"Reboot" Barbecue: May 24, 2023

We closed out the 22-23 academic year with a barbecue event at the Bailey Brown House. Despite rain moving the festivities inside, the approximately 20 attendees enjoyed delicious food from Theodore’s in Springfield, and engaged in conversation about the bright future of our participation in the arts at Amherst. 

In the Works - An Arts Faculty Showcase: March 31, 2023

During the Covid-19 pandemic, AAI was forced to abandon its bigger internally produced events in favor of spreading its budget across smaller external projects. This year, the Initiative decided to bring back its in-person events in a big way – with the production of an Arts Faculty Showcase. Organized by Jason Robinson and Eric Sawyer, the event featured new work from faculty and staff colleagues from the departments of Art and the History of Art, Music, and Theater and Dance. The showcase was framed as a presentation of “works in progress” in order to highlight the current artistic endeavors of our campus community. Included in the program were a live musical performance, a spatial audio presentation, a video project incorporating paper animation and an improvised score, a scene from a new opera, a presentation of handpainted 16mm film, and a video with sound score evolved from a live duet dance/theater piece. The showcase was well-attended and well-received. Many of the audience members could be seen smiling through performances and dancing in their seats, and heard sharing their enjoyment with their fellow attendees between sets. The showcase was followed by a reception in the lobby, during which audience members could enjoy desserts and hors d'oeuvres while mingling with the presenting artists.

Spring Soiree: March 8, 2023

Approximately 20 members of the Amherst community joined us for our Spring Soiree in the Porter Lounge this year. Presentations began with Emily Drummer, a visiting Assistant Professor currently teaching FAMS at Amherst. She discussed the film she is currently making in collaboration with Ecuadorian writer and producer Felipe Troya titled Crystal Fountain. The film is an exploration of movement, both of the imagination and of the body, through the space of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and its surrounding neighborhoods. Emily was followed by Lucia Monge, Assistant Professor of Art, who presented on her ongoing project Plantón Móvil, a participatory, walking forest performance that occurs annually and leads to the creation of public green areas. Monge began this project in 2010 and will continue this June in Paris. Finally, Maria Timina, Visiting Curator of Russian and European Art at the Mead Art Museum, presented on the exhibition "Fragments of Utopia: Vkhutemas Workshops" that was set to open March 24th at the Amherst Center for Russian Culture based on a collection of photos acquired by the Mead in 2021 connected to an art school known as Vkhutemas. Following the presentations, the larger group engaged in a Q&A and discussion with the artists while enjoying refreshments catered by Black Sheep.

Campus Art for All Inaugural Exhibition Opening: February 6, 2023

In 2023, AAI became a funding body for a new campus organization called Campus Art for All, in support of their idea for an exhibition of community made art in Valentine Dining Hall. The Initiative proudly presented the opening of CAFA's vision on February 6 in Valentine's Weiller Wing with an evening of hors d'oeuvres, music, and special remarks by our guest, Anthony Melting Tallow. The event was a terrific success, with appearances made by many members of the Amherst Community including President Michael Elliott. 

For more information on the artwork, the exhibition booklet can be found here. The exhibition will remain in Val throughout the semester. 

Fall Soiree: November 14, 2022

The first in-person soiree since before the pandemic was held in the Power House, w here about 25 faculty and staff members gathered together for refreshments including wine, cheese, and pastries from the Black-owned “Granny’s Baking Table,” a 5-star bakery located in Springfield. Attendees also enjoyed presentations given by Professor Dennis Sweeney and visiting artist Ohan Breiding on their recent work. Sweeney talked about our attempts to measure the insubstantial, whether it be ghosts or mold, and how he tries to apply language (and visual diagrams) to highlight the gaps that appear when we try to capture what cannot be measured. His presentation began with a delightful interview clip talking to his father about ghosts, and ended with an excerpt from his writing Five Essays on Mold While We Wait to Be Cleaned. Breiding followed with a presentation on their project Souvenir, a research-based project that explores the psychic, material, and political aftermath of oceanic hazard. They concluded with a video showing ocean waste laid out on a beach about the length of a football field, from toothbrushes to buoys. The audience then engaged in a fascinating Q&A and discussion about each presentation, and the connections between the two.

Welcome Reception: September 14, 2022

The Arts at Amherst Initiative kicked off the Fall ‘22 semester with a Welcome Reception at the Bailey Brown House, an annual tradition of welcoming new arts faculty and staff to campus. Approximately 30 members of the Amherst community gathered for refreshments and refreshing in-person conversation in the backyard space at the house. At the peak of the festivities, Steering Committee members, and founding members of the AAI,  Jason Robinson and Ron Bashford, made short remarks to introduce their colleagues to the vision of the Initiative.