The artwork of women photographers, Cuban photographers and anti-establishment artists of the 1960s and 1970s is on exhibit at the Gund Gallery.
Gund Gallery Associates curated three exhibitions from pieces already in the museum’s collection and some that are promised gifts from Gund Gallery Board Member David Horvitz ’74 and his wife Francie Bishop Good. Several of the student interns selected artwork, researched artists, wrote labels and designed exhibition layouts, while others wrote, designed and produced catalogs for each exhibition.
Gund Gallery Director Natalie Marsh said, “These exhibitions really exemplify our model of starting interns in August with a set of objects from our collection and asking them to research and contextualize them and then curate thoughtful exhibitions from those pieces.”
“Rhythmic Light: Contemporary Cuban Photography by Arien Chang Castán and Leysis Quesada Vera” shows the work of Cuban photographers who allegorically recreate the unique rhythms of everyday Cuban life on the street and in the countryside. They compose a rich vernacular image of life suspended in an ambiguous historical moment between the dreams of the country’s revolutionary history and an uncertain future of socio-economic change. It runs through April 19.
“Smash the control images: Idiosyncratic Visions in Late Century American Art” looks at a period of drastic social change in America, when artists began materializing their own idiosyncratic visions against the background of the Vietnam and Cold Wars, racial inequality, drug culture and protest movements. This exhibition includes Gund Gallery collection works by Claes Oldenburg, Corita Kent, Roy Dean DeForest, William T. Wiley, Don Nice, David James Gilhooly and others who share an anti-establishment agenda. It also runs through April 19.
“Stories of Self-Reflection: Portraiture by Women Photographers” highlights gifts to the Gund Gallery collection of photographic portraiture by Claire Beckett ’00, Helen Levitt and Vivian Maier. Often portraying the trajectory of childhood and adolescence, these images capture the liminal stages of life and expose moments of self-creation by the artists and their subjects. It runs through August 5.
Faculty members from five different Kenyon departments will use these exhibitions to enhance their curricula during their spring courses, and faculty members from the studio art, American studies, modern languages and literatures and sociology departments will participate in public programs based on these exhibitions.
“Other institutions might have a small student-curated exhibition in a glass case somewhere, and that is the end goal of their intern’s process,” Marsh said. “Here the student-curated exhibitions are part of an ecosystem — a cycle of use in which the students’ research for an exhibition actually might be new to a professor who then adds it to their syllabi for future coursework or uses it during the remaining weeks of the semester.”
Associates at the Gund Gallery are Kenyon students who get career experience by undertaking behind-the-scenes operations, curatorial research, collection management and educational outreach. There are 60 associates this year.
Marsh pointed to another metric of success: “The promised gifts in these exhibitions had no planned date for donation, but because of the excitement of the donors in lending them for these projects, they have determined that almost all of these pieces should remain here and immediately enter our collection for the use of students and faculty.”
The museum is also currently exhibiting a series of portraits of adolescent girls and women by Rania Matar, a Lebanese-Palestinian-American photographer who was a Mellon Foundation artist in residence at the Gund last year and who was just named a Guggenheim fellow. Her photographs of Kenyon students, faculty and community members in the surrounding countryside grew into a series that includes striking photos taken in suburban New England and the streets of Beirut, all without the aid of additional light sources or a tripod.
Gund Gallery exhibitions and programs are made possible, in part, by the Gund Gallery Board of Directors and the Ohio Arts Council.