November 19, 2007
Contact: Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.—Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum will celebrate the opening of “Amherst College Portraits: A Community Collaboration” with a walking tour and reception with artists Wendy Ewald and Brett Cook on Thursday, Nov. 29. The tour will start at the Mead at 3:45 p.m., and the reception will take place from 6 to 8 p.m., also at the Mead. Both are free and open to the public.
“Amherst College Portraits” is an exhibition made up of six 12 ½-foot-by-30-foot portrait triptychs mounted across the Amherst College campus and at the Mead. The artworks themselves—each of which portrays a student, staff member and faculty member—have been generated by the college’s visiting artist-in-residence Wendy Ewald and guest artist Brett Cook, with participation from students in Ewald’s seminar The Practice of Collaborative Art, members of the campus and Western Massachusetts community and the subjects of the portraits.
A map and audio devices will be available at the museum for self-guided tours of the banners on campus. The Amherst College Portraits Web site provides context for the project and features the work of the seminar students. The exhibition will remain on display until Jan. 20, 2008.
For more than 30 years, photographer Wendy Ewald has taken an unusual artistic path, working with children and adults around the world, encouraging her students to become photographers and working as a “translator” of their images. Using creative collaboration as the basis of the artistic process, she has worked in communities in Labrador, Appalachia, Colombia, India, South Africa, Holland, Mexico, North Carolina and, most recently, Margate in England. Her artistic collaborations have been widely published and exhibited, and she has received recognition for her innovative creative practice, including a MacArthur Fellowship and major grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andy Warhol Foundation and others. She is currently senior research associate for documentary studies and the Center for International Studies at Duke University, as well as visiting artist-in-residence at Amherst College.
Brett Cook has exhibited in museums and galleries and has engaged in public projects since 1991. His public works, often ephemeral in nature, have been executed from California to Maine, and in Brazil, Barbados and Mexico. Some have been commissioned by museums or public agencies while others have been self-initiated interventions in abandoned spaces. Among his public projects are a collaboration in South Central Los Angeles addressing divinity and the Development/Gentrification Project, with ten installations throughout Harlem. The work involves the participation of the subjects, giving people a voice and empowering marginalized communities. His work is currently on view in the exhibition “Portraiture Now: Framing Memory” at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
The Mead Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Thursday evenings until 9 p.m. For more information, visit the museum’s Web site, www.amherst.edu/mead, or call 413/542-2335.
The Collaborative Art Project is sponsored by the President’s Office, the Mead Art Museum, the Department of Art and Art History and the Center for Community Engagement.