Do you feel it? That slight autumn chill. The excitement in the air. The anticipation of another academic year ahead… Before fall kicks in and you get bogged down by the work you have to do, make room in your schedule now for the arts events and activities you’ll want to do. 

Here’s a look at some of the new exhibitions on view and the artists visiting campus, plus a new opera, a theater alumnae residency, fiction readings and a poetry festival where all of Emily Dickinson’s poems will be read. Don’t miss what interests you: make your plans today.

Exhibition Openings & Artist Talks

Sept_Arts_Preview_Exhibits.jpg Esteban Uceda ’19 and SabriAnan Micha ’19. Photo by Maria Stenzel & Jonathan Jackson ’19 for #AmherstIBelong.

#AmherstIBelong, a new exhibition in the Keefe Campus Center, explores what it means to “belong” at Amherst College. Sponsored by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, the exhibition includes colorful portraits of students, along with their own thoughts about their sense of belonging at Amherst. All are invited to celebrate the exhibit during opening receptions on Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 4 p.m. in Keefe and on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 4 p.m. in the Mead Art Museum.

Seductive, disorienting, informative and allegorical, Nicholas Muellner’s In Most Tides an Island is at once a glimpse of contemporary post-Soviet queer life, a meditation on solitude and desire, and an inquiry into the nature of photography and poetry. The exhibition opens Monday, Sept. 11, at the Eli Marsh Gallery in Fayerweather Hall (Room 105). Later that week, on Thursday, Sept. 14, join Muellner for an opening lecture and reception beginning at 4:30 p.m. in Fayerweather’s Pruyne Lecture Hall (Room 115). The exhibition remains on view through Friday, Oct. 6.

During the 201718 year, the Arts at Amherst Initiative—a collaboration between three departments (music, theater & dance, and art & the history of art) and the Mead Art Museum—hosts Art Ecologies, a series of events featuring guest artists whose works focus on our relationship to ecological systems and materials. Guest artists visiting in September include printmaker Lyell Castonguay, who prints large-scale woodcuts, on Tuesday, Sept. 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. outside Fayerweather Hall, and musician Vic Rawlings, who performs Thursday, Sept. 28, at 12:50 p.m. in front of Fayerweather, followed by a 4:30 p.m. workshop with Rawlings in the Yūshien Japanese Garden (between Webster Hall and Kirby Memorial Theater).

Sept_Arts_Preview_Exhibitions_2.jpg On view at Amherst’s Mead Art Museum: Saya Woolfalk, The Four Virtues (Prudence), 2017; Mimi Cherono Ng'ok, Untitled, 2014; and Jerome Liebling, Young Girl, 1952.

Global art and photography take center stage this fall at Amherst’s Mead Art Museum. Tell It Like It Is—or Could Be features works by acclaimed contemporary photographers Cindy Sherman, Zackary Drucker and Mimi Cherono Ng'ok, among others. Saya Woolfalk: Life Products and the ChimaCloud is the third installment in the ongoing Rotherwas Project exhibition series, which situates contemporary art in the Mead’s historic Rotherwas Room. Also on view are installations featuring the Mead’s Russian, European and American collections, works by renowned American artist Michael Mazur ’57, and Picturing American Identity, an installation organized by the Mead’s summer interns.

All are invited to celebrate the Mead’s fall exhibitions at an opening reception on Tuesday, Sept. 12. Curatorial remarks begin at 5 p.m., and a reception with contemporary photographer Mimi Cherono Ng’ok follows from 6–8 p.m. Rotherwas Project artist Saya Woolfalk speaks on Friday, Sept. 22, at 4:30 p.m. at the Mead. If you can’t make it to the opening reception, stop by the museum anytime between Sept. 12 and Dec. 31 to see the new exhibits. The Mead is open from 9 a.m. until midnight on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission is always free of charge. 

Concerts & Performances

Sept_Arts_Preview_Performances.jpg Tenor William Hite starts as Newton Arvin in The Scarlet Professor. Photo by Maria Stenzel.

The Scarlet Professor—a new opera composed by Professor of Music Eric Sawyer and directed by Associate Professor of Theater and Dance Ron Bashford ’88—dramatizes the true, local story of Newton Arvin, a Smith College professor arrested in 1960 for possessing homosexual erotica. A darkly comic mix of history and fiction, the opera blends real human drama with scenes from the 1850 novel Arvin wrote about most passionately: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Professor debuts with a cast of professional opera performers on Friday, Sept. 15, and Saturday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m., and on Sunday, Sept. 17, at 3 p.m. The following weekend, on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 24, at 3 p.m., Five College students fill principal roles. All performances take place at Smith College, in Theater 14 of the Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts.

Sept_Arts_Preview_Performances2.jpg Anat Cohen kicks off the Music at Amherst Series. Photo by Augusta Sagnelli.

The Music at Amherst Series kicks off on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m. in Buckley Recital Hall with a performance by the Anat Cohen Quartet. Cohen—a New York City-based jazz clarinetist, saxophonist and bandleader from Tel Aviv, Israel—has won hearts and minds the world over with her expressive virtuosity and delightful stage presence. Earlier in the day, at 4 p.m. on Sept. 16, Cohen teaches a masterclass for Amherst students in Arms Music Center.

As part of the Five College Theater Women of Color Alumnae Residency, Lisa Biggs ’93 (Amherst), Kunsang Kelden ’03F (Hampshire), Sueann Leung ’10 (Mount Holyoke), Nia Witherspoon ’05 (Smith) and Dawn Monique Williams MFA ’11 (UMass Amherst) will give presentations and performances about their work in acting, design, social justice, playwriting and performance-making on Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in Kirby Memorial Theater. The following day, Friday, Sept. 29, they’ll present the panel conversation “Theater in Our Times” at 5 p.m. in Kirby Memorial Theater.

Poetry & Fiction Readings

Sept_Arts_Preview_Readings.jpg
Authors Peter Kimani (left) and Maaza Meginste (right) give readings and book signings as part of the Fall Reading Series.

Amherst’s Fall Reading Series kicks off on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at 8 p.m. with a reading by award-winning journalist, poet and fiction writer Peter Kimani. He is the author of three novels—Before the Rooster Crows, Upside Down and, most recently, Dance of the Jakaranda—and currently serves as Amherst’s visiting writer. The series continues on Tuesday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m. with a reading by novelist and essayist Maaza Mengiste, whose fiction and nonfiction examine the individual lives at stake during migration, war and exile, and can be found in The New Yorker, Granta, The New York Times and BBC Radio, among other places. Both events take place at Amherst Books, 8 Main St. in downtown Amherst, and are followed by receptions with refreshments. 

The Amherst Poetry Festival returns for its fifth anniversary Thursday, Sept. 14, through Sunday, Sept. 17, bringing a celebration of Western Massachusetts’ historic and contemporary poetic legacy to the Emily Dickinson Museum and throughout downtown Amherst. This year’s events include the one-day reading of all 1,789 of Emily Dickinson’s poems; poetry in the Bassett Planetarium with Dara Wier and Bianca Stone, as the starscapes of the evening of Emily Dickinson’s birth and death are projected; a screening of Emily Dickinson: My Letter to the World, a documentary by the producers of A Quiet Passion; and more. Nearly all of the events at this four-day festival are free and open to the public.

Amherst College Jazz Ensemble

See More Arts Events

Check out the Arts Calendar for more information about these and additional arts events.

Mailing List Sign up

Receive E-mail Updates

Enjoy more of the arts at Amherst with our Happenings Ahead e-Newsetter, delivered to your inbox each month.