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Letter from the Director: Summer 2013

Hood Quarterly, summer 2013
Michael R. Taylor, Director

Transformative encounters with original works of art are at the very heart of the Hood’s mission as a teaching museum, and this summer offers superb opportunities for Dartmouth’s students and faculty, as well as local community members, to experience art from different cultures and time periods, and to look and learn together. In addition to the visually stunning exhibition The Women of Shin Hanga: The Judith and Joseph Barker Collection of Japanese Prints and the Dartmouth student–curated exhibition Word and Image, this summer also brings a fascinating new exhibition, Shadowplay: Transgressive Photography from the Hood Museum of Art, co-curated by Virginia Beahan and Brian Miller, both of whom are important photographers and senior lecturers in Dartmouth’s Studio Art Department. We invite you to visit all three exhibitions, and to participate in one or more of our programs.

In preparation for our photography exhibition, thirteen Dartmouth students participated in the Hood’s non-curricular course Museum Collecting 101 this past winter. During this six-week course, Beahan and Miller co-taught the students about the history of photography as a transgressive medium and examined the ways in which transgression remains a key theme for contemporary photographers. The students then chose a work for the museum to acquire and exhibit. Their diverse perspectives and interests—the students’ majors ranged from engineering modified with studio art to psychology with a public policy minor—made for a fascinating dialogue and debate about which work to select for the museum’s collection. In the end, they chose a photograph by Tierney Gearon from The Mother Project. Part of an eight-year series, Gearon’s work looks closely at her own family while also considering larger issues around mental illness, aging, and the parent-child relationship. Their acquisition, in addition to providing a work for display in the exhibition and broadening the museum’s holdings, offers a snapshot of young adults’ academic and artistic interests at this moment in time.

The “Alumni Voices” feature in this issue of the Hood Quarterly is by the museum’s Coordinator of Academic Programming, Amelia Kahl, Dartmouth Class of 2001, who curated the first A Space for Dialogue exhibition at the Hood Museum of Art. The enormous success of this program, which is now in its twelfth year and seventy-seventh installation, led us to wonder about the lasting impact of a Hood internship. We mailed 150 letters in January to all of our past interns, asking them to share their stories with us. The responses were quite staggering and illuminating, reminding us of the importance of experience-based learning and mentoring. We invite everyone to learn more about the A Space for Dialogue program by visiting the exhibitions that the Hood interns organize every year, which change every six to eight weeks, or by attending the public talk that each student presents. Please look for details on our website and sign up to be on our Hood Happenings email list.

As we look ahead, we have some exciting preparations underway to share with you. This fall, Picasso: The Vollard Suite and the related exhibition Cubism and Its Legacy will feature important works from the Hood’s collection and some spectacular loans from private and museum collections. For winter 2014, we are collaborating with Dartmouth’s Studio Art Department on a large-scale exhibition and publication that will explore the history of Dartmouth’s important and influential Artist-in-Residence Program. This current issue of the Hood Quarterly provides a wonderful prelude to this exhibition with an essay by Jessica Womack, Dartmouth Class of 2014, titled “Finding Carlos Sanchez.” Carlos Sanchez, Dartmouth Class of 1923, was the first artist-in-residence at Dartmouth College, from 1931 to 1933, though very little was known until now about the life and work of this remarkable Guatemalan artist and his residency at Dartmouth. We look forward to sharing these exhibitions and more with you in the year ahead.

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the architects of the Hood’s upcoming expansion and renovation, have now completed the pre-schematic design for the project, and we look forward to showing these plans to incoming president Phil Hanlon after he begins his tenure at Dartmouth on June 10. I conclude the present letter with the exciting news that José Clemente Orozco’s mural The Epic of American Civilization, long a treasure at Dartmouth, was recently designated as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior. The official recognition of the historical importance of this fresco cycle in Baker Library is a testament to its continuing relevance and impact nearly eighty years after it was completed, and it will protect and preserve The Epic of American Civilization for all time.

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