While students settle onto their couches for the Thanksgiving break, Susanna White is at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, touring its new American wing with fellow members of Hamilton’s museum planning committee. As both a committee member and the associate director and curator of Hamilton’s Emerson Gallery, White is involved in arts on the Hill at a very exciting time.
This fall, White has had the opportunity to organize the gallery’s exhibitions of Stations, Revelations & The Holy Artwork, exploring the topic of religion from three distinct angles. Stations displays seven pairs of objects, each pair selected to prompt a question of both religious and artistic importance. For instance, the first station examines two artists’ intentions in creating two distinct objects — was it devotional, commercial or both? Revelations then employs the College’s archives of communal societies to examine how the exhibition context of a gallery transforms the significance of an isolated artifact from a religious, communal society. The final exhibition, a video installation of German multimedia artist Christian Jankowski’s The Holy Artwork, projects the intermingling of religion and popular culture in a televised service exploring the artwork as sermon and the artist as creative rather than creator.
White relishes the dialogue Stations, Revelations & The Holy Artwork has inspired on campus, especially her own reflection on the field. “Every time a faculty member or a student comes to work with me, I learn something new about the art history field and collecting,” she says. As she prepares for the spring showings, White looks forward to the exhibitions, community dialogues and teaching opportunities that will develop with the building of the College’s new Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, part of the recently announced Bicentennial Initiatives campaign.