As we kick off 2022, I am grateful for community. I work with exceptional colleagues at the Wellin Museum and at Hamilton College, where college leadership made it possible for operations to continue throughout the last year, leading with empathy, compassion, and a clear vision. During this time, our students have continued to show tremendous resilience.
We are starting the year with a group of Hamilton students collaborating on a print-based mural alongside artist Yashua Klos, whose first solo museum exhibition OUR LABOUR will open at the Wellin on February 12. The students are bringing their energy and skill to this work which will debut in the exhibition. The project was made possible by a grant from the Daniel W. Dietrich ’64 Fund for Innovation in the Arts, awarded through the Dean of Faculty Office, and facilitated by collaborations with the art and theatre departments, and the Alexander Hamilton letterpress studio. Our community has made this endeavor possible.
As we look forward to this show and a celebration of the Wellin Museum’s 10-year anniversary this coming fall with the collection exhibition Dialogues Across Disciplines as well as many other activities to mark the museum’s first decade, I am grateful to the community of alumni who continue to support the Wellin through the launch of the Wellin Museum Match. This campaign, led by two donors, offers to match gifts in support of the Director’s Discretionary Fund for access and exploration. This fund will allow us to be responsive to the immediate needs of the museum and give us the flexibility to do so. Please consider supporting this campaign.
Looking back on my last blog post at the close of 2020, I am reminded of how far we’ve come in the past year. Vaccinations have allowed us to gather safely, to welcome back artists, critics, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members, and to collaborate with our colleagues in person. Despite the challenges and setbacks, the Wellin Museum and Hamilton College have returned to life. It has proven our adaptability and brought us closer together.
As the situation continued to evolve throughout 2021, we were able to welcome the artist Michael Rakowitz and guest curator Katherine D. Alcauskas to the museum at the end of the run of Michael Rakowitz: Nimrud in June to see the show in person for the first time and to meet with students, staff, and faculty. In fall 2021, the exhibition Sarah Oppenheimer: Sensitive Machine, featuring 4 interactive works, reminded us of the value of collaboration, community, and the power of touch. Fifty-six courses (924 students) engaged with this exhibition and the Wellin collection in person through class visits throughout the semester. We welcomed such wide-ranging disciplines as anthropology, art, art history, dance, French, history, literature, music, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, theater, and women's and gender studies. Our faculty members have been incredible collaborators.
Additionally, this past fall we hosted twenty community programs for students, staff, and faculty drawing 550 participants including art-making events, art yoga, artist and faculty roundtables, student-curated collection events and lectures, musical performances, and a dance production by students in Elaine Heekin’s choreography class created in response to and performed within the Sarah Oppenheimer show. We also hosted in-person and virtual lectures and discussions all of which were free and open to the public. We worked tirelessly to respond to the needs of our community and we learned a lot about the value of flexibility. It’s a lesson we will continue to take with us into 2022.
Some media highlights from 2021 include the Wellin featured in the Art21 video profile on artist Michael Rakowitz and an article in Forbes, several fantastic articles on the Sarah Oppenheimer exhibition published in Artforum, ARTnews, The Art Newspaper, and Wallpaper*, as well as a Q&A I did for Hamilton News. We ended the year on a high note with Hyperallergic naming Michael Rakowitz: Nimrud one of the top 10 shows in the US. And our docents have been busy as ever as this end-of-year blog post by Museum Educator and Docent Program Supervisor Marjorie Johnson attests.
Additionally, after several extensions and delays, our Elias Sime: Tightrope show finished its four-venue tour at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto this past fall. Canada's major daily The Globe & Mail named the show a "must-see." I am grateful to the Akron Art Museum, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, and the Royal Ontario Museum for their commitment to the project, overcoming unforeseen obstacles along the way. In the summer of 2021, we hosted a virtual panel with representatives from each institution: Theresa Bembnister, Erin Dziedzic, and Silvia Forni joining me and catalogue contributor Karen Milbourne to discuss those challenges. A recording of that conversation is available to watch on our website here.
I want to take a moment to recognize my extraordinary team at the Wellin Museum: Alex D’Acunto, Chris Harrison, Alexander Jarman, Marjorie Johnson, Valerie Kane, Dick Morgan, Liz Shannon, and Amy Sylvester. They bring such talent, commitment, and good humor to their work—all attributes needed and drawn upon throughout the pandemic.
Thanks also to the students who have collaborated with Yashua Klos to create the large-scale mural that will be part of the Yashua Klos: OUR LABOUR exhibition opening February 12: Emma Berry ’22, Shelly Cao ’23, Madison Hurtgen ’22, Satchel McLaughlin ’22, Irene Park ’23, Jane Taylor ’22, and Chris Tolan ’22.
Further, I personally want to thank you for being a part of the Wellin network. We look forward to continuing to support innovative teaching and learning in 2022 and to welcome you to the Wellin in 2022!