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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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A Space for Dialogue

Dartmouth student intern Ben O'Donnell gives his Space for Dialogue gallery talk.

As acting curator, an intern figures out the best layout for her exhibition.

Mentoring Student Curators: From Idea to Exhibition

At the end of each academic year, Hood staff members ask the current senior interns to tell us what project they enjoyed most at the museum. They invariably comment that curating their own exhibition for the ongoing series Space for Dialogue: Fresh Perspectives on the Permanent Collection from Dartmouth's Students (SFD) was not only the best experience but also transformed the way in which they think about art and museums. During the SFD process, each intern completes a crash course on exhibitions, from choosing a concept and selecting objects to writing object labels and a brochure.

Craig Lee '08, Mellon Special Project Intern, an avid student of architectural history who chose to work with architect Charles Moore's drawings for the current Hood building, reported that "selecting items for my SFD really opened my eyes as to how accessible and open the collection of the Hood Museum is for students." The most exhilarating, and perhaps daunting, part of the process for interns is choosing the artwork for their display (usually four to six objects) from tens of thousands of works in the museum's collection. The museum staff is always impressed with students' creativity in their exhibition themes as well as their ingenuity in grouping diverse objects, some of which have never before been on view. For example, in the first three SFD exhibitions this academic year alone, twelve previously unexhibited objects were displayed, including an ancient Egyptian jar from around 2250 BCE; a seventeenth-century Russian tankard; and prints by the Italian artist Castiglione, American artist Winslow Homer, and African American artist Romare Bearden.

Some students also take advantage of the sheer variety of the museum's holdings. Ben O'Donnell '08, Class of 1954 Intern, said, "In selecting the theme of my exhibit, I considered the general student, the potential art enthusiast who has perhaps not had the time or inclination yet to become acquainted with the museum. After searching the museum catalogue and considering such themes as sex or weaponry, I settled on ‘The Art of Drinking.' The Hood has a robust collection of cups, glasses, and tankards, as well as prints and drawings by Hogarth, Grosz, and other heavyweights. The feedback I got from other students, many of them not students of art, was very positive."

We have found that interns' coursework at Dartmouth has often inspired the conceptual framework for their installation. Melissa Fan'08, Levinson Student Intern, cites her senior art history major seminar on theory and method as an influence on the way she approached her SFD topic, in particular Hans-Georg Gadamer's theory of each individual's "historical horizon," or culturally defined paradigm for viewing the world. She decided to work on the surrealist artists Joan Miró and Dorothea Tanning, finding that "how they define themselves in their work not only reflects personal desires, but reveals important events and the process of forming a self-identity that one presents to the world. I chose my objects because they involve self-portraiture and artistic collaboration, which simultaneously reveals how Miró and Tanning both define their own identities and how they want to be perceived by others." Homma Family Intern Virginia Deaton '08 took American art with art history professor Mary Coffey her sophomore winter, which led to her choice of works related to the U.S. Civil War: "When I saw the [George] Barnard photograph of the burned out Atlanta, I knew that I wanted to use that." Inspired by this detailed photograph of the scarred city, she chose the topic of the aftermath of the war and consumer-driven art.

Indeed, for some interns the SFD becomes one of the defining moments of their college career. Ben O'Donnell said, "The Space for Dialogue experience has been one of the highlights of my time here as an undergraduate. The opportunity to organize, from the ground up, an entire exhibition engaged me in the world of museum curating tremendously." As the SFD program continues, thanks in large part during its first six years to support from the Class of 1948 and now to generous endowments from the Class of 1967 and the Bonnie and Richard Reiss Jr. '66 Education Access Fund, Dartmouth students will continue to use their creativity and learning to transform how the museum's collections are seen.

Past A Space for Dialogue Installations, 2001-7

Untitled (Elihu Vedder and Fumio Yoshimura)
Amelia Kahl '01, Curatorial/Programming Assistant

Untitled (relationships between art and war)
Amanda Potter '02, Education Intern

Untitled (Jean Dubuffet and Cornelia Parker)
Allison Evans '02, Curatorial Intern

Untitled (Johann Ender and Louus LeRoux)
Maggie Lind '02, Curatorial Intern

Creating Under Pressure: Artistic Brilliance as a Symbol of Cultural Resilience
Kimberly Soderstrom '02, Class of 1954 Hood Museum of Art Public Relations Intern

Untitled (Stanley Willaim Haytor's engraving series "The Death of Hector", 1979)
Carolyn Swan '02, Classical Coin Intern

Untitled (Bill Viola and Carrie Mae Weems)
Laura Tepper '02 and Kathy Grayson '02

An Economy in Transition: Art of the Plains at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
James Parker '02, Curatorial Intern

Consuming Life: On the Ideals of Beauty and Assuming Identity in a Culture of Fear
Paula Bigboy '03, Curatorial Intern

The Power of (Re)Construction: Changing Perceptions of Black American Identity
Mercedes Duff '03, Class of 1954 Hood Museum of Art Curatorial Intern

Spinning a Story: Manipulations of Motherhood by Women Artists
Jourdan Abel '03, Education Intern

Emmett and Cadmus: Looking At/For the Homoerotic Power Struggle
Joseph Ackley '03, Curatorial Intern

Seeing the Unseen: The "Decisive Moment" in Twentieth-Century Photography
Katherine Reibel '03, Public Relations Intern

The Art of Acting from Stage to Screen: Connecting with Audiences through the Centuries
Christopher Chan '03, Classical Coin Intern

Art and Craft: Ceramics and the Question of Form vs. Function
Alison Schmauch '04

Shape and Shadow: How Geometry Shapes Composition and Perception
Kevin Perry '04, Public Relations Intern

Sexes in the City: Exploring Urban Men and Women through Five Centuries of Popular Prints
Megan Fontanella '04, Class of 1954 Hood Museum of Art Curatorial Intern

Timepieces: Perceptions of Natural and Manmade Time
Lisa Volpe '04, Curatorial Intern

Playing Around with Art
Dianne Choie '04, Education Intern

Broken Bodies: Icons of Sexual Violence
Risa Needleman '04, Curatorial Intern

Orientalism: The Art of the French Colonial Encounter
Kathryn Conroy '05, Special Project Intern

Léger, Tanning, and Daura: Sexuality and Surrealism
Rose McClendon '06, Special Project Intern

White Eyes, Black Faces: The Depiction of African Americans by White Artists
Evan Jones '05, Public Relations Intern

Say Word.
Callie Helen Thompson '05, Student Programming Intern

Body (A)part: Fragmentation of the Female Form
Alexis Ettinger '05, Curatorial Intern

Feminine Genius: Sensibility, Sensuality, and Sense in Eighteenth-Century Portraiture
Kori Lisa Yee Litt '05, Curatorial/Education Intern

Relooking at Photographs, Deciphering the Details
Lisa Casey '05

Insatiable Appetites: Curiosity, Consumption, and the Traveler in Historic Japan
Catharine Roberts '05

Reflections on the Mirror
Katherine Harrison '06

Beauty Marks: African Metal Body Adornments
Jennifer Peterson '06

Myth of the Noble Savage
Meghan Rice '06

Sacrilege and Idolatry: Religious Images in 16th-Century Europe
Brittany Beth '06

Picturing Family in "the South": Legacies of the American Civil War
Sophia Hutson ‘06

Images of War
Cristina Duncan Evans ‘06

Frames of Influence: Behavior and Anonymity in Urban Life
Jessica Hodin ‘07

The Eye of the Beheld
Caitlin Roberts ‘08

Lines of Text
Jonathan Beilin ‘07

Open to Interpretation: The Experience of Gestural Abstraction
Alexandra Franco ‘07

Last Updated: 10/14/08