Student Research Assistant Roundtable

Colby students who served as research assistants for the Lunder Institute for American Art in 2019–20 share their experiences working for the Institute’s inaugural cohort of Research Fellows.

Jessamine Batario, Lunder Institute Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow for Artistic and Scholarly Engagement and Programs, moderates the discussion with Carter Wynne ’20, Katie Herzig ’20, Jane MacKerron ’20, and Olivia Hochstadt ’21.

The Lunder Institute launched its Research Fellows Program in September 2019. The program appoints a Distinguished Scholar and supports a group of fellows at varying stages of their careers to pursue original scholarship around a theme or topic of particular concern to the field of American art. A signature feature of the program is that each Research Fellow incorporates an artwork at the Colby Museum into their current research.

Led by Tanya Sheehan, the inaugural 2019–20 Research Fellows program focuses on Art by African Americans, including work on loan from the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection.

Interview: Emmanuel Sogunle ’21 Reflects on His Work with the Maine Makers’ Map

Emmanuel Sogunle ’21 was one of two Colby students to assist Lunder Institute Director of Artist Programs Daisy Desrosiers in the creation of the Maine Makers’ Map, an interactive tool to facilitate networking between visiting artists and highly skilled craftspeople in Maine. In this interview, he reflects on his experience.

Q: How would you describe the Makers’ Map and its impact on your understanding of artmaking and collaboration?

A: The Makers’ Map project is an interactive map of highly skilled material experts in Maine. The map highlights woodworkers, metalworkers, builders, and production studios, among other things of that sort. The purpose of the map is to showcase how much talent is just floating around in Maine and bring to light the rich knowledge these craftspeople possess. By publicly featuring this collection of expert makers, the map aims to connect Maine’s community of skilled craftspeople with Lunder Institute visiting artists and other artists in Maine. This map serves as a resource enabling artists to join forces and offer their expertise to one another with the purpose of creating something amazing.

 

Q: What has been most interesting to you in your work at the Lunder Institute?

A: I really enjoyed getting to learn more about how the makers fell in love with their craft and became experts. It was exciting to hear about the wide-ranging backgrounds of the people I worked with. Some work in the studio full-time and have spent their lives honing skills that have been passed down for generations. At the other end of the spectrum, I got to speak with a man who works part-time as an OBGYN and specializes in glassblowing in his free time. Everyone I spoke with was really passionate, and that was something I was glad to have witnessed.

 

Q: What can you share about the process of pulling together this resource? 

A: The biggest aspect of putting this project together was finding craftspeople to join. Most of my work consisted of talking with them to explain the goals and intent of the project in the hopes that they would be excited about the map. Often the makers I talked to recommended other craftspeople they are friends with or had worked with, and I reached out to them and invited them to join as well. I also organized all of the information for the artists/studios and uploaded it onto the mapping software.

 

Q: What was/is important, for you, in shaping this project and the work that you have done the makers’ map?

A: For me, it was important to depict the talent of Maine craftspeople. This map highlights that. There is so much talent here in Maine but sometimes finding it isn’t easy. I was pleased to contribute to making the search for expert material workers more accessible, not only for visiting artists, but also for the local community of craftspeople.

 

Q: Were there any moments along the way that were especially illuminating or rewarding for you?

A: One especially rewarding moment for me was getting to go out and visit one of the studios on the map, Hallowell Clay Works with Daisy Desrosiers, LIAA Director of artist programs, who spearheaded this whole initiative, and a few Colby students. It was nice to meet the founder of the studio and to talk with other potters, learn more about their backgrounds and how they got interested in clay.

 

Q: What surprised you as you became acquainted with the variety of makers that work here in Maine?

A: The sheer number of craftspeople in Maine surprised me. There is such a vast network of amazing artists in Maine that specialize in so many different dimensions. It was also interesting to see how certain material categories, such as clay, have such a strong network of artists that seem to truly support one another.

 

Q: Was there a particular maker you were excited to meet or a practice you wanted to understand better? If so, why?

A: I have always found glassblowing super cool and really enjoy watching the process, and I would be excited to learn how to do it for myself. Glass and glassblowing originated in Venice, and during my Jan Plan trip to Italy, I had the opportunity to explore local shops and see Murano glass made from techniques passed down for generations. So, getting to learn more about this field and trying it out for myself is definitely a goal of mine. David Jacobson, who I got to connect with while working on this project, has actually trained for over 26 years in the Venetian Style of glassblowing, so he is a maker I would love to meet and learn more about.

 

Q: In what ways do you think this experience has prepared you for the world of work beyond Colby

A: This experience has given me so many skills that I will carry beyond Colby. I spent many hours researching artists, compiling their information, reaching out to them, and then coherently organizing all of their information. All these things helped me to acquire skills that I know will be useful to me when I graduate from Colby. I also had the opportunity to speak with people from various backgrounds and expand my interests, network, and pool of resources.

 

Q: Any additional thoughts?

A: I am truly proud of the Maine Makers’ Map project and I hope it helps to foster creative invention, collaboration, and community building.

Research Symposium: Art by African Americans

On Friday, March 13, 2020, the Lunder Institute for American Art hosted a research symposium on art by African Americans. This live-streamed, daylong event featured work-in-progress presentations by the six 2019-2020 Lunder Institute Research Fellows, discussions moderated by Distinguished Scholar Tanya Sheehan, and a roundtable with leading scholars focused on questions about the state of the field.

The archived symposium proceedings are dedicated to the memory of David C. Driskell (1931–2020) in recognition of his groundbreaking scholarship in the field of American art and his extraordinary contributions as a teacher, curator, and artist.

You can download the digital event program, including abstracts and presenter bios here.

Morning Program:

Welcome, Lee Glazer, Director, Lunder Institute

Introduction, Tanya Sheehan, Distinguished Scholar and Director of Research, Lunder Institute

Research presentations

  • Norman Lewis, 1946: Heliotrope – John Ott, James Madison University
  • Turbulent States: Strategies of Crisis Mediation in David Driskell’s 1968 Of Thee I Weep and Soul X – Rebecca VanDiver, Vanderbilt University

Roundtable: State of the Field
Moderated by Adrienne L. Childs, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University

  • Tuliza Fleming, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution
  • Jacqueline Francis, California College of the Arts
  • Melanee C. Harvey, Howard University
  • James Smalls, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Afternoon program: 

Research presentations

  • Local and Littoral: Reflecting on the Landscapes of Edward Mitchell Bannister – Anna Arabindan-Kesson, Princeton University
  • Bob Thompson, Goya, and the Caprice of Art History – Adrienne L. Childs, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University
  • Sculpture’s Touch: Haptic Intimacies in Marion Perkins’s Mother and Child – Tess Korobkin, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Perceptual Drift: Hank Willis Thomas’s Blow the Man Down and Romare Bearden’s Cotton – Key Jo Lee, Cleveland Museum of Art

Homepage art: David Clyde Driskell, Of Thee I Weep, 1968. Acrylic and collage on fiberboard, 12 x 11 3/4 in. (30 x 30 cm). Colby College Museum of Art purchase from the Jere Abbott Acquisitions Fund. Accession Number: 2018.012.

Jessamine Batario: The New Social Environment

In response to the imminent crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Brooklyn Rail shifted its operations online. These daily Social Environment lunchtime conversations provide a place to have vibrant conversations in a time of great social distancing.

Here Phong H. Bui hosts art historian and March Guest Critic Jessamine Batario, Lunder Institute Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow for Artistic and Scholarly Engagement and Programs, for a conversation on the social, philosophical, and performative resonances of walking.

Jessamine guest edited a section in the magazine’s March issue with contributions by Colby faculty members AB Brown, assistant professor of contemporary performance, and Arisa White, assistant professor of English.

Colby to Create New Arts Collaborative in Downtown Waterville

Major Gift Will Turn Buildings into a One-of-a-Kind Space for Central Maine

Building on Waterville’s momentum as a dynamic arts and cultural destination, Colby College today announced that it has received a $3-million gift from Peter H. Lunder ’56, D.F.A. ’98 and Life Trustee Paula Crane Lunder, D.F.A. ’98 through the Lunder Foundation to develop an arts collaborative on Main Street. The new space, which is expected to open at the end of the year, will include a renovation and consolidation of the existing 14 and 20 Main Street buildings—located at the southern end of the street—and play an important role in the overarching plan to leverage the arts to help drive the resurgence of downtown Waterville.

The arts collaborative will benefit Colby students and faculty as well as the broader community by providing vibrant arts programming and artist studios. With a ground floor area for community performances and cultural activity (art exhibitions, poetry readings, musical performances, etc.), this project will enhance Waterville’s identity as a center for the performing and visual arts.

The building will provide a dedicated space for Lunder Institute for American Art staff, affiliated scholars, and artist residents to advance creative expression, develop new scholarship, and contribute to the exciting activity in downtown Waterville. Moreover, the arts collaborative will solidify the convening power of the Lunder Institute to attract artists and scholars from around the world to engage in cross-disciplinary dialogues and to stimulate the production of original art and new collaborations.

This rendering shows how 14 and 20 Main Street will be converted into a new arts collaborative, with the first floor open for exhibitions, performances, and events and the upper floors housing artist studios and the Lunder Institute.

“It is hard not to think of the arts first when we think of Peter and Paula Lunder,” said Colby College President David A. Greene. “But as much as the Lunders value the arts, they are truly remarkable for always considering the needs of others first. This gift is another example of their generosity and selflessness, their desire to strengthen this community and improve the lives of all who call central Maine home. The arts enrich us by punctuating our daily routines with moments of brilliance and beauty. They challenge us and reveal the complexities of the human condition and our capacity for creativity. And they inspire us. I could certainly say the same of the Lunders, who bring beauty into our lives and inspire us to find our very best selves.”

Formerly of Waterville, philanthropists Peter and Paula Lunder are dedicated to transforming lives and communities through art, including at Colby. In 1995 the Lunders pledged the lead gift to build the Lunder Wing at the Colby College Museum of Art, and in 2007 promised their collection of more than 500 works of art to the College, establishing the Lunder Collection. In 2017 they also gifted an additional 1,150 artworks and endowed funds to establish the Lunder Institute for American Art.

A Growing Arts Ecosystem

The arts collaborative adds to a rich and integrated set of art and cultural institutions throughout Waterville, including the Colby College Museum of Art, the Lunder Institute for American Art, the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts, and the Paul J. Schupf Art Center. With its artist residency programs and dynamic exhibition and performance space, the arts collaborative will bring new activity and vibrancy to downtown Waterville and continue to grow Waterville’s position as a major center for the arts and culture. Together with the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, which is slated to open in late 2021, Main Street will feature a diverse set of arts programming that will enrich life in Waterville, provide new opportunities for creative expression for students and community members alike, and help to drive economic activity throughout the city.

“The arts collaborative that is planned for Main Street in Waterville is meaningful to our family,” said Peter and Paula Lunder. “It brings together those elements that we believe in—creating art and sharing it with the people we admire and the community we enjoyed being a part of for so many years.”

With the addition of the Lockwood Hotel, visitors to Waterville who are drawn here for business, recreation, or the arts will have a new occasion to stay downtown and enjoy the shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions as part of their visit. The Lockwood Hotel will also feature art by Maine-based artists, including works by Bernard Langlais and Tanja Hollander.

One-of-a-Kind Space for Central Maine

By combining the first floor of 14 and 20 Main Street, the new arts collaborative will provide a fluid and flexible creative space, including moveable walls, seats, and risers, for the broad community to engage with art. The exterior façade will include large windows to allow for ample light and engagement off Main Street.

The second and third floors of the arts collaborative will house flexible artist studio and maker spaces, which are being designed to support both established and emerging artists. In the near term, the fourth floor will house Lunder Institute staff and affiliates and serve as a central convening location for scholars and researchers.

“Having many artists under one roof will enable Colby to support creative production among a much broader community,” commented David C. Driskell, D.F.A. ’00, renowned American artist and historian whose important work is included in the Colby Museum of Art. “This innovative space will allow Colby students, faculty, and local artists to work side by side with Lunder Institute artists in residence—a mutually enriching experience for all.” 

Through the new arts collaborative, Colby also intends to forge a partnership with the Maine College of Art (MECA) to support students and recent MECA graduates, including MECA Lunder Scholars. This partnership is aimed at providing artists in residence with opportunities in Waterville’s arts ecosystem.

Open Call for Fellowship Applications: 2020-2021 Research Fellows Program

Lunder Institute for American Art Research Fellows Program, 2020-21

Call for Fellowship Applications

Ramona Sanchez Gonzales (aka Ramona Gonzales), San Ildefonso Plate, c.1925. Blackware, 11 3/4 in. (30 cm). Gift of Adelaide Pearson. Colby College Museum of Art Accession Number: 1960.145.

The Lunder Institute for American Art seeks to appoint in 2020-21 a group of Research Fellows to pursue original scholarship on artistic modernisms of the Southwest, a region with unstable and contested boundaries shaped by sovereign Indigenous communities, settler colonialism, and ecological flux. Motivating this focus are the Colby College Museum of Art’s collection of work by the Taos Society of Artists, the Museum’s recent collaborations with Indigenous artists, and an exhibition planned for 2022 that will put Native and non-Native art into conversation.

Research Fellows will attend two meetings: September 23-26, 2020, at Colby College in Waterville, Maine; and January 20-23, 2021, in Taos, New Mexico. Jessica L. Horton (Associate Professor of Art History, University of Delaware), 2020-21 Lunder Institute Distinguished Scholar, will lead the Research Fellows in their critical reflections on art in the context of the westward expansion of the United States, a vast and unfinished project centered on the appropriation of Indigenous homelands, assimilation of Native bodies, and establishment of industries dedicated to art, tourism, and resource extraction. The group will be joined by guest speakers at each site, including Dr. Cynthia Chavez Lamar (Assistant Director for Collections, National Museum of the American Indian). They will convene in Taos at the Couse-Sharp Historic Site. Among the questions the Research Fellows will explore through the Colby Museum’s collections and their ongoing research are: How have the social and environmental upheavals of western expansion been registered—or suppressed—in artistic modernisms by makers of diverse heritages? How might our analyses of historical materials be read through the lens of Indigenous and environmental justice? What methodological tools are most needed today to address the legacies of colonialism and its contestation in Southwest modernisms and American art history more broadly?

Research Fellows may be academics with a PhD (conferred by August 1, 2020) or museum professionals at any stage of their career. For participating in two meetings, incorporating an object at the Colby Museum into their ongoing research, and writing a short summary of their engagement with that object, they will receive a $4000 stipend. Round-trip travel to Maine and New Mexico will be covered. Research Fellows are also supported by Colby undergraduate research assistants and will have an opportunity to contribute to the Colby Museum’s 2022 exhibition and/or catalogue.

Fellowship applications should be emailed as a single PDF by February 28, 2020 to Tanya Sheehan, Lunder Institute Director of Research, at tanya.sheehan@colby.edu. Please include (in this order):

  • Cover letter detailing your professional engagement with the subject of Southwest modernism and current interests in the questions outlined above
  • One-page proposal identifying 1-2 artworks at the Colby Museum and describing how you would place them into conversation with your ongoing research and the field of American art history
  • Current CV

Appointments will be announced by April 1, 2020.

Click here to explore the Colby Museum’s collection.

Homepage art: Victor Higgins, Taos, c. 1914-1915. Oil on canvas, 27 in. x 30 in. (68.58 cm x 76.2 cm). The Lunder Collection. Colby College Museum of Art Accession Number: 2013.139P.

Lunder Consortium for Whistler Studies Celebrates 10th Anniversary … and Looks to the Future

James McNeill Whistler, The Shop-An Exterior, c. 1883-1885. Watercolor on paper, 7 3/4 x 11 1/4 in. (19.7 x 28.6 cm).
The Lunder Collection. Accession Number: 2013.307.

Since its founding in 2010, the Lunder Consortium for Whistler Studies—comprising the Art Institute of Chicago, the Colby Museum, the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and the University of Glasgow—has made a major impact on the study of James McNeill Whistler and his international circles through publications, symposia, exhibitions, digital resources, and professional development opportunities for students. The sustained productivity of the Consortium has broadened the scope of Whistler scholarship beyond the monographic, ensuring the continued relevance of an transatlantic artist who plays a significant role in the collections and institutional identities of each of the Consortium partners.

The launch of the Lunder Institute for American Art has afforded us an important opportunity to expand the impact of the Consortium. By leveraging the convening power of the Lunder Institute, along with its commitment to innovative scholarship and pedagogy, the Consortium, with the generous support of a five-year gift from the Lunder Foundation, will build on past successes and secure its legacy as an international leader in the study of Whistler and American art of the late nineteenth century.

The Lunder Institute and our Consortium partners will focus on five key programmatic areas over the next five year: paid summer internships for Colby students at the Art Institute and the Freer|Sackler; international symposia at Glasgow in 2020 and Chicago in 2021; original collections-based research and stewardship; a post-doctoral fellowship in technical art history at Glasgow and Colby; and innovative exhibitions at all Consortium-member institutions, including a multi-venue loan exhibition and accompanying publication focused on Whistler’s shopfronts and urban transformation that will open at Colby 2023.

Homepage image: James McNeill Whistler, The Shop-An Exterior, c. 1883-1885. Watercolor on paper, 7 3/4 x 11 1/4 in. (19.7 x 28.6 cm). The Lunder Collection. Accession Number: 2013.307.

Register Now for the Lunder Institute Research Symposium on Art by African Americans

Register Now!

David C. Driskell Center’s Living Legacy National Speaking Tour:
David C. Driskell and Curlee R. Holton in Conversation, March 12, 2020, 5:30pm 

 

Lunder Institute Research Symposium:
Art by African Americans, March 13, 2020, 9:30am to 5:00pm

 


Organized by the Lunder Institute for American Art and Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine. Free and open to the public, but registration is required. 

On the evening of Thursday, March 12, the Lunder Institute and the Colby Museum will host a conversation between renowned artist and art historian David C. Driskell and Curlee R. Holton, Director of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park. Professor Driskell’s artistic practice, groundbreaking scholarship, and lifetime of experience make him a national treasure.

On Friday, March 13, the Lunder Institute is pleased to host presentations by its inaugural Research Fellows and invited speakers. Fellows will share their research on selected artworks at the Colby Museum, including works on loan from the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection, connecting them to important questions in the field regarding African American artists. A roundtable featuring leading academics and curators will comment on the current state and parameters of African American art history and reflect on how and why art by African Americans has been distinguished from the broader field of American art.

Image of Inaugural Lunder Research Fellows

Inaugural LIAA Research Fellows, clockwise from top left: Key Jo Lee, Tess Korobkin, Anna Arabindan-Kesson, Adrienne L. Childs, Rebecca VanDiver, and John Ott.

These events are cosponsored by the Department of Art, American Studies Program, and African-American Studies Program at Colby College. 

Click here to register and view the full schedule of presentations. 

Featured image: David Clyde Driskell, Of Thee I Weep, 1968. Acrylic and collage on fiberboard, 12 x 11 3/4 in. (30 x 30 cm). Colby College Museum of Art purchase from the Jere Abbott Acquisitions Fund. Accession Number: 2018.012.

 

 

Daniel Minter announced as Visiting Artist in Spring 2020

Artist Daniel Minter

The Lunder Institute for American Art is pleased to announce Daniel Minter as a Visiting Artist for Spring 2020. 

Minter is an American artist working primarily in painting and assemblage, creating an oeuvre that often deals with themes of displacement and diaspora, spirituality in the African American world, and meanings of home. For the past 15 years, Minter has raised awareness of the forced removal in 1911 of an interracial community on Maine’s Malaga Island. His formative work on the subject of Malaga evokes conversation, dialogue, and spawns community building, all around discussions about race, geography, loss, and dislocation. Minter’s multi-series of paintings and sculptural assemblage emerges from his engagement with the island, its descendants, archaeologists, anthropologists, and scholars. His dedication to amplifying the history of Malaga was pivotal in the process of designating the island as a public preserve. Such a classification put into motion an official apology from the State of Maine.

Water Path, Empathy of Tides 39”x51” Acrylic on wood Panel. 2011

As founding director of the Maine Freedom Trails, Minter has likewise helped to highlight the history of the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement in the region. He has also sought to revive the Abyssinian Meeting House, organizing an exhibition of artists of color in what is the third-oldest African American meeting house in the United States. In 2004 and 2011, Minter was commissioned by the United States Postal Service to design Kwanzaa stamps. 

Minter’s work has enjoyed national and international exhibition, being shown at venues such as the Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Bates College, Hammonds House Museum, Northwest African American Art Museum, Museu Jorge Amado, and the Meridian International Center. He lived in Chicago and Brooklyn before moving to Portland, where he now resides with his wife, Marcia. Together, they are the co-founders and creative visionaries of Indigo Arts Alliance, a non-profit organization whose mission is to cultivate the artistic development of people of African descent. 

This spring, Minter will visit Colby College twice to engage with students in two courses: “African American Culture in the United States,” taught by Dr. Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Sociology and African American Studies, and “The Afro-Americas: Race, Power, and Subjectivity,” taught by Dr. Nicolas Ramos Flores, Assistant Professor of Spanish. 

Image of Inaugural Lunder Research Fellows

Lunder Institute Research Symposium: Art by African Americans

Image of Inaugural Lunder Research Fellows

Clockwise from top left: Key Jo Lee, Tess Korobkin, Anna Arabindan-Kesson, Adrienne L. Childs, Rebecca VanDiver, and John Ott.

SAVE THE DATE

Lunder Institute Research Symposium: Art by African Americans

Lunder Institute for American Art, Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine

March 12-13, 2020 

The Lunder Institute is organizing a research symposium in conjunction with its inaugural Research Fellows Program focused on art by African Americans. To kick off this free public event, on the evening of Thursday, March 12, the Lunder Institute and the Colby Museum will host a conversation between renowned artist David C. Driskell and Curlee R. Holton of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park. Presentations by the Lunder Institute Research Fellows, invited speakers, and members of the Colby community will take place throughout the day on Friday, March 13. Fellows will share their research on selected artworks at the Colby Museum, connecting it to important questions in the field regarding African American artists. A roundtable featuring leading academics and curators will comment on the current state and parameters of African American art history and reflect on how and why art by African Americans has been distinguished from the broader field of American art.

Confirmed speakers include:

Anna Arabindan-Kesson, Princeton University

Adrienne L. Childs, Harvard University

Tuliza Fleming, National Museum of African American History and Culture

Melanee Harvey, Howard University

Key Jo Lee, Cleveland Museum of Art

Tess Korobkin, University of Maryland, College Park

John Ott, James Madison University

James Smalls, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Diana Tuite, Colby College Museum of Art

Rebecca VanDiver, Vanderbilt University

Additional details to come in early 2020. 


Beginning in September 2019, the Lunder Institute for American Art will host annually a Distinguished Scholar and a group of Research Fellows at varying stages of their careers to pursue original scholarship around a topic of particular concern to the field of American art. As the Lunder Institute Distinguished Scholar and Director of Research, Tanya Sheehan (William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Art, Colby College) is overseeing the inaugural program in 2019-2020, which will focus on work by African American artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Research Fellows include Anna Arabindan-Kesson (Assistant Professor, Princeton University), Adrienne L. Childs (Research Associate, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University), Tess Korobkin (Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park), Key Jo Lee (Assistant Director of Academic Outreach, Cleveland Museum of Art), John Ott (Professor, James Madison University), and Rebecca VanDiver (Assistant Professor, Vanderbilt University). The Research Fellows program aims to deepen original research into works of art in the Colby College Museum of Art and expand the community of scholars engaged with the collection.

The Research Fellows will put their current research into conversation with artworks in the Museum’s collection by landscape painter Edward Mitchell Bannister (1828-1901), multimedia artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988), figurative painter Bob Thompson (1937-1966) around whom the Museum is organizing a major exhibition in 2021, and contemporary artist-scholar David C. Driskell (b. 1931). Two additional artworks—an abstract painting by Norman Lewis (1909-1979) and a sculpture by Marion Perkins (1908-1961)—have been loaned to the Museum from the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art based in Austin, Texas. The Fellows’ research will develop throughout the academic year, assisted by four Colby students: Katie Herzig ’20, Olivia Hochstadt ’21, Jane MacKerron ’20, and Carter Wynne ’20. 

The group convened on Colby’s campus November 13-16 to study their selected artworks, and meet with area artists and curators to enhance their research. They also participated in high-level discussions on the state and parameters of the field we call African American art history; what constitutes its canon at this moment; and how and why academic scholars, curators, and artists distinguish art by African Americans from the broader field of American art. The Fellows will return to campus in March 2020 to share their research in a public symposium (March 13) and discuss future outcomes for their work. On the evening of March 12, the Lunder Institute and the Museum will host a conversation between David C. Driskell and Curlee R. Holton of the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland, College Park.

The Lunder Institute Research Fellows program was funded, in part, by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Research Symposium was cosponsored by the Colby College Museum of Art, the Department of Art, the American Studies Program, and the African American Studies Program at Colby College.