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Letter from the Director: Summer 2007

Hood Quarterly, summer 2007
Brian Kennedy, Director

Summer 2007 sees the biggest art installation at Dartmouth College since the unveiling of José Clemente Orozco’s The Epic of American Civilization, completed between 1932 and 1934. Orozco’s fresco cycle had been planned as the beginning of a series of major art works on campus but instead generated huge controversy, which caused that idea to dissipate. The new installation by Wenda Gu, the distinguished Chinese artist who now lives in America but maintains active studios in China, is a response to Orozco’s utopian vision, seventy-five years later, and part of the Hood Museum of Art’s strategy for commissioning contemporary art projects on campus, outside of the museum walls. It represents a most successful collaboration between the Dartmouth College Library and the Hood Museum of Art. We thank Jeffrey Horrell, Dean of Libraries, and all of his colleagues for the trust, support, and commitment they have shown to this intervention within their premises. Any project involving the hair from forty-two thousand hair cuts, made into screens and miles of colored braid, is ambitious in the extreme. We hope that the project will raise questions about, among other things, contemporary art itself, the implications of hair, the United Nations, and the continuing growth of nationalism amid globalization. Within the Hood, Wenda Gu will have an installation on the theme of Tang Dynasty poetry, a beautiful and quiet display to contrast with his project in Baker-Berry Library.

Our current strategic plan calls for greater visibility for the Hood Museum of Art, ever more effective use of our collections, and interventions of contemporary art outside of the museum. These initiatives respond to the requests made of me by James Wright, President of Dartmouth College, to provide works of art in unexpected places, and by Barry Scherr, Provost, to provide transformative experiences through engagements with works of art. Their strong leadership has encouraged the commission of Wenda Gu’s installation and demonstrates the current enthusiasm for the inspirational possibilities of works of art on the Dartmouth campus.

American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, curated by Barbara MacAdam, Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art, is the first in a series of exhibitions that we propose to hold annually within the coming years. It is the largest collection of the Hood’s works of American art that has ever been displayed, and it is accompanied by a significant illustrated catalogue. Both the exhibition and the catalogue are a tribute to the scholarship and curatorship of Bonnie MacAdam over more than twenty years at the Hood Museum of Art.

Our other exhibitions this season range from the powerful but delicate ceramic objects made by Kenyan-born artist Magdalene Odundo to the splendid collection of works of European art from our distinguished New Hampshire colleague museum, the Currier Museum of Art, which is undergoing a major and most exciting refurbishment. We thank Susan Strickler, Director of the Currier Museum of Art, and her colleagues for making such remarkable works from the Currier collection available to us. We trust that all of these exhibitions and accompanying programs will provide an exciting summer for our many visitors. Please enjoy them.

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