Exterior of the Mead Art Museum (AMHERST, Mass., August 8, 2019)
— The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College announced today that it has received a gift of more than 170 works of contemporary art from an anonymous donor, significantly expanding the Mead’s holdings of recent work. To celebrate this donation, as well as the range of other contemporary artworks that have either been given to or purchased by the Mead in the last several years, the Museum will present the exhibition Starting Something New: Recent Contemporary Art Acquisitions and Gifts, opening September 10, 2019, and running through July 26, 2020.

This gift, which includes works by established artists such as Mona Hatoum, David Hockney, Thomas Ruff, and Cindy Sherman, also includes a significant number of pieces by a diverse roster of emerging and mid-career artists from across the United States and around the world, such as Dario Escobar, Toba Khedoori, Robin Rhode, and Analia Saban. At the same time, the contribution also extends the range of media reflected at the Museum, bringing in new video, photography, and sculptures, as well as paintings, drawings, and a number of mixed-media pieces.

Concurrently this fall, the Mead will open an exhibition marking a decade of acquisitions made through the Trinkett Clark Memorial Student Acquisition Fund. Established in 2008 in honor of Trinkett Clark, former curator of American Art at the Mead, the fund sponsors the purchase of one print selected by Amherst College students each academic year, with the first work having been acquired in 2009. This fund—in conjunction with classes taught at the museum—empowers students to take an active role in the development of the Mead Art Museum collection and has enriched the diversity of the Museum’s collection. Ten Years of Trinkett Clark Memorial Student Acquisitions also will run September 10 through January 5, 2020.

“We are so incredibly fortunate to be the recipients of a gift of contemporary art of this scale and scope,” said David E. Little, director and chief curator of the Mead Art Museum. “The addition of more than 170 works of contemporary art will have a tremendous impact on our collection and supports us in our ongoing efforts to expand our holdings in ways that reflect the diversity of the Amherst College community. This goal is advanced further through important new acquisitions of artworks by artists such as Heather Agyepong, Kapwani Kiwanga, and Paul Sepuya, which will be on view this fall. The 10-year anniversary of the Trinkett Clark Memorial fund reminds us of and reaffirms the hands-on student engagement that keeps the Mead a central part of the life of the College.”

Starting Something New: Recent Contemporary Art Acquisitions and Gifts brings together more than 60 artworks made between 1967 and 2019. The works were chosen because they highlight the ways in which artists experiment with different—and often unexpected—media, as well as for the ways in which they explore and reflect on today’s most pressing political issues. For example, Conversations with the Dead (1967-1968), Danny Lyon’s urgently relevant documentary photographs from inside a prison, explore the impact of the prison industrial complex on both inmates and the society as a whole. Kapwani Kiwanga’s Greenbook, Mississippi (2019), a doctored facsimile of a page from Victor H. Green’s “The Negro Motorist Green-book,” demonstrates how artists engage with and integrate complex topics such as race, geography, and culture into their work. And Mona Hatoum’s Rubber Mat (1996), with its grotesque intestines of silicone rubber, serves to comment on the body as a cultural battleground in its own right. 

Fall Programs at the Mead Art Museum

This fall, the Mead will present a range of programs that continue the Museum’s art-focused engagement with campus audiences around topics of interest. Highlight programs on campus include:

  • Curating the Contemporary (September 10, 5-6 p.m., Stirn Auditorium, free and open to the public): To celebrate the opening of Starting Something New, the Mead will convene a panel called Curating the Contemporary, in which contemporary art curators will discuss what it means to curate contemporary art in a college art museum setting today. The panelists are: Horace Ballard, Curator of American Art at the Williams College Museum of Art; Emma Chubb, (Inaugural) Charlotte Feng Ford ’83 Curator of Contemporary Art at the Smith College Museum of Art; and David E. Little, John Wieland 1958 Director and Chief Curator of the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College. Tiffany Bradley, founder of Colored Criticism, will moderate the discussion.
  • Craftivism with Survivors Art Collective (October 22, 12-3 p.m., Mead): Join the Reproductive Justice Alliance and the Women’s and Gender Center (WGC) for an afternoon of craftivism at the Mead. Artists from the Survivors Art Collective in Easthampton, Mass., will participate in conversation over lunch and then lead art-making workshops in the galleries. Buttons, stickers, zines, and other works of art will be sold throughout the week in the Keefe Campus Center and in the WGC. All proceeds will benefit a local non-profit that supports reproductive justice work in western Massachusetts.
  • The Sounds of Stonewall (November 13, 7-8 p.m., Mead): To honor the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the Amherst College Choral Society and the Amherst College Stonewall Committee will present a live performance of musical selections inspired by tunes that played on the jukebox at the Stonewall Inn in 1969, along with pieces by contemporary LGBT composers.
  • A Day With(out) Art Video Installation (On view December 1–Saturday, December 7, 2019, Mead): On December 1, 2019, Visual AIDS will commemorate the 30th anniversary of Day With(out) Art with seven newly commissioned videos by Shanti Avirgan, Nguyen Tan Hoang, Carl George, Viva Ruiz, Iman Shervington, Jack Waters, and Derrick Woods-Morrow. These artists will consider the contemporary impact and presence of HIV/AIDS while revisiting cultural histories of art and activism from the past 30 years. This video exhibition is presented in conjunction with Visual AIDS, the Smith College Museum of Art, the Amherst College Stonewall Committee, and the Queer Resource Center.
  • Understanding the Cultural & Political Impact of HIV/AIDs through Art (December 3, 12-2 m., Mead): A panel discussion on the cultural and political impact of HIV/AIDS, featuring: Amherst College Arts Librarian Sara Smith; Queer Resource Center Director Jxhn Martin; Brown Post-Baccalaureate Curatorial Fellow at Smith College Museum of Art Shanice Bailey; and the Director of A Positive Place, Betsy Shally-Jensen, as well as local community members who are currently living with HIV/AIDs and survivors of the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 90s. This program is presented in conjunction with A Day With(out) Art video installation and in collaboration with A Positive Place at Cooley Dickinson Health Care, the Smith College Museum of Art, the Amherst College Stonewall Committee, and the Queer Resource Center. 

About the Mead Art Museum

Situated in the vibrant Five Colleges academic community of western Massachusetts, the Mead Art Museum serves as a laboratory for interdisciplinary research and innovative teaching involving original works of art. An accredited member of the American Alliance of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round, and until midnight on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday during the academic term. 

Admission to the museum is free and open to the public. For more information, including a searchable catalogue of the collection and a complete schedule of exhibitions and events, visit amherst.edu/mead or call (413) 542-2335.