Artists reflect on time at Dartmouth

by Rebecca Asoulin | 1/28/14 5:35pm

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Three former artists-in-residence discussed their experience at the College in a panel on Tuesday.
Source: Sharon Cho

Louise Fishman, a former artist-in-residence at the College, still remembers how she feared leaving New York City for Hanover.

“To get in my car and pack up all my stuff and go north — I’d been to New Hampshire once camping, but I didn’t know where I was going,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of fear of putting yourself out in that way.”

Leaving her comfort zone, however, enabled her to enjoy a productive change of pace from the studio that she was familiar with, Fishman, an abstract painter, said.

Moderated by Hood Museum director Michael Taylor, three former artists-in-residence spoke about their experiences in the program during a Tuesday evening panel, “The Artist-in-Residence Program at Dartmouth.” The event was one of many talks and gallery tours associated with the recently opened “In Residence” exhibit at the Hood, which features work from over 80 former artists-in-residnece.

The 83-year-old program hosts three to four artists a year, who live and work at the College and exhibit their art in the Jaffe-Friede Gallery. Tuesday’s panel featured Fishman, Linda Matalon, a post-minimalist sculptor and illustrator, and John Newman, a contemporary sculptor.

“We invited the artists who took the most advantage of the resources we had on campus, who tried new things, who integrated themselves with the student and the faculty and just had a great time,” Taylor said.

At the event, the artists said that they had appreciated the relative isolation in Hanover as well as the large blocks of time spent devoted to their work.

“The studio is this sort of fantastic isolated bubble,” Newman said. “One of the things that I really appreciated was that there was a beautiful balance of people being appropriately solicitous and leaving me alone.”

Artists said Dartmouth’s diverse resources, especially in such a small space, inspired new projects. Some artists explored art mediums like ceramics or photography, while others, like Newman, ventured down Tuck Drive to experiment with the Thayer School of Engineering 3D printer.

Fishman said she even ventured into the music department across the hall and would sometimes play an open piano.

“I got all new brushes, a huge amount of acrylic paint and rug samples,” Fishman said. “I thought I could paint on everything I possibly could. My experience was one discovery after another.”

Artists also engage with students during their time in-residence, visiting classes related to their field of focus. Luca Molnar ’13, previously a studio arts major and currently an intern in the department, said Matalon and Newman gave her helpful feedback about her work during their time as residents.

“By the time you’re a senior, the professors kind of already know your work,” Molnar said. “It’s super valuable to have that outside perspective.”

Studio art professor and director of exhibitions Gerald Auten said that students in the arts should seek out the artists-in-residence. In total, a student can have the opportunity to engage with 12 world-renowned artists during their time at the College, he said.

“[Artists] cannot teach, but they are required to interact with students,” he said. “I don’t know any other program like that. It’s an opportunity to interact with artists that define their generation.”

The panelists said that they benefited from such interactions as well. Fishman said she could form close relationships with a few students and even purchased some students’ work.

Matalon said that although she almost deleted the email inviting her to Dartmouth, her eventual exhibition at the end of the residency period, a retrospective of her work going back to the 1970s, remains one of her favorites.

“When I came to Dartmouth, I didn’t have the intention of trying new things,” she said. “You never know what’s going to happen. You have to keep your eyes open and your heart open. I feel really fortunate to have been here.”

Taylor said that students’ interaction with artist can also open them to the possibility of pursuing a career in the arts, or at least as a life long hobby.

“It shows them that art is a life,” Taylor said. “They were all saying that art is their life, and it’s a life well lived.”