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One Undergraduate’s Hood Experience

Hood Quarterly, spring 2013
Jane Cavalier ’14

Since my freshman year, the Hood Museum of Art has been the cornerstone of my intellectual experience at Dartmouth. The synergy between my interests in research, analysis, and the criticism of art is grounded in curatorial work. Currently working as a junior and senior curatorial intern with Director Michael Taylor, I appreciate this rare opportunity to explore my interests and contribute my own interpretations of the collection to the museum’s inspiring scholarship.

My involvement with the Hood began during my freshman fall as a work-study intern on the museum’s communications team. I was immediately exposed to the animated dialogue that courses throughout the museum in relation to curatorial, educational, and student-related activity and programming, and it drew me into the vibrant life of this Dartmouth institution.

I have since declared myself an art history major and spent numerous class periods with my peers, my professors, and Hood curators in the Bernstein Study-Storage Center, working intensively with objects ranging from John Sloan’s etching Night Windows (1910) to José Clemente Orozco’s underdrawings for his Baker mural. It is during these sessions that I find myself doing what I love most of all—trying to understand the motivations and contexts for artistic invention using a range of interdisciplinary entry points into a given work of art.

My experiences in Bernstein also opened the door for me to publish my art historical research and share my ideas with a wider academic community. This past fall, the Northwestern Art Review published my essay on seventeenth-century Dutch visual culture titled “Sight and Representation: A Process for Visual Discovery in the 17th-Century Netherlands,” which I wrote for a class on northern baroque art taught by Professor Joy Kenseth. It articulates a detailed comparison of two works in the Hood’s collection, Jan Davidsz. de Heem’s Still Life with Grapes (about 1660) and Wenceslaus Hollar’s eight-engraving series Diversae Insectorum Aligerorum (about 1646).

I applied for a museum senior internship as a junior because I intend to write an honors thesis in art history, and I will always be thankful to the Hood for the opportunity to step through a door that I have always wanted to open. My experiences working with Michael to research and develop a selection of works from the Hood’s collection for the upcoming exhibition Word and Image, my correspondence with contemporary artists to coordinate loans for exhibitions, and particularly the process of developing my own small exhibition through the Space for Dialogue program have all affirmed my dedication to scholarly curatorial work and my belief that the curator’s dialogue should always work in two directions, with art itself and also with the public. It has been a great honor to work with this collection and with the first-rate scholars and caretakers of Dartmouth’s collective visual history. I am currently developing my Space for Dialogue exhibition on contemporary representations of melancholy by framing Walter Benjamin, Susan Sontag, and Jean Claire’s conceptions of this age-old theme within a contemporary vernacular and looking at how artists explore, interpret, and contextualize melancholy as part of the human condition in the twenty-first century. How is melancholy different today, in other words, than it was when Albrecht Dürer first engraved Melencolia in 1514? How is it the same? I look forward to presenting my exhibition to the Dartmouth community and sharing my interpretation within the walls of this wonderful teaching museum.

Hood Museum