Exhibit features artists-in-residence

by Apoorva Dixit | 1/20/14 7:47pm

His dilated black pupils glare at viewers, seemingly daring them to continue staring while asking “Did I give you permission to look?” Composed from heavy strokes of black, brown, gray and red, Carlos Sanchez’s eyes remain just as haunting in his “Self-Portrait” as when the artist first painted the work in 1923 as a Dartmouth student.

Almost 100 years later, work by Dartmouth’s first artist-in-residence returns to campus as part of the Hood Museum’s “In Residence: Contemporary Artists at Dartmouth” show, which opened Saturday. Although Sanchez died in 1998, previous Hood intern Jessica Womack ’14 was able to contact the artist’s family in Guatemala in 2012, and the museum negotiated for the acquisition of two of his works — the self-portrait and “Young Man with Bird,” painted in 1932 while the artist was in residence at the College.

The gift of the two paintings sparked the idea for a full retrospective gallery. Featuring over 80 artists, the exhibit pays homage to the breadth and diversity of the 83-year-old artist-in-residence program, which invites renowned artists to live on campus and create and exhibit their work at Dartmouth. Artists also interact with students and faculty and often leave their marks on campus in notable ways, such as Jose Clemente Orozco’s “The Epic of American Civilization” mural in Baker Library’s lower level.

Hood director Michael Taylor called this exhibit one of the largest and most ambitious shows that the Hood has ever attempted. The show will use six on-campus venues to exhibit work, including gallery space in the Hood, Black Family Visual Arts Center and Hopkins Center. The artists, ranging from sculptors to architects, come from various locations.

“We had a decision to make fairly early on, which was do you stick with the greats, or are you going to be inclusive and show the range of the program?” Taylor said. “We went with the latter.”

The exhibit includes work in progress, like Orozco’s sketches for his mural, and finished work by artists of considerable international fame like Frank Stella, who was at the forefront of abstract art in the 1960s. More recent work includes a piece by John Newman, the 2013 artist-in-residence, who used the Thayer School of Engineering’s 3D printer to generate a piece of vacuum-formed translucent Plexiglas to top his sculpture titled “Blue Light Holds the Distance.” The gallery seamlessly blends new works like his with more traditional works, positioning Newman’s sculpture just feet from celebrated British-based ceramicist Magdalene Odundo’s traditional terracotta vases.

Art is no longer simply a painting on a wall, Taylor said, and must engage viewers in various ways, like through sculpture and feats of modern engineering.

The success of Dartmouth’s artist-in-residence program stems from the quality and number of resources that campus offers, Jerry Auten said, artist-in-residence program director and co-curator of the exhibit. While artists once came to use Dartmouth’s cutting-edge printmaking technology, they now come for technology like 3D printing.

The exhibit also highlights significant events in Dartmouth history. It includes work by 1971 artist-in-residence Alexander Brooks Jackson, the first African-American artist selected for the program, and 1973 artist-in-residence Fritz Scholder, the program’s first Native American artist. Jackson’s “Man and the Wall #7” hangs opposite Scholder’s “Dartmouth Portrait #17,” painted while in residence at the College. Scholder’s painting glorifies the Native American against a Dartmouth Green background. The man holds an eagle-wing feather fan, a symbol of spiritual harmony to oppose the stereotypical warrior image. The work reflects the tension between President John Kemeny’s 1970 reaffirmation of the College’s commitment to Native American education and athletic teams’ unofficial use of the Indian as their mascot.

This theme of using art to reveal and overcome racial and national struggles is also apparent in Christopher Cozier’s installation piece, “Cross Currents,” which is currently displayed in the Hop’s Jaffe-Friede Gallery. A reflection on global capitalism’s negative effect on his home of Trinidad, the piece consists of 300 white flags arranged in a triangle formation. The flags are printed with two images, a businessman with a briefcase sprinting to the right and a runaway slave with a bundle over his shoulder running to the left.

Taylor said that the exhibition is overdue but required considerable preparation.

“When I came to Dartmouth, this was the exhibition I dreamed of doing,” he said.

The gallery reception for the exhibit will take place Friday and include a conversation with 2004 artist-in-residence architect James Cutler in the Loew Auditorium at 4:30 p.m. The show will be on display through July 6.