ARTS AND HUMANITIES
Colby’s continued support of the arts and humanities has given students, faculty, and the greater Waterville community access to world-class resources in the arts.
Founded in 2017, Colby’s Lunder Institute for American Art has positioned itself as a leader in American art scholarship and has distinguished the Colby College Museum of Art as one of the finest college art museums in the country. Colby’s Center for the Arts and Humanities, founded in 2012 thanks to a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, “celebrates the pivotal role of the arts and humanities in the intellectual life of the College and the community, and it promotes the long-term benefits of the skills developed through humanistic research.”
RESEARCH AND DISCOVERY
LEARNING CHINESE THROUGH ART: EAST ASIAN STUDIES STARTALK GRANTS
Kim Besio, Ziskind Professor of East Asian Studies, and Andie Wang, assistant professor of East Asian Studies, with Ankeney Weitz, the Ellerton M. and Edith K. Jetté Professor of Art, as consultant, received a STARTALK grant of $102K from the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland.
The grant, titled “Learning Chinese through Art,” allows Professors Besio and Wang to offer a two-week teacher preparation program and a three-week Chinese language camp for local third and fourth graders in June and July. Originally offered in 2018, and renewed for 2020, which has since been pushed until next summer due to the Covid-19 outbreak, this program aims to promote Chinese language learning and teaching in the local Central Maine community. With a focus on Chinese art, the program offers a 2-week long residential, culture-rich, content-based pedagogical training for preservice/inservice teachers of Chinese and a 3-week long beginning-level Chinese summer camp to students from ages 10-12.
During the first two weeks, the teacher participants learn the basics of teaching Chinese as second language through hands-on experiences and are guided to create lesson plans for the Chinese summer camp using the Backward Design and Content-Based Instruction approach. During the Chinese language camp of the third to the fifth weeks of the combination program, the teacher participants implement their lesson plans and the student participants learn basic Chinese through an art-based, culture-rich experience.
The teacher participants receive a certificate at the end of the 168 hour training whereas the student participants gain an opportunity to develop their interests in and awareness of as well as an initial understanding of the Chinese language, art, and culture, and learn to use basic Chinese to communicate about their personal information, preferences, and art-related daily activities.
The Digital Maine Project at Colby uses traditional liberal arts approaches to historical, ethical, material, and visual analysis to explore key developments in the recent history of Maine, as well as trends that reflect larger changes in American culture from the 1960s to today.
Recent projects include “Mapping Waterville,” “Allen Island: Tracing the Midcoast, and “Franco Memory through Song.” Descriptions of these projects can be found by visiting the Digital Maine Project’s website.
NEW MUSEUM CULTURE IN CHINA
I write to inform you that the ASIANetwork Freeman Student-Faculty Fellows Program (SFF) Selection Committee met this past week and has now concluded its review of this year’s large pool of applications. It is my pleasure to inform you that your proposal has been selected as one of nine recipients of a SFF Award. Congratulations!
— ASIANetwork Award Letter Excerpt
Ankeney Weitz, Ellerton M. and Edith K. Jetté Professor of Art, and Mariola Alvarez, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art, led a Colby team of five students to Beijing, China where they volunteered at the Inside Out Museum of Art and conducted research on the New Museum Culture in China through visits to museums, galleries, auction houses, artists’ studios, and collectors homes. The team’s findings were communicated through a daily blog during the time in Asia, and they are creating a website to disseminate their findings.
The project’s objective was to study the growth of “cultural industries” in China through examining the role museums, especially contemporary art museums, play in society and politics. The team spent three weeks in Beijing, with each morning dedicated to working at the Inside Out Museum of Art in Beijing, and each afternoon given to trips to other museums and galleries, artists’ studios, collectors’ homes, auction houses, or arts districts. A three-day “field trip” to Shanghai was taken to collect comparative information about the city’s art museum scene. Although all of their activities were conducted as a group, each student fellow selected a topic of focus for his or her research: governmental and legal regulation in the museum sector; museum education and audience reception; advertising and public relations for museums and artists; museum architecture, including a consideration of geographic location, as well as the phenomenological experience of space; presentation of non-Chinese art in Beijing museums; and art markets and public/private art collecting in relation to museums. During their time in the PRC, daily blogs described activities, with a rotating schedule for posts; a website will be transformed into a more formal platform for the communication findings, with student essays and photographs.
THE ART OF ZAO WOU-KI
The Colby College Museum of Art, in partnership with Asia Society Museum, is organizing the first American retrospective exhibition of Zao Wou-Ki (1920-2013), a major figure in mid-twentieth century abstract art. The exhibition, No Limits: The Art of Zao Wou-Ki, will examine the career of this Chinese-born French artist and offer a nuanced perspective of international art movements of the last century. Zao Wou-Ki was one of the first superstar artists of the Chinese diaspora, prefiguring contemporary artists like Ai Weiwei, Cai Guoqiang, and Xu Bing. In 1948, he immigrated to Paris from Shanghai and soon took the international art world by storm. Championed by French literati and artists, Zao was a major presence in European art of the second half of the twentieth century. American museums and private buyers also avidly collected his paintings in the 1950s and 1960s and, after the mid-1970s, Zao became increasingly recognized in Asia as the leading master of modern Chinese oil paintings.
PARTNERSHIPS AND PROGRAMS
CENTER FOR THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES
We aim to make the Humanities the conceptual and physical crossroads of the campus, where students and faculty meet to research, study, and debate topics of shared concern and to create a vibrant culture of creative and innovative work in the various fields that comprise the Arts and Humanities.
—William D. Adams, President of Colby College (2000-2014)
The Center, established through an extraordinary grant in 2012 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, celebrates the pivotal role of the arts and humanities in the intellectual life of the College and the community, and it promotes the long-term benefits of the skills developed through humanistic research.
Each year, the Center hosts an annual theme with accompanying guest lectures, courses, humanities labs, and events. The 2017 Center for the Arts and Humanities theme, Origins, took an interdisciplinary look into where we come from and where our world is going. On April 3, 2018, Colby welcomed Dr. Cornel West to campus as the Center’s keynote speaker.
The humanities will play an even larger role in Colby’s expanding cross-campus and multi-disciplinary approach to the study of the environment.
A grant award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has launched an environmental humanities initiative building on current and existing strengths, particularly with the College’s Environmental Studies Program, and establishing an innovative new research and teaching focus at Colby.
This new focus will bring artistic, cultural, ethical, historical, and literary perspectives to environmental topics and will enhance opportunities for faculty collaboration across disciplines and departments, linking courses and scholarship while supporting new curricular connections across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.
LUNDER INSTITUTE FOR AMERICAN ART
We are pleased to share with you the wonderful news of a gift to the Colby College Museum of Art from Peter and Paula Lunder, preeminent collectors of American Art and longtime Colby benefactors.
During a meeting of the Colby Trustees in Boston on February 2, 2017, Colby announced that it has received another gift of more than $100 million from Peter and Paula Lunder. This donation will add nearly 1,150 artworks to the Museum’s collection and will launch the Lunder Institute for American Art, establishing Colby as the only liberal arts college with a world-class art museum and a global research center on American Art. The Lunder Institute will be dedicated to the practice, study, and exhibition of American art, and will transform Colby’s art collection and scholarly activities by bringing together artists, curators, scholars, and students through cross-disciplinary engagement.
This unique group of paintings, sculptures, photography, and works on paper, date from a 1501 engraving by Albrecht Dürer to a 2014 aquatint by Julie Mehretu, and represents more than 150 artists, including: Mary Cassatt, Jasper Johns, Nina Katchadourian, Jacob Lawrence, Maya Lin, Joan Mitchell, Claes Oldenburg, Betye Saar, Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt van Rijn, Ai Weiwei, Fred Wilson, and James McNeill Whistler.
These works will have a major impact on the Museum’s acclaimed collection, which previously contained approximately 8,000 works, and will also serve the teaching mission of the Museum and the College by deeply integrating into the curriculum and becoming a vibrant part of college life.
We hope you make plans to visit the Museum and the new Lunder Institute for American Art, and we look forward to working with you as we continue to invest in the arts at Colby and build an exciting destination for artist, scholars, curators, and visitors.
Carolyn Muzzy Director of the Colby College Museum of Art and Chief Curator
Director of the Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs at Colby College
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.