What is the state of American art?
The Colby College Museum of Art’s Lunder Institute for American Art has invited six prominent art institutions across the nation to respond to this question as part of its new initiative, Lunder Institute @.
Starting in February, the de Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco will host the first Lunder Institute @ program, followed by The Broad in Los Angeles, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas, the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, Andover, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and finally, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.
Each institution was asked to respond to the question of the state of American art by having internal conversations across departments and sharing what emerged from these through a public program. This initiative offers space and time to institutions to consider, discuss, and innovatively respond to some of the pressing issues, opportunities, and challenges within the field of American art in relation to their own institution, collection, and location within the United States. Importantly, this work also fosters necessary dialogue within and between institutions.
Practice and methodology are core interests to the Lunder Institute, and that interest extends beyond individuals—artists, scholars, curators, etc.—to institutional practices within the field of American art. As a think tank for the field, and part of a leading academic art museum, the Lunder Institute seeks to provide opportunities and resources for institutions to engage with questions related to American art. A primary goal of this initiative is to promote transparency in the field of American art, beyond public-facing exhibitions and scholarship, to extend that process across each organization, and share a product of that engagement with the public.
These convenings will promote discourse in an open and fertile space leading toward innovation, new areas of exploration, and possible answers to questions that continue to arise around what American art is and what impacts its production, its scholarship, and its research.
The schedule for the six remote Lunder Institute @ programs is:
Lunder Institute @ the de Young Museum
Making America: On Creative Work and Liberatory Practice
San Francisco, February 10, 2024
Examine the state of American art through the lens of radical imagining and collective care. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, in collaboration with the Colby College Museum of Art’s Lunder Institute for American Art, present an afternoon of discussion featuring artists, curators, and interpretation specialists. Together, we will explore the responsibility of art workers in the face of censorship, the aftermath of the reversal of affirmative action, and ongoing assaults on education and freedom of expression. Moving beyond the buzzwords of diversity, equity, access, and inclusion, these discussions will challenge both speakers and visitors to reassess the possibilities of creative work in shaping American life and discourse.
Lunder Institute @ The Broad
The Un-Private Collection: Sayre Gomez + Patrick Martinez + Lynell George
Los Angeles, March 2, 2024
The first Un-Private Collection conversation of 2024 features Desire, Knowledge, and Hope (with Smog) exhibition artists Sayre Gomez and Patrick Martinez, moderated by noted author and native Angelino Lynell George. Gomez and Martinez’s paintings are emblematic of a new generation of artists using the visual language of Los Angeles as inspiration for their creative practice. Martinez’s paintings incorporate architectural elements to indicate and preserve identity and culture for the Latinx community as the landscape of the city changes. Gomez’s artworks portray the passage of time and urban decay that looms over the city through faded signage, as well as the neglected and vacant buildings he encounters. The artists and George will discuss Los Angeles as a creative landscape and how their artworks are shaped by it. Lynell George is a Los Angeles-based journalist, essayist, and author, whose 2020 book A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia E. Butler was a finalist for a Hugo Award.
Lunder Institute @ Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Bite Size Conversations
Bentonville, Arkansas, March 7, 2024
American art is dynamic! Are you curious about how Crystal Bridges thinks about the pressing issues of American Art? How are new directions in American art reflected in our collection? How will multiple perspectives impact our new galleries? Join us for Bite-Size Conversations, a unique program that brings together art, food, and dialogue. Bite-Size Conversations is an evening of short conversations that showcase the work and stories of artists Danielle Hatch, Linda Nguyen Lopez, and Kalyn Barnoski. Each conversation between an artist and a Crystal Bridges curator is paired with a beverage, tasty treat, or creative activity. The curators leading the program include: Alejo Benedetti, Curator of Contemporary Art; Jen Padgett, Windgate Curator of Craft; and Jordan Poorman Cocker, Curator of Indigenous Art.
Lunder Institute @ the Addison Gallery of American Art
Defining American Art: Then and Now Symposium
Andover, Massachusetts, April 7, 2024
The Addison’s founding history provides a snapshot into the state—and stakes—of American art in the 1920s and 30s. This symposium takes the Addison’s own formation as a case study to track evolving notions of American art over the last century, with special attention to questions of citizenship and national identity as they inform the field today. The first panel takes up questions prompted by the Addison’s founding collection (a large part of which will be on view in an accompanying exhibition) and terms of trust. In particular, the panel will reflect on the specification that only works of art “produced by a native-born or naturalized citizen of the United States” can be acquired for the collection: What was the context of and intention behind this definition of American art? How was citizenship defined in this moment, and who was excluded? What exceptions were or have been made to this provision, and why? What is the relationship between nationality, national identity, and American art? The second panel explores issues around the definition of American art in our present moment. How have definitions of American art changed over the past century, and what factors have impacted that notion over time? Data collected from a survey of American art museum collection practices will reveal trends in how institutions delimit the category of “American art,” and panelists will probe the ethics, considerations, and ramifications of enfolding artists with traditionally marginalized cultural affiliations into a pre-existing American art canon. In the lead-up to the program, Andover Academy students will participate in various activities and workshops centered around the key themes of the symposium.
Lunder Institute @ Museum of Fine Arts
New Discourses for Folk and Self-Taught Art
Boston, May 23, 2024
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston will host an in-person, public symposium moderated by Michael J. Bramwell, Joyce Linde Curator of Folk and Self-taught art around the question: “What is the state of American Art?” The symposium will promote discourses around new understandings and reception of Folk and Self-Taught Art for the twenty-first century. Participants include Dr. Gabrielle A. Berlinger, professor of Folklore, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kinshasha H. Conwill, deputy director emerita, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Jori Finkel, New York Times art critic, and Lonnie B. Holley, American artist. The equitable integration of Folk and Self-taught into museums promotes cultural competency by reflecting appreciation of art and people from diverse backgrounds. This idea is central to progressive cultural practice and a socially equitable society. The symposium attempts to raise the profile and positive reception of Folk and Self-taught art, while expanding the MFA Boston’s institutional goal of inclusion, diversity, equity, and access.
Lunder Institute @ the Whitney Museum of American Art
New York City, September 13, 2024 (program description TBD)