The Colby College Museum of Art announced today that Erica Wall will become the new director of the Lunder Institute for American Art. A creative, collaborative, and dynamic educator, curator and arts leader, Wall brings extensive community-building experience to Colby, where she will advance the mission of the Lunder Institute as a leading incubator and convener of scholarship and artistic practice in ways that evolve how American art is understood and how it is studied, taught, interpreted, and made.
Wall comes to Waterville from North Adams, Mass., where she serves as executive director of MCLA Arts and Culture at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Prior experience included founding a gallery that gave emerging artists the opportunity to exhibit their work, connected them with curators and patrons long-term, and enabled them to build an artistic community and a framework of support. She has also served as a museum educator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Crocker Art Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
She begins her new position with the Lunder Institute July 1.
Jacqueline Terrassa, Carolyn Muzzy Director of the Colby College Museum of Art, said that Wall will grow the Lunder Institute and further connect it with the field of American art and contemporary art more broadly, emphasizing principles of access and equity. She also will help Colby continue its effort to integrate and expand the arts across the campus, involving students in national and global conversations about art and the key questions of our time. With research, convening, and studio space in downtown Waterville at the Greene Block + Studios, the Lunder Institute is informed by place, and works in collaboration and in community as it seeks to expand who shapes American art and alters its contours, while demonstrating the value of art as a public good.
“I am thrilled that Erica will now lead the Lunder Institute and become a member of the Colby Museum’s senior team,” Terrassa said.
“Erica looks beyond the conventional to ask harder questions that have not been asked. She then partners responsively to create the proof of concept–programs and platforms that sustain artists, curators, scholars, students, educators, and others to not only see what is possible, but to forge relationships and pursue pathways that sustain their work and a life in the arts.”
Wall will bring that same ethos and strategy to the Lunder Institute, Terrassa said. She will work in partnership with other museum staff, students, faculty, and peers across the College, and with partners in Maine as well as nationally and internationally, to propel and document new ways of understanding art history, new forms of artistic practice, and new models of teaching and curating American art.
Wall arrives at Colby during a time of artistic momentum on campus and in the community. The Greene Block + Studios opened last fall in downtown Waterville, the Paul J. Schupf Art Center is under construction and will open early next year, also downtown, and the Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts will open on campus in fall 2023.
As part of its work, the Lunder Institute convenes artists, scholars, educators, and cultural producers at different stages in their careers. It hosts fellowships, workshops, and public programs and connects artists and scholars with faculty, students, and communities. Fellows, Distinguished Scholars, and Visiting Artists have included Richard Blanco, Phong Bui, Adriane Childs, Romi Crawford, David Park Curry, Torkwase Dyson, Theaster Gates, Adrienne Herman, Jessica Horton, Key Jo Lee, Maya Lin, Dread Scott, Sarah Sockbeson, David Hamilton Thomson, Veronica Perez, and many others.
Conceived as a research and creative arm of the Colby Museum, the Lunder Institute was established in 2017 through the generosity of Peter and Paula Lunder, longtime benefactors of the College, the Colby Museum, and the field of American art. It builds on the Colby Museum’s strengths which, since the founding of the museum in 1959, have included an emphasis on American art, the active involvement of living artists and scholars, its role as a broad resource in Central Maine and the field of art, and its commitment to research, education and access within the context of Coby’s liberal arts mission.
Wall said she was eager to begin her work with the Lunder Institute.
“I am excited and honored to lead an institute that provides the community the opportunity to engage in the discussions and explorations that celebrate, challenge, and illuminate the many layers of American art, its past, its present, and its future,” she said.
“I look forward to expanding my work as a collaborator, convenor, and community builder to create a national and global community around the amazing work the Lunder Institute has done and has yet to do.”
In her current position, Wall has been instrumental in building MCLA Arts and Culture into a nexus for artists, students, faculty, and community members. Its activities include artist residences, a contemporary art gallery in downtown North Adams, and arts-centered collaborations that have included partnerships with Williams College, MASS MoCA, the Clark Institute of Art, and Bennington College. She also has taught as an adjunct professor, continuing a teaching practice at the undergraduate and graduate level that spans more than two decades.