In celebration of its fifth anniversary, the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art is presenting an exhibition of 140 works of art drawn from its permanent collection. Innovative Approaches, Honored Traditions features newly acquired contemporary pieces as well as historic objects from a variety of cultures and eras beginning in approximately 1300 BCE.
Curated by Wellin’s Collection and Exhibitions Specialist Katherine D. Alcauskas, the exhibition will open with a reception on Saturday, Sept. 9, from 4 to 6 p.m. and will be on view through December 10, 2017. The opening and exhibition as well as associated programming is free and open to the public.
Among the new acquisitions are three contemporary artworks created in 2016:
- Elias Sime’s Tightrope, Familiar Yet Complex 2, a bright patchwork of salvaged electronic components that explores the role of technology in today’s society;
- Michelle Grabner’s untitled bronze sculpture cast from a hand-crocheted blanket; and
- Vanessa German’s i will never smile again, a mixed-media sculpture comprised of doll parts, cowrie shells, African beads, and household objects.
The Winter 2017 issue of the Hamilton Alumni Review featured a few pieces from the College’s collection.
Reflecting the museum’s five-year history, a number of works that will be on view were acquired by the Wellin through its exhibition program, such as a photograph by Rhona Bitner, a painting by Yun-Fei Ji, a fiber-based portrait by Karen Hampton, a suite of images by Sharon Lockhart, an assemblage by Renée Stout, and a work on paper by Frohawk Two Feathers.
Historic works in the exhibition include:
- ancient Greek vases,
- glass vessels from the Roman Empire,
- Mesoamerican ceramics, and
- Native American objects of material culture.
The diversity of the exhibition—with mediums ranging from prints and drawings to photographs, sculptures, and paintings—reflects that of the collection itself.
Curator Katherine D. Alcauskas explains, “The show speaks to the Wellin’s mission to develop new exhibitions, support original scholarship, and craft a permanent collection on the cutting edge of the field, while also looking back at Hamilton’s long history of art collecting and rotating exhibitions as well as its educational mission.”
Tracy Adler, Johnson-Pote Director of the Wellin, adds, “Since the Wellin first opened in 2012, we have continued to grow the collection, acquiring 450 works of art through select gifts and purchases, with a specific focus on emerging and mid-career artists, as well as artists who have been historically underrepresented. We are thrilled to now have the opportunity to present these new acquisitions alongside the pivotal works within the collection and to create a narrative that will spark new dialogues across disciplines, inspire experimentation, and foster creative inquiry.”
The show is arranged into six distinct themes, or “lenses,” that reflect Hamilton’s educational goals. These are:
- Investigation | Recognition, presenting works that employ patterns, symbols, and schematics to explore how art can help develop our analytic skills
- Appreciation | Evaluation, focusing on the role of art in promoting our understanding of aesthetic discernment
- Tradition | Inspiration, featuring works that are either indicative of cultural traditions or demonstrate the fluid transfer of ideas between cultures
- Transmission | Articulation, demonstrating how art can shed light on the way we communicate and express ourselves
- Participation | Condition, encompassing works that address social and political concerns including pollution, slavery, poverty, commerce, and war
- Imagination | Invention, examining the power of art to foster creativity, intellectual curiosity, and innovative problem-solving
Saturday, September 9
3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Artists in Conversation: Vanessa German
Artist Vanessa German will be in conversation with exhibition curator Katherine D. Alcauskas followed by a spoken word performance.
Friday, October 20
4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Wellin Collects: A Discussion with William E. Williams
William E. Williams, Class of 1973, Audrey A. and John L. Dusseau Professor in the Humanities at Haverford College, will discuss the significance of a teaching collection to a liberal arts education.
Thursday, November 9
4:15 – 5:00 p.m.
Katherine D. Alcauskas will lead a tour of Innovative Approaches, Honored Traditions