February 5, 2009     
Contact: Randall Griffey
Curator of American Art, Mead Art Museum

AMHERST, Mass.—Acclaimed painter and teacher Will Barnet will discuss his work and recent gift to Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum in a free public program at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 24, at Stirn Auditorium on campus. The artist’s talk will be followed by his open conversation with Thomas Dumm, professor of political science at Amherst and author of the newly published book Loneliness as a Way of Life.

Barnet’s visit marks the keystone event in a series of activities and projects celebrating the painter’s recent gift to Amherst College of an important painting, The Dream (1990), and four related drawings. The gifts are presently on view in the museum, alongside two other works by Barnet in the Mead’s collection, in the special installation Interpreting The Dream: A Recent Painting by Will Barnet in Context. The installation, made possible with support from the Amherst Art Series Fund and the Hall and Kate Peterson Fund, remains on view through late March.

The Dream is a fantastic addition to the museum’s collection of contemporary American painting,” said Randall Griffey, curator of American art. “It is an arresting, unforgettable image. We are tremendously indebted to Mr. Barnet and are pleased to host him for his first visit to our region.”

Barnet painted The Dream as part of group of works exploring his sister Eva’s experience as she approached the end of her life alone in the family home in Beverly, Mass., and began witnessing visions of deceased family members. The Dream shows Eva framed by a window through which she peers, while a reflection in the glass reveals ravens swirling in the night sky. Other works in the series show Eva in the home’s interior spaces, sometimes with her ghostly companions.

In addition to Amherst, Barnet and his wife Elena distributed works from his My Father’s House series to Bowdoin, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges and Yale University. This unprecedented consortial gift keeps the series symbolically intact and points to the artist’s long-standing commitment to art education. For more information about the series, visit the free electronic catalogue on the Mead’s Web site: www.amherst.edu/museums/mead/willbarnet.

The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, totaling more than 16,000 works. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. During the academic term, the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to midnight and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information, please visit the museum’s Web site, www.amherst/museums/mead, or call 413/542-2335.