The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the Gund Gallery a $100,000 grant to pilot an artist residency program at Kenyon. The grant is matched by $100,000 from the Gund Gallery Board of Directors and about $50,000 in operating support from the gallery and Kenyon. This $250,000 program will embed prominent contemporary artists in non-arts disciplines during the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 academic years. Collaborating faculty members will partner with visiting artists to teach students in select science, social science and humanities courses while producing new work that will be exhibited and possibly collected by the Gund Gallery.
“It was immediately clear to the board that the grant presented an opportunity to greatly expand and jumpstart a robust array of formal and informal learning opportunities at Kenyon,” said David Horvitz ’74 H’98, chair of the gallery’s board of directors. “Few projects, or the grants that make them possible, so thoroughly address so many categories of an organization’s mission.”
“This Mellon Foundation grant promises exciting opportunities for Kenyon students across all disciplines,” President Sean Decatur said. “This new program will build on the success of the Gund Gallery in integrating its world-class, thematic exhibitions into all aspects of our curriculum.”
While in residence, visiting artists will actively intersect with fine arts faculty members, students and community members through a variety of class visits, gallery talks and day-to-day interactions.
Since its dedication in the fall of 2011, Gund Gallery’s mission has been to celebrate art as a critical centerpiece of Kenyon’s liberal arts mission and the community by championing the best art and artists of the 20th and 21st centuries via an active exhibition schedule, expanding permanent collection, and formal and informal learning experiences. In the past two academic years, more than 50 percent of Kenyon’s faculty members representing a range of disciplines have engaged in a curricular or mission-oriented activity with the Gund Gallery. Museum resources — thematic exhibitions, collection objects, film screenings, gallery talks and other programs — have impacted the learning experiences of more than 40 percent of students.
“Our grant joins a long history of Mellon Foundation support of academic museums and uniquely embeds artists and artistic practice in disciplines not ordinarily associated with them; disciplines which intellectually inspire many contemporary artists,” Gund Gallery Director Natalie Marsh said. “This grant brings the inspiration full circle by allowing resident contemporary artists to inspire the students and faculty in the humanities and sciences.”
A committee composed of Gund Gallery professionals and Kenyon faculty members will select the resident artists and collaborating faculty members to support the grant. The committee is co-chaired by Laurie Finke, chair and professor of women’s and gender studies, and Marsh. Other committee members include Yutan Getzler, associate professor of chemistry, Tabitha Payne, associate professor of psychology, and Christopher Yates, assistant director of the Gund Gallery.
“This grant builds on interdisciplinary conversations about the role of visual literacy across the curriculum that followed the College’s last reaccreditation,” Finke said. “It allows the College to realize some of the goals the faculty set in those conversations, in particular demonstrating how the arts can contribute to student learning in a variety of different disciplines. It will be exciting to see the kinds of pedagogical collaborations that result.”