings of works by African American artists from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Loans from their collection are frequently exhibited in museums throughout the country. The Colby Museum is honored to have twelve works from the Kelley Collection on display in our galleries.
A collection guide listing the works and their locations is available at the Museum welcome desk. Each piece can be distinguished by this insignia on the label:
Using the SEED-O-MATIC is straightforward: all you need is 60 cents for seeds, 50 cents for soil, and a makeshift planter. Once you’ve planted one of the five seed varieties available in this analog vending machine, leave it on your windowsill and water it according to the instructions on the envelope. In two or three months, your greens will be ready to eat. As simple as it is to operate, SEED-O-MATIC provides a point of entry into complex issues of food justice. The work was designed in 2013 by artists Emma Dorothy Conley and Halley Roberts in concert with the Center for Genomic Gastronomy (CGG), an artist-led organization working internationally to “imagine a more just, biodiverse, and beautiful food system.” Brought to campus and sighted in Cotter Union by the Colby Museum, the machine will be at Colby through May 2020.More »
The artist James McNeill Whistler closely observed the commercial activity of the River Thames, and his depictions of the waterway reveal an economic network that intertwined empire, industry, and environment. River Works examines this network and places Whistler’s art within the industrial-imperial system of the nineteenth century—a system whose legacies continue to inform our world today.More »
While he was a student at the Cooper Union, Alex Katz enrolled in a class on illustration. The artist had first read Herman Melville’s 1851 novel Moby-Dick around the age of 13, and he found himself returning to the text in connection with assignments for this course.More »