David Driskell and Maine

David Driskell, Blue Pines, 1959. Oil on canvas, 36 x 29 in. (91.4 x 73.7 cm). Gift from the Alex Katz Foundation and Museum purchase from the Jere Abbott Acquisitions Fund. Accession Number: 2017.388

The Lunder Institute for American Art, the Portland Museum of Art , and the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture are pleased to announce David Driskell and Maine, on Saturday, July 24, 2021, 4 p.m., at the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture.

David Driskell (1931–2020) attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in the summer of 1953 and remained part of the Skowhegan community for the rest of his life. His connection to Maine and to the School influenced many artists over several generations, and artists worked with him as a teacher, advisor, mentor, and friend. The participants in this conversation will discuss the meaning of David’s legacy within their practices, and in Maine more generally. Speakers will include Ruth Fine, Desmond Lewis, Julie L. McGee, and Sylvia Snowden; moderated by Sarah Workneh.

Organized in conjunction with the exhibition David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History (Portland Museum of Art, June 19 through September 12, 2021), this conversation will be followed by a reception and an optional tour of the Skowhegan campus.

This event is free but registration is required and capacity is limited. Register now.

Dread Scott Named 2021–22 Senior Fellow

For the 2021–22 academic year, we are pleased to announce the senior fellowship of artist Dread Scott. Senior fellows are chosen by invitation; their appointments last from nine to eighteen months, during which they contribute to the Colby community through academic engagement and one or more public programs related to their research. Scott’s fellowship represents a collaboration between the Lunder Institute and Colby’s Center for the Arts and Humanities as part of the Center’s 2021–22 humanities theme, “Freedom & Captivity.” Read more

Lunder Institute Interns and Research Assistants Reflect on the Past Year

In the 2020–21 academic year, the Lunder Institute employed eight Colby College student research assistants and interns. At the end of the spring semester, they reflected on a challenging but rewarding year and their individual contributions to the Institute’s fellowships and related programs. Read their insights here.

Inaugural Cohort of Resident Fellows Moves In

Established in 2021, the Lunder Institute residential fellowships provide artists with spacious studios as well as opportunities for collaboration with Colby College faculty, students, staff, and the Waterville community. This new studio program, which is based at the Arts Collaborative at 18 Main Street in downtown Waterville, encompasses artists at all stages of their careers and working in a range of artistic disciplines and mediums. Resident fellows are provided with housing and a stipend; have access to Colby College campus facilities; and are in dialogue with local organizations and community members.

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Maya Lin, Interrupted River: Penobscot

Memorializing the Natural Environment: Maya Lin in conversation with Jessamine Batario, Danae Jacobson, and Chris Walker

Recorded on via Zoom on Thursday, May 6, 2021, at 6 p.m., this program is part of the Spring 2021 Lunder Institute Talks, a series of live, unscripted conversations with scholars and artists who are shaping the field of American art.

Consider how art, science, and history converge in Maya Lin’s “last memorial,” What is Missing?, a multi-sited and multimedia project devoted to the global biodiversity crisis related to habitat loss. As a 2020–21 Lunder Institute senior fellow, Lin has been working with several Colby College courses and engaging with the local community to make contributions to the project. This Lunder Institute Talk features Lin in conversation with her Colby faculty collaborators, Chris Walker (Assistant Professor of English) and Danae Jacobson (Visiting Assistant Professor in History). Together, they reflect on this year’s creative projects and research, discussing art’s capacity to convey urgent scientific information and the role of community participation in the formation of a public history project.

Maya Lin is an artist, designer, and environmentalist who has received both the National Medal of Arts (2009) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2016). Since designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC (1982), Lin has built a practice that balances her interests in art, architecture, and the natural environment. She has remained firmly committed to her Memory Works, of which What is Missing? is the ongoing final project. Lin has consistently focused on utilizing scientific methodology to create artworks that draw the viewer’s attention to nature in order to consider our relationship to it. From large-scale earthworks to intimate sculptural mappings of terrain, waterways, and mountains, Lin’s work reveals aspects of the natural world that are oftentimes overlooked.

Danae Jacobson is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Colby College. She received her PhD in Environmental History from Notre Dame in 2019, and is now working on a book manuscript. Her work focuses on intersections of gender, religion, and race in the U.S. West; specifically, she studies the roles of Catholic nuns in 19th century settler colonialism and empire. In addition to her research, Danae enjoys engaging with students about the multiple ways history shapes the kinds of communities we build, the kind of earth we inhabit, the kind of people we identify with, and the kind of change we imagine possible.

Christopher Allen Walker is Assistant Professor in English at Colby College, where he researches and teaches in the environmental humanities. His book project, Narratives of Decay: Environmental Change and Speculative Form, argues that 20th-century scientists and artists developed shared speculative languages in response to newly discovered processes of material decay. He is co-director of the Colby Summer Institute in Environmental Humanities.

Jessamine Batario is an art historian of modern and contemporary art and the Linde Family Foundation Curator of Academic Engagement at the Colby College Museum of Art. She received her PhD in Art History from The University of Texas at Austin, where her research project, Contemporary Transgressions: the Byzantine-Modern Connection, received support from the Dedalus Foundation, Getty Research Institute Library, and the Vivian L. Smith Foundation at The Menil Collection. Her published work can be found in the Journal of Art HistoriographyDifferent Visions, and the Brooklyn Rail

Featured Image: Maya Lin, Interrupted River: Penobscot (detail), 2019. Glass marbles and adhesive, 288 x 264 x 120 in. (732 x 671 x 305 cm). Museum purchase from Sandy ’78 and Sissy Buck, Laura Keeler Pierce ’07 and M. Vassar Pierce Jr., Seth A. Thayer ’89 and Gregory N. Tinder, the Bruce C. Drouin ’74 and Janet L. Hansen ’75 Maine Art Endowed Fund, and the Robert Cross Vergobbi ’51 Museum Acquisition Fund; 2020.026.

Watch Maine on the Map of Memory: Lunder-Buck Interns and What Is Missing?

On Monday, May 3, 2021, Colby students Helen Bennett ‘22 and Cal Waichler ‘21 reflected on their year working on the What Is Missing? project with Lunder Institute senior fellow Maya Lin and her team of researchers. Bennett and Waichler discussed their experiences building a Maine environmental history timeline and translating that research into an installation for the Arts Collaborative. Designed to be interdisciplinary and collaborative at its foundation, the Lunder-Buck Internship Program is a partnership between the Lunder Institute for American Art and the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment.

This conversation was introduced by Gail Carlson, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Director of the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment, and moderated by Jessamine Batario, Linde Family Foundation Curator of Academic Engagement, Colby College Museum of Art.

Featured image: Jeremy Frey, Color in Winter, 2019. Black ash, sweetgrass, birchbark, porcupine quills, dye, 16 x 12 x 12 in. (41 x 30 x 30 cm). Museum purchase from the Bruce C. Drouin ’74 and Janet L. Hansen ’75 Maine Art Endowed Fund and Friends of Art; 2019.026.

Reframing Modern Art of the American Southwest: Patricia Marroquin Norby in conversation with Jessica Horton

Recorded on via Zoom on Thursday, April 22, 2021, at 6 p.m., this program is part of the Spring 2021 Lunder Institute Talks, a series of live, unscripted conversations with scholars and artists who are shaping the field of American art.

Explore new research shaping understanding of modern art of the American Southwest—the focus of the Lunder Institute’s Research Fellows Program in 2021–22. University of Delaware professor Jessica Horton (2021–22 Distinguished Scholar) and the Met’s Associate Curator of Native American Art Patricia Marroquin Norby (2021–22 Research Fellow) will discuss some of the questions guiding their research. How, for example, have the social and environmental upheavals of western expansion been registered—or suppressed—in art made during the first half of the 20th century by makers of diverse heritages? How might Indigenous and environmental justice change our analysis of historical materials? What methods are most needed today to address the legacies of colonialism and its contestation in Southwest modernisms and American art history more broadly?
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Maine on the Map of Memory: Lunder-Buck Interns and What Is Missing?

Monday, May 3, 2021, 6 p.m.

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Join Colby students Helen Bennett ‘22 and Cal Waichler ‘21 via Zoom as they reflect on their year working on the What Is Missing? project with Lunder Institute senior fellow Maya Lin and her team of researchers. Bennett and Waichler will discuss their experiences building a Maine environmental history timeline and translating that research into an installation for the Arts Collaborative. Designed to be interdisciplinary and collaborative at its foundation, the Lunder-Buck Internship Program is a partnership between the Lunder Institute for American Art and the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment. Read more

Oral Histories in the Present Tense: Ben Gillespie, Liza Kirwin, and Wendy Red Star in conversation with Beth Finch

Recorded on via Zoom on Thursday, March 18, 2021, at 6 p.m., this program is part of the Spring 2021 Lunder Institute Talks, a series of live, unscripted conversations with scholars and artists who are shaping the field of American art.

How are artists responding to the challenges, demands, and losses of this moment as well as the opportunities it has offered for renewal, transformation, and growth? Over the Summer of 2020, the Archives of American Art created a new initiative, the Pandemic Oral History Project, that includes responses to the global pandemic across the American art world. This Lunder Institute Talk features the artist Wendy Red Star, a participant in the project, and Ben Gillespie and Liza Kirwin of the Archives of American Art in conversation with Beth Finch. The event will feature selected highlights from the eighty-five interviews, focusing on artists’ responses to this invitation to speak about their experiences during a time of interrelated crises. The conversation also touches on the Lunder Institute’s Vocal Archive, an oral history initiative dedicated to gathering artists’ reflections on works in the Colby Museum’s collection. Read more

Maya Lin, Interrupted River: Penobscot

Announcing the Lunder Institute Talks Series for Spring 2021

Maya Lin, Interrupted River: Penobscot

The Lunder Institute for American Art is pleased to announce the lineup for the Spring 2021 Lunder Institute Talks series.

The Lunder Institute Talks are a series of live, unscripted hour-long Zoom conversations with scholars and artists who are shaping the field of American art. These conversations bring audiences up close with creative and research processes. Lunder Institute team members and invited guests delve into work in progress, engage with artworks and projects related to the Colby College Museum of Art, and connect these to contemporary questions about art and society.  Read more

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.

Learn more about how to get involved in What Is Missing? here. 

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.