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Letter from the Director: Winter 2016

John Stomberg

John Stomberg

Hood Quarterly, winter 2016
John Stomberg, Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director

It is a great pleasure to write to you as the inaugural Virginia Rice Kelsey 1961s Director of the Hood Museum of Art. The Hood has long been a leader in its field and has constantly advanced its practice through innovative approaches to collecting, exhibiting, and teaching with art. Faculty members from multiple disciplines rely on the Hood for the pedagogical enhancements it brings to classes, students look to it for both curricular and extracurricular activities, and visitors count on it for dynamic programming. The Hood matters; it serves multiple communities and it serves them well.

All this good work will soon be advanced significantly by a major addition to the wonderful Charles Moore building that the Hood has called home for the last thirty years. The architectural firm of Tod Williams Billie Tsien has been at work inventing imaginative ways to increase the square footage and the visibility of the Hood. Tod and Billie are poets of space, and their work will become a signature landmark for the Hood and Dartmouth. Teaching with art is a creative enterprise and the new building will be a physical manifestation of that belief.

As you will see in these pages, the project is well under way. The plans include more object study rooms, a sweeping public reception space, and several stunning new galleries. The museum will soon need to curtail much of its operations to allow the construction to begin in earnest. During the next few years, the museum will be in touch regularly to update you on its progress and to let you know about ongoing programs. The Hood will not be gone, just a moving target.

Before the construction begins, the museum still has one more season of exhibitions to present. Senior Curator of Collections Kathy Hart has once again worked her magic to bring you a presentation of new work by Vermont artist Eric Aho. Known for paintings that push the envelope between representation and abstraction, Aho embraces the metaphysics of the unknown in his recent work. These paintings, based on ice cuts in a pond near his home, encourage the contemplation of absence versus presence—what is a hole, after all? Aho carries forth in paintings a tradition of allusion long associated with Vermont poets, and the Hood is thrilled for the opportunity to bring his work to the Upper Valley.

The other special treat features a wide range of works by artists from multiple African nations. Inventory: New Works and Conversations around African Art represents a sampling of the brilliant collection that curator Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi has been building for the Hood. Notable for the variety of work on view, Inventory demonstrates the breadth and vitality of contemporary art across the African continent and around the world. This is fast becoming a collecting strength of the Hood, and one that sets it apart from all but a handful of the other teaching museums in the United States.

Old art and new, borrowed and from the collection, moments of delight and of challenge, the familiar and the surprising—all of these will continue to characterize the Hood experience. As the museum moves through the exciting changes that lie in its immediate future, I hope that you will stay tuned and engaged. And I look forward to meeting every one of you in the years ahead.

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