Behind the Curtain: ORL Art Acquisition Program

by Katherine McConnell | 2/4/14 4:13pm

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The Office of Residential Life installed 19 works of student-created art around campus last year.
Source: Allison Chou

For the first half of freshman year, Tyler Rivera ’16 refused to work in French Hall’s study room. Not only was it a tiny, humid alcove squeezed next to the laundry room in a dormitory basement, but its walls were bland. When he walked by the room in the spring, however, it had gone through a transformation.

Three large student paintings adorned the walls, artwork which brightened up the study space and “made it feel homey,” Rivera said. For the first time, Rivera felt invited to study.

The artwork was installed by the Office of Residential Life, which has worked with the Class of 1960 since 1991 to purchase art from graduating studio art majors, rejuvenating study rooms and living areas. The program installed 19 pieces around campus in 2013.

After the Class of 1960’s 50th reunion, members of the class partnered with the Class of 2010 to continue the program. The Class of 2010 will eventually run the program independently, but the Class of 1960 still remains its primary contributor. Members of the Class of 1977 have also contributed to the ongoing project.

A reception that solicits pieces for the program is held in the Jaffe-Friede galleries for senior studio art majors each spring. Then, Dennis Goodman ’60 presents awards and acquires art for the program.

The program, he said, shows student enthusaism for studio art majors’ work.

Studio art professor Jerry Auten, residential education director Michael Wooten and campus life resource director Emily Eckels selected the pieces at the reception.

Auten said that prices typically range from $200 to $500, depending on the medium used and the cost of materials. Pieces are then placed around campus based on size and available wall space.

Lin Bo ’13, a current studio art department intern, sold an oil on wood painting, titled “Studies II,” to the program last year. While he is unsure if he will pursue a career as an artist, he appreciates that his work has been displayed as part of the program.

“It’s great to have that support through the program, for the College to say that they’re interested and that they want your stuff,” Bo said. “I don’t know where my piece is, but it is fun to see what other people have up.”

Stuart Lantry ’12, who also sold a piece last year, said that the program allows aspiring artists to make their first sale before graduation. Selling a work can “build momentum” and confidence before entering the art world, he said.

“[The pieces have] all this exposure because students walk past your work all the time,” he said. “While they might not realize it, appreciate it or even notice it, it is still on display and people are experiencing it.”

Several other pieces by Lantry have been bought or commissioned by the College, including “A Story Shared,” the 36-foot long mural above Collis Market, and paintings in Sarner Underground and on the second floor of the Class of 1953 Commons.

As part of renovations to the basement of Russell Sage Hall, Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson and an undergraduate group called Dartmouth Roots commissioned Lantry to create a mural for the space. The mural is composed of layers of wood, paint, spray paint and posters taken from city streets.

Rivera is a copy editor for The Dartmouth.