The theme of travel runs throughout the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, a Cuban–born, American artist who immigrated, via Puerto Rico, to the United States in 1979. In conjunction with Colby College’s 2014–15 Humanities Theme of “Migrations,” the Colby Museum is presenting two of Gonzalez-Torres’s stack pieces, works composed of printed sheets of paper that visitors may keep, display, or give to others. In the two-part piece “Untitled”, 1989/1990, one stack of papers features the sentence “Somewhere better than this place.”, while the other reads, “Nowhere better than this place.” In “Untitled” 1992/1993, the sheets of paper are printed with a black-and-white image of a bird in the sky based on a photograph by the artist. Public programs associated with the presentation of these works will include a Noontime Art Talk.More »
Terry Winters made his first print in 1982 and, to date, he has created more than 110 editions, including numerous multi-sheet portfolios, working with innovative fine art presses internationally. This exhibition considers Winters’s use of the printed image as a resource for experimentation, invention, and collaboration. He views prints as equal to paintings and drawings and avoids applying a hierarchy to his various modes of working. Yet the print medium is nonetheless of special significance to an artist who has long looked to the universe of printed matter for inspiration and who consistently applies ideas generated through the printmaking process to his practice as a whole. With an emphasis on recent editions, the exhibition includes the print portfolio In Blue and a closely related painting of the same title, marking the first time that they have been exhibited together. Also featured are Winters’s most recent editions, Clocks and Clouds and Atmospheres, as well as his Notebook collages, hybrid works that combine found imagery and drawing in ways that resonate with the layered compositions of his prints.
A concurrent exhibition, Listen to this page. Works by Bern Porter from Colby College Special Collections, is drawn from the Special Collections at Colby College and is inspired by Winters’s interest in Porter’s visionary “founds,” artworks and poems gleaned from newspaper circulars, mailers, and advertisements.
Terry Winters: Printed Matters is organized in conjunction with Terry Winters Prints: 1999–2014, an exhibition at the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München to which the Colby Museum is the primary lender. A related catalogue, which includes complete descriptions of Winters’s editions since 1999, is available through Prestel. In 2002, the Colby Museum became a repository for Winters’s complete printed works. View additional information on this collection.More »
A Colby College alumnus and Maine native, Bern Porter (1911–2004) began his career as a scientific researcher, but his most enduring source of creative inspiration was American mass culture after World War II. Trained in physics, Porter worked on the development of the cathode-ray tube and subsequently joined the Manhattan Project, the American research team charged with assembling the first atomic bomb. Disillusioned by the great destruction wrought by this unleashed force and motivated to make art out of the printed matter (newspaper circulars, magazine advertisements, and sweepstakes mailers) that arrived in his mailbox, or that he discovered in trashcans, Porter walked away from applied science to dedicate his life to the creation of “founds,” visual poems constructed out of cut, pasted, and torn papers. One of these works displays the appropriated phrase “Listen to this page,” capturing Porter’s indefatigable ability to ascertain the marvelous in the mundane.
Organized in conjunction with the exhibition Terry Winters: Printed Matters, Listen to this page. Works by Bern Porter from Colby College Special Collections includes a selection of the original collages that the artist published in the irreverent compilations The Book of Do’s and Here Come’s Everybody’s Don’t Book. It also features several of Porter’s uniquely prescient artist’s books, one of which, 468B (1966), consists of bound computer printouts of codes that he provocatively suggested could be deciphered for their “psycho-visual” potential. Porter composed two other books, both dated 1961 and titled Aphasia (or the loss of ability to understand or express speech), from bound newsprint whose textual and visual densities presaged the content overload that is now commonly associated with Internet culture. The artist’s book Scandinavian Summer and a travel scrapbook represent Porter’s lifelong fascination with international travel, much of it aboard cruise ships. Additional publications and a selection of the artist’s writings are also available for visitors to peruse.
Initiated following Winters’s inclusion of Porter’s work in the group exhibition Roving Signs in 2013, Listen to this page highlights the extensive holdings of Porter’s papers and related works by the Special Collections at Colby College. For information on this collection, go to The Bern Porter Collection of Contemporary Letters, housed in Colby’s Special Collections. Other collections of Porter materials can be found at Bowdoin College, The Museum of Modern Art, and UCLA. In addition, Mark Melnicove, poet, writer, and literary executor of the Porter Estate, maintains a comprehensive and evolving website dedicated to Porter’s life, art, and collaborations. Special events organized in conjunction with the exhibition include a noontime talk on March 31, a found poetry workshop on March 14, and a Community Day celebration on April 11.More »
The Colby Museum celebrates Black History Month by spotlighting a different work of art each week by African American artists in its collection: Joseph Norman (week one and two), followed by a single work each by Kara Walker (week three) and David C. Driskell (week four). Selected in collaboration with the Pugh Center, Students Organized for Black and Hispanic Unity, and the African-American Studies Program, these works of art offer visitors an opportunity to reflect on current and historical representations of race in the United States.More »
For some time now artist Elizabeth Atterbury has been testing the authority and autonomy of the photographic image; she exploits its twin capacities for frankness and withholding. Indeed, many of her recent photographic prints could not be more explicitly incoherent. How far can one peel representation away from the thing it depicts without detaching it altogether? Frequently drawn to pliable but precarious materials such as paper and sand, Atterbury constructs ephemeral tableaus specifically for the purpose of recording and, in so doing, transfiguring them. For the seventh installment of the Museum’s currents series, this Portland-based artist extends her analysis of the photogenic properties of objects in new two- and three-dimensional work, creating a site-specific installation. If Atterbury’s photographs pose questions about the limits of pictorial literacy, her objects further fray distinctions between artifact, prop, model, and sculpture. Within the museum setting, these indistinctions antagonize traditional habits of museological display, documentation, and reproduction. Elizabeth Atterbury has participated in group exhibitions at Heaven Gallery in Chicago, and KANSAS and Bodega in New York. She has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at Document in Chicago, and kijidome in Boston. In the Middle, An Oasis, a monograph of her work, was published by Bodega Press in 2013. Atterbury holds a BA from Hampshire College and an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She lives and works in Portland, ME. This exhibition is part of The Maine Photo Project.More »
Known for his monumental wall reliefs and sculptures of animals from the 1970s, Maine-born artist Bernard Langlais (1921–1977) produced a rich and diverse oeuvre in his 56 years. From modernist painter to visionary environment builder, Langlais created art driven by a deep sense of place, and an unrelenting search for materials and subjects that reconciled his rural roots with postwar artistic movements and ideologies. In celebration of an extraordinary bequest by the artist’s widow, Helen Friend Langlais, of her estate to Colby College in 2010, the Colby College Museum of Art will present the first scholarly retrospective of Langlais’s dynamic career. The exhibition is drawn primarily from the Museum’s Bernard Langlais Collection and also presents loans from several local museums and private collections, a testament to Maine’s deep holdings in the art of this native son.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated monograph with essays by Hannah W. Blunt, Diana Tuite, Vincent Katz, and Leslie Umberger.More »
This installation features a rotating selection of artwork by Alex Katz (b. 1927). Among the most recent acquisitions on view is a double aluminum cutout entitled Juan and Choichun from 2013. Also displayed is an array of portraits that Katz produced in the 1950s depicting fellow artist Bernard Langlais, the subject of the adjacent retrospective.