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Student Participation in Word and Image

Hood Quarterly, spring 2013
Michael Taylor, Director

This spring, twenty-four studio art majors from the Class of 2013 worked with me on a special exhibition examining the use and significance of words and language in contemporary art. Building on the success of last year’s student-centered exhibition The Expanding Grid, this project offered these seniors a unique opportunity to learn more about museums and curatorial practice by participating in the organization of a major exhibition at the Hood Museum of Art.

The students were introduced to new forms of interplay between word and image in modern and contemporary global art and encouraged to think critically about the works on display and the ideas behind them. Examining original works of art in the Bernstein Study-Storage Center honed their close observational skills and informed their selections for the exhibition, which includes paintings, sculpture, video, photography, and other works on paper by such noted contemporary artists as Gerald Auten, Christo, Marcel Duchamp, Lalla Essaydi, Robert Gober, Daniel Heyman, Gary Hill, Roy Lichtenstein, Glenn Ligon, Faith Ringgold, Ed Ruscha, Nancy Spero, and Fred Wilson.

Once the exhibition checklist had been finalized, each student chose a word-imbued artwork to research and for which to write an object label. In doing so, they were exposed to new artists and unfamiliar art forms and invited to write from their own perspectives as Dartmouth students and studio art majors rather than as museum professionals. This unique vantage point allowed these students to consider the manifold infiltrations of the written word into the visual arts in fresh and exciting ways. Thanks to their creative input, visitors to the exhibition will be able to explore how words and images can merge in harmony, engage in politics and protest, and, finally, interact in an experimental way that self-consciously tests the boundaries and relations among the verbal and visual arts.

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