Meet our Summer Think Tank Guests for August

We have had an amazing group of people join us in June and July and we are very excited to announce our August participants for the Lunder Institute for American Art Summer Think Tank. In July, we welcomed a cohort of performance artists, celebrated Ossorio Fellow, Paula Wilson, and a group of visual artists, museum leaders, and art organization leaders.

Our August Chef in Residence is Dave Mallari who will host and curate supper clubs for our Summer Think Tank participants during the month.

In the first week of August, we welcome conversations around museum programs and performance.  Ed Patuto, Director of Audience Engagement at the Broad will be joined by Limor Tomer, Live Arts General Manager at The Met, Performing Arts Curator, Administrator & Fundraiser.

The following week, we’ll host scholar, curator and critic, Tiffany Barber along with artist, Kandis Wiliams. They will engage in discussion around the Black aesthetic and feminism.  In our final week of the Summer Think Tank, we will be joined by curators and scholars, Bridget Cooks and Robert Cozzolino who will ground us in their thoughts, theories and work to address centering Blackness and the Black experience in American art.

Since we started in early June, the Summer Think Tank has fostered insightful and amazing discussions around creative practice and American identities and experiences. We look forward to concluding our program with grounding conversations about the future landscape of American Art.

Though the conversations are not open to the general public, each will be recorded and preserved in an oral history archive for researchers to access.

Summer Think Tank: Spotlight on Performance Art

As a highlight of our inaugural Summer Think Tank: _______American 2023 The Lunder Institute for American Art is pleased to welcome a cohort of six performance artists: Ayana Evans, Tsedaye Makonnen, Dominique Duroseau, Nyugen Smith, M. Lamar, and Eleanor Kipping.

Performance Art takes center stage in contemporary art with many influential Black artists leading the charge, and we are excited to be in conversation with several of these groundbreaking artists over the next few weeks.

With the guidance, advisement, and support of pioneer and influential artist, Lorraine O’Grady, and her trusted colleague and collaborator, artist Sur Rodney, our invited artists will workshop and incubate a performance piece using one of O’Grady’s never before published or shared scores.

This is a very special moment for the Lunder Institute and we can’t wait to be a part of what’s developed and workshopped by the performance artists at the Greene Block + Studios and to see what directions it will lead to beyond our SummerThinkTank. Our sincere gratitude to Lorraine O’Grady and Sur Rodney for their generosity.

Meet our Summer Think Tank Guests for July

We have had an amazing group of people join us in June and we are very excited to announce our July participants for the Lunder Institute for American Art Summer Think Tank. In July, we welcome a cohort of six performance artists, Ayana Evans, Tsedaye Makonnen, Dominique Duroseau, Nyugen Smith, M. Lamar, and Eleanor Kipping, who with the guidance, advisement, and support of pioneer and influential artist, Lorraine O’Grady, and her trusted colleague and collaborator, artist, Sur Rodney, will workshop and incubate a performance piece, using one of O’Grady’s never published or shared scores. This is a very special moment for the Lunder Institute and we can’t wait to be a part of what’s developed and workshopped by the performance artists at GB+S and to see what directions it will lead to beyond the summer think tank. This amazing group is a product of a collaboration with O’Grady and Rodney, and we are grateful to them both.

In July, we also welcome back current Ossorio Fellow, Paula Wilson, who is currently featured in Ashley Bryan / Paula Wilson: Take the World into Your Arms,  a two person exhibition at the The Joan Dignam Schmaltz Gallery of Art at the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, Downtown Waterville through the end of July. Paula will be part of a conversation with Daniel Minter and Virgil Ortiz facilitated by Colby Museum Director Jackie Terassa during the 2023 Summer Luncheon hosted by the museum. Paula Wilson will also present a talk and walk-through of her exhibition on July 7th. (Space is limited, and RSVP is required.)

We are also pleased to co-host First Fridays at Green Block & Studios this Friday July 7 where all are welcome to join Lunder Institute for American Art summer fellows and senior fellow Paula Wilson for a party featuring Central Maine’s premiere DJs.

Later in the month we have Kelli Morgan and Xaviera Simmons in conversation, as well as Joy Bivins, Micha Brodnax, and the two founders of the Black Lunch Table, Jina Valentine and Heather Hart.

Our July Chef in Residence for July is chef Jordan Benissan, who will be hosting supper clubs throughout the month. Learn more about our chefs in residence program here.

Artist Dell Marie Hamilton will also join us this month, and we are also pleased to announce the addition of Diedrick Brackens, TK Smith, and Abram Jackson, who will join us for a conversation at the end of the month.

Many voices, many insights and many contributions make up the Lunder Institute for American Art Summer, Think Tank and we are so pleased, proud and excited to share with you.

For more information and to learn more click here.

See What’s Cooking with Our New Chefs in Residence Program

Since launching the pilot of the Lunder Institute for American Arts chefs in residence program in April, the Lunder Institute has hosted four supper clubs for artists, staff, and students. Our most recent supper club, held on the ground floor of Greene Block + Studios served to welcome three new resident fellows to the Lunder Institute.

It was a beautiful evening where we dined alfresco with an amazing menu based on On the Steps: Race Track by Guy Pène du Bois, a work chef Louis Pickens chose from the Colby College Museum of Art’s collection. As the summer continues chef Louis Pickens, chef Jordan Bennisan, and chef Dave Mallari will continue to offer supper clubs each week for all of our think tank guests, as well as other collaborators and members of our community. The conversations that have taken place, have been rich, and varied, and covered topics beyond art, but always inspired by art. During the Summer Think Tank, all supper club conversations will be recorded for the Lunder Institute archive. These unique experiences are proving very popular, and exceptionally enjoyable.

Meet our Summer Think Tank Guests for June

The Lunder Institute for American Art is pleased to announce the first round of participants in our Summer Think Tank: ______ American 2023.

Over ten weeks, the Summer Think Tank will foster discussions around creative practice and American identities and experiences. The first of these conversations will kick off in June and involve Visiting Mentor artists Mildred Howard (invited guests: Devin Malone and Delphine Sims) and William Cordova (invited guests: Robert Pruitt and Nathaniel Donnett). 

This cohort will then join Lunder Institute summer 2023 resident fellows, Genevieve Gaignard and Papay Solomon, and their chosen guests, Kenny Rivero and Liat Yossifor.

In keeping with our goal to provide a safe and fertile space for participants, we intentionally invited artists to select other artists and peers in the field to engage with other invitees as well as with Colby Museum staff, students, and faculty.   Our hope is that these new conversations will also introduce ideas and methods of addressing how and why the state of American art, with relation to Black artists, producers, scholars, and practitioners whose work intersects and/or influences American art, can lead us to innovations in the field. 

As a unique incubator of research and practice, the Lunder Institute seeks to offer a platform for field-wide discussion, supporting, fostering, documenting, and sharing the knowledge and new questions that emerge.

Later through the month, one of our chefs in residence, Chef Louis Pickens, will return and join Summer Think Tank guests for a series of curated supper clubs and discussions inspired by art and the culture of food.

Though the conversations are not open to the general public, each will be recorded and preserved in an oral history archive for researchers to access.

Introducing the Lunder Institute Summer Think Tank

Throughout the summer of 2023, the Colby College Museum of Art’s Lunder Institute for American Art will host the first in what is planned to be an annual convening, The Lunder Institute for American Art Summer Think Tank: __________ American 2023.

From June through August at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, the Lunder Institute will host more than 30 thought partners across disciplines to be in conversation with one another about urgent questions and topics relevant in American art, with particular attention to the ways in which Blackness and the Black experience are central to American art, its history and its future.

The goal of the Summer Think Tank is to provide a safe and fertile space for participants and the freedom to engage with other invitees as well as with Colby Museum staff, students, and faculty. These conversations will also introduce ideas and methods of addressing how and why the state of American art, with relation to Black artists, producers, scholars, and practitioners whose work intersects and/or influences American art, can lead us to innovations in the field. As a unique incubator of research and practice, the Lunder Institute seeks to offer a platform for field-wide discussion, supporting, fostering, documenting, and sharing the knowledge and new questions that emerge.

“One of the most distinctive and radical aspects of the Lunder Institute for American Art’s Summer Think Tank is its openness,” said Jacqueline Terrassa, Carolyn Muzzy Director of the Colby Museum.

“Rather than direct the conversation, our role is to be an incubator and to convene. The Lunder Institute offers a unique space for those working at the leading edges of the field of American art to ask their own questions and explore practices and ideas, building relationships across generations and, in the process, moving us all forward in our understanding of what American art means today.”

Learn more about this exciting new pilot program and this year’s participants.

Image: Romare Bearden, City of Brass, 1965. Photostat and gouache on board mounted on panel, 29 in. x 40 in. (73.66 cm x 101.6 cm). The Lunder Collection; 2012.330. Art © Romare Bearden Foundation, Inc./Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

Meet Our Summer 2023 Resident Fellows

The Lunder Institute for American Art is excited to welcome a new cohort of resident fellows to take up residence in Waterville for a summer of collaboration and community building.

Established in 2021, Lunder Institute residential fellowships provide artists with spacious studios as well as opportunities for collaboration with Colby College faculty, students, and staff, the Waterville community, and the Maine arts community. This studio program, based out of the Greene Block + Studios in downtown Waterville, Maine, encompasses artists at all stages of their careers and working in a range of artistic disciplines and mediums. Resident fellows are provided with housing and a stipend, have access to Colby College campus facilities, and are in dialogue with local organizations and community members.

This summer, resident fellows will also engage with our chefs in residence and participate in the Lunder Institute’s inaugural Summer Think Tank program, a new initiative aimed at providing a safe and fertile space for invited guests, including artists, scholars, and other thought leaders and cultural workers to be in conversation about relevant and urgent questions and topics in the field of American art. 

Joining the program this year are Genevieve Gaignard, a multidisciplinary artist who uses self-portraiture, collage, sculpture and installation to elicit dialogue around the intricacies of race, beauty and cultural identity, and Papay Solomon, a visual artist who marshals the language of portraiture to complexify African narratives beyond dominant discourses.

Learn more about this group of artists and read their bios on our Summer 2023 Resident Fellows page.

Image: Genevieve Gaignard (left) and Papay Solomon.

Oscar Santillán on Art and AI

On Monday, April 10, the Colby College Museum of Art’s Lunder Institute for American Art presented a panel discussion to culminate the work of Lunder Institute senior fellow Oscar Santillán.

As one of five awardees of the Holt/Smithson Foundation’s grant prize to create a project around Little Island, Santillán discussed his work with Colby undergraduate research assistants, in collaboration with the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence, to bring his project to fruition.

Joining the panel were Lisa Le Feuvre, executive director of the Holt/Smithson Foundation, to share more about the origin of the award, Little Island’s history, the other selected artists, as well as her work and highlights with Oscar over the course of their collaboration.

Amanda Stent, director of the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence, also joined the discussion, along with Erica Wall, Lunder Institute director.

Taryn D. Jordan and Bryant Terry Dish on Food Justice

On Monday evening, April 3, Taryn D. Jordan, professor of women’s studies at Colgate University, joined chef, food justice activist, artist, critically acclaimed author, and community builder Bryant Terry for a conversation about food inequality, Black food, and history.

Terry fights for a more just and sustainable food system. His work illuminates the intersections that exist between poverty, structural racism, and food insecurity, in order to pave a new path forward. In his new book Black Food, he offers a stunning and deeply heartfelt tribute to Black culinary ingenuity, capturing the broad and divergent voices of the African Diaspora in a way that’s never been done before.

This event was part of the Colby Center for the Arts and Humanities’ annual theme, Food for Thought, which seeks to problematize and critically assess the complex social, cultural, environmental, political relationships we have with food.

This program was sponsored by the Colby Center for the Arts and Humanities with support from the African American studies department, the Colby Arts Office, the Cultural Events Committee, the Colby College Museum of Art’s Lunder Institute for American Art, the Office of the President, and the Office of the Provost. 

Chef/Restaurant Career Path Webinar

As a kickoff to its pilot chef in residence program, the Lunder Institute for American Art is partnering with DavisConnects to present a webinar for Colby students and others interested in careers in the culinary arts.

On Thursday, April 6, 7–8 pm, spend an hour with four accomplished chefs to learn more about what it takes to pursue a career as a chef or restauranteur. This virtual event will include introductory remarks by each panelist, opening questions about each chef’s individual path, and an opportunity for attendees to ask questions.

The four panelists are:

Jordan Benissan, chef and owner of Mé Lon Togo, a West African themed restaurant in Rockland, Maine.

Dave Mallari, chef and owner of the Sinful Kitchen in Portland, Maine, and a former Chopped contestant.

Louis Pickens, chef and owner of Black Betty’s Bistro, a catering kitchen and restaurant based in Portland, Maine.

Ben Wexler-Waite, a Colby College alumnus and chef-owner of Il Leone, a seasonal, outdoor pizzeria located on Peaks Island, Maine.

Join live via Zoom.

Art + AI: Panel Discussion with Oscar Santillán

Greene Block + Studios
Monday, April 10, 6–7pm

The Lunder Institute for American Art is pleased to present a panel discussion to culminate the work of Lunder Institute senior fellow Oscar Santillán.
As one of five awardees of the Holt/Smithson Foundation’s grant prize to create a project around Little Island, Santillán will discuss and present his work with Colby undergraduate research assistants, in collaboration with the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence, to bring his project to fruition.
Joining the panel will be Lisa Le Feuvre, executive director of the Holt/Smithson Foundation, to share more about the origin of the award, Little Island’s history, the other selected artists, as well as her work and highlights with Oscar over the course of their collaboration.
Amanda Stent, director of the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence, will also be part of the discussion, along with Erica Wall, Lunder Institute director, who will facilitate the discussion.
Come and learn more about the work of Lunder Institute senior fellows, and the impact their work can have across multiple disciplines.
For those unable to attend in person, this even will also be livestreamed at colby.edu/livestream.

Lunder Institute Announces Chef in Residence Program

The Lunder Institute for American art is excited to announce a pilot chef in residence program. Acknowledging the impact of the culinary arts within the art world, and Colby’s unique position, both figuratively and literally, to the superior culinary community that exists in Maine and, specifically, Portland, the Lunder Institute seeks to create opportunities to engage with culinary artists around food, it’s making, its origin, its impact, and its influence.

The Lunder Institute is committed to acknowledging, exploring, and representing the broadest understanding and reflection of American art. This unique opportunity allows our campus community, as well as the wider Waterville community, to understand the greater relationship between food and its culture in American art, and how that relationship impacts the ways we understand our American history, our history with food, our history with the land, and the history between the cultures and people of America.

­Starting in April, the Lunder Institute will invite three culinary artists—Jordan Benissan, chef and owner of Mé Lon Togo, a West African themed restaurant in Rockland, Maine, Dave Mallari, chef and owner of the Sinful Kitchen in Portland, Maine, and a former Chopped contestant, and Louis Pickens, chef and owner of Black Betty’s Bistro, a catering kitchen and restaurant based in Portland, Maine—to present a supper club featuring dishes inspired by a work from the Colby College Museum of Art’s American art collection. Each artist will spend a week in residence in preparation for an evening for 12 strangers to share in food, conversation, and community.

The Lunder Institute will partner with DavisConnects, Colby’s career center, to offer more discussion around pathways within the food industry and the culinary arts and will offer a panel, on April 6 to introduce the three Lunder Institute chefs in residence to the community and to learn more about their practice, their career paths, and their work.

The Lunder Institute for American art will invite these three chefs back during the summer to offer supper clubs and participate in the Lunder Institute for American Art Summer Think Tank: ____________ American 2023. During this time, the chefs will interact with thought partners across disciplines, within the arts and beyond, to further the discourse around the relationship between the culinary arts, the history of food, land history and ownership, farming, and how that has impacted and influenced art practice for generations.

Image (Left to Right): Dave Mallari, Jordan Benissan, and Louis Pickens. 

Bryant Terry in Conversation with Dr. Taryn Jordan

Greene Block + Studios, 18 Main Street, Waterville
Monday, April 3, 6:30–7:30pm

Join chef, food justice activist, artist, critically acclaimed author, and community builder Bryant Terry for a conversation with Taryn D. Jordan, professor of women’s studies at Colgate University, about food inequality, Black food, and history.

Terry fights for a more just and sustainable food system. His work illuminates the intersections that exist between poverty, structural racism, and food insecurity, in order to pave a new path forward. In his new book Black Food, he offers a stunning and deeply heartfelt tribute to Black culinary ingenuity, capturing the broad and divergent voices of the African Diaspora in a way that’s never been done before.

This event is part of the Colby Center for the Arts and Humanities’ annual theme, Food for Thought, which seeks to problematize and critically assess the complex social, cultural, environmental, political relationships we have with food.

Local food vendors will be on-hand provide food for this event.

This program is sponsored by the Colby Center for the Arts and Humanities with support from the African American studies department, the Colby Arts Office, the Cultural Events Committee, the Colby College Museum of Art’s Lunder Institute for American Art, the Office of the President, and the Office of the Provost. 

Watch Genevieve Gaignard and Jon Gray in Conversation

On March 16, 2023, multidisciplinary artist Genevieve Gaignard, a spring 2023 resident fellow at the Lunder Institute for American Art, and Jon Gray, multidisciplinary curator and co-founder of the culinary collective Ghetto Gastro joined Lunder Institute director Erica Wall for a conversation about their artistic practice.

As longtime friends and colleagues, Gaignard and Gray each work in their own ways to “Change the Conversation,” seeking to shift social and historical narratives around such subjects as race and identity through innovation across mediums.

Jon Gray is a curator, entrepreneur, and co-founder of the Bronx-born culinary collective Ghetto Gastro. Gray aims to shift social narratives, blending a background in fashion to create immersive experiences, product design, and unique storytelling. From Co-Op City, Gray’s mother and grandmother taught him about the arts and challenged him to innovate as a way of life. When a rebellious adolescence almost put him behind bars, Gray used the experience to imagine a greater vision for himself. Inventorying his passions and pastimes, he made Bronx-driven gastro-diplomacy his career and mission.

In 2019, Gray delivered his noteworthy TED Talk, “The next big thing is coming from the Bronx, again.” Gray is a Civic Practice Partnership Artist in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2021, he served as guest curator at the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, where “Jon Gray of Ghetto Gastro Selects” featured an Afrofuturist theme. He is an avid art collector and people connector.

Genevieve Gaignard (b.1981) is a multidisciplinary artist who uses self-portraiture, collage, sculpture, and installation to elicit dialogue around the intricacies of race, beauty, and cultural identity. Referencing regional and historical events, as well as a personal archive as a biracial woman, Gaignard creates environments that teeter between symbolic and autobiographical realms. She cleverly interrogates notions of skin privilege while challenging viewers to look more closely at racial realities. The ensemble of her work shatters viewers’ perceptions of culture and race, compelling them to piece together novel ways of perceiving the world and their place in it.

Since 2019, Gaignard has debuted six solo exhibitions and participated in numerous countrywide group shows. Last year, she presented two solo exhibitions: To Whom it May Concern with Rowan University Art Gallery and Strange Fruit with Vielmetter Los Angeles. Gaignard’s work has appeared at: The Broad, CA; The Nerman Museum, KS; Stephen Friedman Gallery, UK; The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, TX; The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; The Getty Center, CA; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, MA; and Prospect.4, LA. In July 2022, Gaignard partnered with Orange Barrel Media on Look At Them Look At Us: a permanent, site-specific public art installation in downtown Atlanta. Gaignard received her bachelor of fine arts in photography from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and her master of fine arts in photography from Yale University. She splits her time between her hometown of Orange, Mass, and Los Angeles.

First Friday, Downtown Waterville: Lunder Institute Open Studios

Meet the current cohort of Lunder Institute for American Art resident fellows at the Greene Block + Studios. This semester’s fellows are Tessa Greene O’Brien, a painter and curator, Dylan Hausthor, a photographer and printmaker, and Heather Flor Cron, a farmer, performer, and artist. Come and talk to these artists about their work and see their in-progress art. This program is part of the monthly First Friday offerings across downtown Waterville.

First Fridays celebrate the vibrant creativity of Waterville by inviting people downtown to engage in multidisciplinary arts experiences. On the first Friday of every month, visit downtown Waterville to meet artists, participate in workshops, listen to live music, eat delicious local food, and come together as a community. To learn more, visit the Waterville Creates website.

Tessa Greene O’Brien with a recent painting. Photography by Amanda Mao, Class of 2026.