Staying Connected: Updates from the 2019–20 Research Fellows

Our inaugural Research Fellows Program, focused on art by African Americans, is already having a significant impact on scholarship. Distinguished Scholar and Director of Research Tanya Sheehan recently reconnected with the six 2019–20 fellows and learned about their plans to disseminate the research they conducted on artworks at the Colby College Museum of Art, including objects in the permanent collection and works on loan from the Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art. Read more

Recapping Our Educator Evening with Maya Lin

 

Maya Lin’s tenure as a Lunder Institute senior fellow started with great enthusiasm, a feeling that continues to grow along with her network of Colby and community collaborators. In addition to delivering online lectures and participating in discussions in several courses at Colby, Lin has embarked on outreach to encourage the participation of Maine’s K–12 students in What Is Missing?, her “last memorial” to the environment.

In October, Lin discussed the memorial with a lively virtual audience of Maine’s teachers during an Educator Evening co-organized by the Lunder Institute and the Museum. Framed as a storytelling initiative, Lin’s project asks our younger audience members to interview people in their communities to uncover local narratives about endangered species and habitat loss. 

“Interview your grandparents, interview your great-grandparents,” Lin suggested. “It’s a wonderful way to have older generations connect with younger generations through nature.” The students will then have the opportunity to contribute their stories to What Is Missing?, spotlighting Maine on Lin’s map of memories. 

In discussing the state’s leading role in conservation and dam removal, Lin anticipates that Maine stories might demonstrate natural abundance and recovery, countering narratives of loss elsewhere. “Everywhere we can showcase how much conservation has helped nature rebound is a success for me,” said Lin. Environmental hope has been a key message in her academic engagements at Colby and across Maine. “Art can give us hope by showing us a road map. Nature is resilient. If we protect it, nature can be and has been restored.”

As one teacher attending the Educator Evening said, “This is a great project with an artist who is totally committed to working in a sensible, historical way [about how] our planet has changed.”

We are  excited to share the impact of Lin’s fellowship in a virtual program featuring the artist and some of her Colby collaborators, to be held in spring 2021.

Image: Detail of Maya Lin: A River Is a Drawing, Installation at Hudson River Museum, 511 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers, NY, October 12, 2018–January 20, 2019.

Colby Students Reflect on the Lunder Institute Talks

The Lunder Institute’s interns and research assistants attended the Lunder Institute Talks, asking questions, making connections to their courses and research, and highlighting the relevance of the series to the present moment. These events featured Daisy Desrosiers with Naeem Mohaiemen on September 24; Tanya Sheehan with Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman on October 15; and Theaster Gates with Romi Crawford on November 12. Here are the students’ reflections on these events:  Read more

David Park Curry on Whistler: An Interview by Nicholas Malkemus ’21

In the summer of 2020, Nicholas Malkemus ’21 held the Lunder Consortium for Whistler Studies internship, an opportunity that emerged following his participation in the Colby Museum’s internship program, for which, among other projects, he generated a data analysis of the Museum’s print collection. As the Lunder Consortium intern, Nick performed comparably detailed work, tracking down historical images and creating a database for Some Old Curiosity Shops: Whistler, Commerce, and the Art of Urban Change, an exhibition that is being curated by current Lunder Institute senior fellow David Park Curry and that will appear at the Colby Museum, the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and other venues beginning in 2023. A printmaker and a Whistler enthusiast, Malkemus asked Curry about their shared fascination with an American artist whose career and life embodied the transnational experience that has shaped American art. Read more

Lunder Institute Talks: Tanya Sheehan with Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman

Recorded on via Zoom on Thursday, October 15, 2020, at 6 p.m., this is the second installment of the Lunder Institute Talks, a series of live, hour-long Zoom conversations with scholars and artists who are shaping the field of American art. Together, Lunder Institute area directors (Daisy Desrosiers, Theaster Gates, and Tanya Sheehan) and invited guests explore contemporary questions through artistic practice. Each conversation engages with artworks and/or ongoing projects related to the Colby Museum, including work by the invited artists.

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. His collaborative projects include Question Bridge: Black Males, In Search Of The Truth (The Truth Booth) and Writing on the Wall. Thomas is a recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship (2018), Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2018), Art for Justice Grant (2018), AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017), Soros Equality Fellowship (2017), and is a former member of the New York City Public Design Commission.

Eric Gottesman photographs, writes, makes videos, teaches, and uses art as a vehicle to explore aesthetic, social, and political culture. Gottesman is a 2020 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, the recipient of a 2017 International Center of Photography Infinity Award, a 2015 Creative Capital Artist Grant, and a 2010 Fulbright Fellowship in art as well as an Artadia Award, an Aaron Siskind Foundation Artist Fellowship, a Massachusetts Individual Artist Fellowship, and other grants and awards.

Thomas and Gottesman are cofounders of For Freedoms, an artist-run initiative to merge political and artistic discourse, which was awarded the 2017 ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform.

Lunder Institute Talks: Daisy Desrosiers with Naeem Mohaiemen

Recorded on via Zoom on Thursday, September 24, 2020, at 6 p.m., this is the first installment of the Lunder Institute Talks, a series of live, hour-long Zoom conversations with scholars and artists who are shaping the field of American art. Together, Lunder Institute area directors (Daisy Desrosiers, Theaster Gates, and Tanya Sheehan) and invited guests explore contemporary questions through artistic practice. Each conversation engages with artworks and/or ongoing projects related to the Colby Museum, including work by the invited artists.

Naeem Mohaiemen combines films, installations, and essays to research socialist utopia, malleable borders, and rhizomatic families. Mohaiemen is author of Prisoners of Shothik Itihash (Kunsthalle Basel, 2014), and co-editor with Eszter Szakacs of Solidarity Must be Defended (Tranzit, forthcoming). He is a 2020–21 Senior Fellow at the Lunder Institute for American Art, 2020–23 Mellon Fellow at Columbia University, and is on the Advisory Board of the Vera List Center for Art & Politics at the New School in New York.

You can learn more about the full series, and register for our other talks, here.

Lunder Institute Launches New Virtual Talk Series for Fall 2020

The Lunder Institute for American Art is pleased to announce the Lunder Institute Talks, a series of live, hour-long Zoom conversations with scholars and artists who are shaping the field of American art. Together, Lunder Institute area directors (Daisy Desrosiers, Theaster Gates, and Tanya Sheehan) and invited guests will explore contemporary questions through artistic practice. Each conversation will engage with artworks and/or ongoing projects related to the Colby Museum, including work by the invited artists. Read more

Lunder Institute Appoints Maya Lin to 2020–21 Senior Fellowship

In acknowledgement of her achievements as an artist who has re-envisioned monuments and whose practice actively contributes to a deeper understanding of human impacts on the environment, the Lunder Institute for American Art has appointed renowned artist Maya Lin as a senior fellow for the 2020–21 academic year. Throughout the year, Lin will participate in online collaborations with students, faculty, and community members, including academic engagements with Colby courses.  Read more

Colby Faculty Lead Teaching with Primary Sources Workshops

The now virtual Teaching with Primary Sources workshop series, co-organized by the Lunder Institute, the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, and the Cleveland Museum of Art, continued its programming throughout the summer. In May and June, Rachel Beane (Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Bowdoin College) led a two-part, interactive discussion on Zoom with the ten workshop participants, who are early career academics teaching American art history. Professor Beane offered an overview of the principles of assignment design, and the participants applied those to their teaching with archival primary sources. Read more

Naeem Mohaiemen Named a 2020–21 Senior Fellow

Naeem Mohaiemen has been selected to be a Senior Fellow for the 2020–21 academic year. As the inaugural recipient of an Alfonso Ossorio Creative Production Grant, an endowed program overseen by the Lunder Institute, he will develop a new film based on collaborative research with Colby faculty and students, and with additional research at sites in Maine.

“Maine’s settler history has often surfaced in genre fiction. This invitation is an opportunity to excavate the crevices within this popular literary form,” shared Mohaiemen. Read more

The New Social Environment: Daisy Desrosiers and Joan Jonas

Our own Daisy Desrosiers, director of artist programs, recently joined with video performance pioneer Joan Jonas for a conversation for the 104th installment of The Brooklyn Rail’s New Social Environment series.

Their vibrant conversation covers Joan’s interest in mythology, the importance of collaboration, new technology, and culminates with a robust Q&A (including cameos from Theaster Gates and Bob Holman). Poet Stacy Szymaszek⁠ closed the event with a reading. Read more

Teaching with Primary Sources Goes Virtual

As institutions around the world abruptly turned to remote teaching this spring, the Teaching with Primary Sources Workshop seriesa unique collaboration among the Lunder Institute, the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, and the Cleveland Museum of Art that offers professional training to early career academicsalso moved its activities to the virtual realm. Read more

Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

The brutal and seemingly nonchalant killing of George Floyd by a police officer while other officers stood by is an excruciating but far too common occurrence in this country’s long and persistent history of devaluing the lives of black Americans….Racialized violence lays bare the remarkable inequities in our society. We have seen the manifestation of those inequities in other ways over these last several weeks, from the death toll from COVID-19 on communities of color and the most vulnerable amongst us to the historic loss of employment that has hit the lowest-wage earners—the individuals least likely to have a safety net—the hardest. It is essential that we not simply talk about these issues but that we act to address them.…The time to support this work is now.

– David A. Greene
President, Colby College Read more

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. Read more

Lunder Institute Announces 2020–21 Scholarly Senior Fellows

The Lunder Institute supports scholarly and creative research by scholars, curators, and artists. We are pleased to announce the senior fellowships of scholars Romi Crawford and David Park Curry.

Romi Crawford (Ph.D.) is a 2020–21 Lunder Institute senior fellow and is working on a monographic publication on Lunder Institute Distinguished Visiting Artist and Director of Artist Initiatives Theaster Gates. It will consider the wide scope and dimensionality of his artistic practice, with a focus on the under-examined narratives of “extreme collaboration” intrinsic to Gates’s work as it relates to building and land procurement. As part of her fellowship, Crawford will host a public program centered around a Gates work in the Colby Museum’s collection and her research. She will also participate in a recorded conversation with Gates that will become part of the Lunder Institute’s Vocal Archive, an initiative that records contemporary artists speaking about their works in the Colby Museum’s collection. Read more