Terras Irradient (Past and Present): Let Them Give Light to the World
Throughout Wendy Ewald’s Fall 2012 Art and the History of Art course "Collaborative Art: The Practices and Theory of Working with Communities," students were engaged with two “character” projects. One was historical, the other contemporary. The first installment, located downstairs in the display cases, exhibits carefully selected objects from the Amherst College archive, which the students felt best evoked the historical resonance of their subjects.
Each historical figure is connected to Amherst College. There are Amherst graduates, spouses of graduates and their children, each of whom played a role in the missionary efforts of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Missionaries figure importantly in the history of Amherst College, the motto on the Amherst seal being Terras Irradient, meaning “Let them give light to the world.” Throughout the semester, students researched their historical figures through archival materials. The final product was a book, which connects the historical and contemporary projects. A selection of these pages has been enlarged and is displayed to give a context for the contemporary art projects that evolved from the research on the missionaries.
For their contemporary projects, students paired up with members of the Senior Center at the Bangs Community Center in Amherst and collaborated on art projects that were produced in a wide range of mediums. The students discussed their historical characters with their partners and tried to find a connection by means of which they could collaborate on a new art project. Some projects have a stronger connection with their historical characters than others. As a result, each project is different, and the ensemble makes for an interesting collection of work. Throughout the semester, students learned about what it meant to work collaboratively and the importance of engaging with the community and doing so respectfully. They spent a lot of time with their community members from the Senior Center and have developed wonderful relationships, which will continue beyond the projects seen before you today.
A Celebration for Terras Irradient (Past and Present)is being held in conjunction with an exhibition of a selection of work on display in the library's mezzanine gallery until the end of the semester.