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Colby College has been awarded a $600,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the Colby Museum’s Lunder Institute for American Art and its inaugural programming.

The award will add depth to the institute’s programs, which have already made an impact on Colby students and faculty, Waterville school children, and visiting artists. In 2014 the Mellon Foundation generously supported the Colby Museum’s academic programming, and this new grant will further expand opportunities for student and faculty research and scholarship in all 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.”

The Mellon grant will support four key areas: advancing American art scholarship and artistic practice through multidisciplinary, multi-genre residencies and convenings; engaging students and faculty by creating teaching and research opportunities with visiting artists and scholars that reach across the curriculum; sharing and archiving scholarly and artistic projects through exhibitions and publications; and increasing local and global collaborative opportunities that engage with the artistic and scholarly initiatives of the Lunder Institute in partnership with Colby students and faculty.

In its first full academic year, the institute played host to two renowned artists who worked closely with Colby students, faculty, and members of the local community. In the fall semester, Theaster Gates worked with Colby students in an American studies class on urban renewal projects and met with community partners and residents. Richard Blanco, inaugural poet for President Obama’s second inauguration, spent the spring semester on campus, most notably teaching a course titled “Teach This Poem” in which Colby students learned to be poetry ambassadors for local school children. Blanco also conducted workshops for area schoolteachers.

The future holds even more, says Carolyn Muzzy Director and Chief Curator Sharon Corwin. “As we continue to launch the Lunder Institute, this grant will significantly expand our ability to bring artists and scholars to Colby while making the programs of the Lunder Institute accessible to Colby students and faculty and our broader communities,” she said. “We are honored and grateful for the Mellon Foundation’s support.”

The institute recently named four outstanding individuals to key leadership positions. Lee Glazer will serve as founding director of the institute, bringing experience as curator of American art for the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and expertise in the art of James McNeill Whistler, Romare Bearden, and others. Joining Glazer are Gates, the first distinguished visiting artist and director of artist initiatives, and Tanya Sheehan, the distinguished scholar and director of research. Sheehan is currently Colby’s William R. Kenan Jr. Associate Professor of Art and chair of the Department of Art. Most recently, the institute has brought on Daisy Desrosiers, an arts leader from Montréal, as program director.

“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, who arrives at Colby in September. “This grant will enhance all of our work, from our cross-disciplinary collaborations to our scholarly symposiums to our community projects.”

About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Founded in 1969, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. Additional information is available at mellon.org.

Lunder Institute for American Art

Integrated into the academic mission of the College and the museum’s program, the Lunder Institute is a research center for American art established by Peter and Paula Lunder. The institute creates a unique space for scholarship, creative works, dialogue, and mentorship among visiting scholars and artists, Colby faculty and students, and the central Maine community; facilitates institutional exchange in the United States and internationally; and trains future leaders in the field of American art through the Colby museum and partner institutions around the world. To advance critical and creative research in American art and related fields, the institute hosts a residential program for scholars and artists on campus and in downtown Waterville. Residencies are offered to graduate students, scholars, curators, and emerging and internationally renowned artists who may develop new site-specific works on campus and in the community.