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Excavating the Image: Pennsylvania Excavation by George Bellows
Pennsylvania Excavation by George Bellows

Excavating the Image is a new series of annual collaborations between the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute and the Smith College Museum of Art (SCMA). The series will open in January 2012 with a two-day colloquium focusing on an important recent acquisition by the SCMA, the 1907 painting Pennsylvania Excavation by American realist painter George Bellows. This short-term project is now accepting applications for Faculty fellowships. The project is open to Smith and Five College faculty, and it can accept up to 10 Fellows. A description of the project and its schedule appear below.

If you are considering applying, but have additional questions, please feel free to contact the Project Organizer, Ann Musser, via email at amusser@smith.edu.

Interested faculty should email the Kahn Institute’s Director, Rosetta Cohen (rcohen@smith.edu) by December 2, 2011 to apply. In your email, please include the title of the project and explain why you are interested in it, what you would bring to it, and what you hope to gain from it.



PROJECT ORGANIZER:

  Ann Musser, Associate Director, Smith College Museum of Art, Academic Programs and Public Education

Excavating the Image is a new series of annual collaborations between the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute and the Smith College Museum of Art (SCMA). Each year, artwork in the Smith collection will become the centerpiece for a cross-disciplinary discussion involving faculty from a range of departments and experts across various fields. The series will open in January 2012 with a two-day colloquium focusing on an important recent acquisition by the SCMA, the 1907 painting Pennsylvania Excavation by American realist painter George Bellows. (For more information about this new acquisition, visit http://www.smith.edu/news/2009-10/ashcanacquisition.php). The Mead Art Museum and the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, which hold Bellows’s papers, will join the collaboration for this initial colloquium.

Pennsylvania Excavation, which depicts the creation of New York’s Penn Station, is an ideal work for interdisciplinary exploration. Suggested in this arresting work are issues of gender, class, and urbanism. The image opens the way for discussions about history and its depiction, engineering, social and political systems, geology, art history, the technical aspects of painting, and many other topics. What stories might emerge from the muck and snow depicted? What were the political and social forces that framed the construction of the station? What was the significance of the station’s original design, now only visible in remnants beneath newer renovations? How was this painting understood in a context of the Beaux Arts movement of the day? These are just a few of the questions that the project will strive to answer.

The project will combine open-ended, interdisciplinary discussions based on close observation of the painting (including a special opportunity to see the back of the canvas) with presentations of archival materials (including the artist’s private correspondence and critical reviews), as well as at least one formal lecture on turn-of- the-century New York City. The outstanding array of resources available in the region, including images from the SCMA, the Mead Art Museum and the George Wesley Bellows Papers housed at the Amherst College Archives, make this a remarkable opportunity for faculty across many fields.

Interested faculty should email Rosetta Cohen (rcohen@smith.edu), Director of the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute, on or before Friday, December 2, 2011. In your email, please include the title of the project and explain why you are interested in it, what you would bring to it, and what you would hope to gain from it.

PROJECT SCHEDULE:

  • Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Wednesday, January 11, 2012, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

 

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