Amy Griffin is the 2016-2017 Curatorial Fellow at Old Sturbridge Village.
This June, Amy H. Griffin, WPAMC Class of 2016, started a Curatorial Fellowship at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. The year-long position, endowed by The Americana Foundation, enables the Fellow to meet her own professional goals while also supporting ongoing departmental and institutional initiatives. One collaborative project taking place over the course of the Fellowship is a total collections inventory, begun in 2012 by the first Fellow, Anne McBride (WPAMC 2012). Contributing to the broader process of updating and streamlining the OSV Collections Database, the inventory exposes Fellows to OSV collections, while presenting unique management challenges such as establishing nomenclature and fostering accessibility. Honing skills in exhibition development is a personal goal for Amy. She has opportunities to refine galleries and exhibitions in small ways, but also to participate in conversations about large-scale, long-term goals for the OSV campus, its gallery spaces, and the interpretation of its rich collections. In her first weeks, Amy drafted a text panel for “Boarding with the Bixbys,” a new program allowing visitors to spend the night in the 1808 Bixby House. The panel condenses information from an extensive self-guided exhibit, limiting the curatorial voice to only essential background knowledge in the newly functional interior. Among Amy’s primary goals during her Fellowship is to update case displays, signage, and narratives in the Glass in Early America exhibit, last installed in 1967. She looks forward to developing exhibition opportunities in the OSV Visitors’ Center the many hospitality facilities on campus under the direction of Curatorial Director Caitlin Emery Avenia (WPAMC 2009).
Natalie Wright is the 2016 Charles Hummel Curatorial Fellow at the Chipstone Foundation.
Natalie Wright was recently named the 2016 Charles Hummel Curatorial Fellow at the Chipstone Foundation. This two-year fellowship allows Wright to work with and learn from the incredible Chipstone staff, and also to pursue her own research. Based in Milwaukee, WI, the Chipstone Foundation is a decorative arts organization that produces and supports highly innovative material culture scholarship and curatorial practice. Their collection focuses on American furniture, early English ceramics, historic prints, and contemporary art that responds to historic forms and themes. The collection is shown in galleries at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Chipstone uses its extraordinary collections to research new ways of learning from objects with the goal of illuminating unseen perspectives and untold stories. This research is taught in Chipstone-sponsored courses, and can be read in Chipstone’s journal publications American Furniture and Ceramics in America. Chipstone works to find new ways to present such research in dynamic and engaging ways. By successfully utilizing experimental curatorial practice to display object-based research, Chipstone has become synonymous with groundbreaking curatorial work.
At Chipstone, Wright will research collection objects, conceptualize and write exhibit material, add to Chipstone’s collection, facilitate new ways of telling material culture stories, assist with Chipstone’s national think tanks, develop new exercises and material for Chipstone courses, and much more. Wright works alongside a core team of five, including Dr. Sarah Carter, Curator and Director of Research at Chipstone and WPEAC Class of 2004, and Jon Prown, Chief Curator and Director of the Chipstone Foundation. With this team, Wright aims to build on her scholarship from Winterthur and the University of Toronto on immigration studies and how museum collections and curatorial practice can engage contemporary issues. She also aspires to learn more about museum leadership practices.
Nicholas R. Bell has been named Senior Vice President for Curatorial Affairs at Mystic Seaport.
NEW LEADERSHIP IN COLLECTIONS
Mystic Seaport announced that Nicholas R. Bell has been named Senior Vice President for Curatorial Affairs, a new position, effective June 1, 2016. He is responsible for the care, management, strategic development, and exhibition of the Museum’s collections.
Bell most recently was The Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC, where he led the Gallery’s recent relaunch following a $30 million, two-year renovation. The reopening exhibition, entitled “WONDER,” explores the museum’s value to American culture and identity by presenting nine gallery spaces to site-specific installations by leading contemporary artists. The innovative project brought success and tremendous acclaim to the Renwick—museum attendance has increased 1,000 percent since its reopening.
“We are very proud to have a curator of Nicholas’s caliber join Mystic Seaport. We believe his deep knowledge of material culture, understanding of the public audience, and demonstrated leadership and creativity will take our collections and exhibitions program to a new level,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport. “The combination of the Thompson Exhibition Building opening this fall and this new leadership position truly signify that Mystic Seaport is moving into a new era of exhibitions.”
During his eight years at the Renwick, Bell curated six major exhibitions. The diverse projects included the thematic “WONDER;” a highly praised generational survey “40 under 40: Craft Futures,” organized to celebrate the Renwick’s 40th anniversary; the monographic “Untitled: The Art of James Castle;” and the presentation of groundbreaking research in “A Measure of the Earth: The Cole-Ware Collection of American Baskets.”
Bell’s vision expanded the Renwick’s focus from a narrow definition of craft to include a broad array of creative practices illustrating skilled making as a multifaceted approach to living in the modern world. He reinvigorated the museum’s permanent collection through targeted purchases and gifts, including the gift of a landmark Dale Chihuly chandelier, the acquisition of the largest public collection of American revival baskets, and the second largest public collection of works by seminal self-taught artist James Castle.
Along with his curatorial accomplishments, Bell worked with the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s development team to raise funds to endow two curatorships and support the Renwick’s renovation. He also was part of a select group of Smithsonian experts who participated in TED talk-style presentations across the U.S. for the Smithsonian’s $1.5 billion capital campaign.
Bell has published seven books in the last five years, including six peer-reviewed exhibition catalogues and one edited anthology. He additionally positioned the Renwick as a center for scholarship with two international symposia in the past three years that have featured nearly 40 speakers.
”No matter how far we live from it, as Americans, the sea is bred in our bones. I believe the inclusiveness with which Mystic Seaport defines this relationship is the Museum’s greatest asset to building new connections with the public it serves,” said Bell. “Expanding on these connections is a thrilling opportunity, and I could not ask for a stronger team with which to embark on this adventure than the one already in place at the Museum.”
Bell earned a bachelor’s degree from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, and a master’s degree from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture at the University of Delaware. Click here for complete text.
20th Century ocean liner design featured in the Winterthur Portfolio.
Christian Roden, is the Membership Coordinator for the Decorative Arts Trust and a recent graduate of the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. His scholarly contribution on Henry Dreyfuss’ design of six ocean liners for John Slater at American Export Lines (AEL) from 1944 to 1951 was published in the Winter 2015 edition of the Winterthur Portfolio. Dreyfuss used innovative techniques to facilitate collaboration with maritime engineers at Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding Division and shipyard personnel. A leading industrial designer of the twentieth century, he applied anthropometry (later termed ergonomics), as well as experience designing trains and airplanes, to achieve workable solutions to problems of ocean liner construction, organization, maintenance, and livability. The resultant convertible mid-century interiors accommodated a variety of day- and nighttime uses by passengers across the economic spectrum, making AEL competitive in the postwar transatlantic transportation market. Henry Dreyfuss, one of the great industrial designer rented a warehouse to recreate an ocean liner and build prototype interior space. Click here for complete text.
“Blending the Ingredients of a National Dish: How Natives, Nuns, Abuelas, and the Aristocracy Invented Mole”
Tîernan Alexander, a recent graduate of the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, presented the history of a humble Aztec stew with substance from Spain, spices from Asia, and techniques from the Middle East to become the National Dish of Mexico at a May 2016 lecture at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library. She examined the infiltration of eastern flavors into the daily cooking of New Spain. Ms. Alexander is an artist, amateur food historian, and recovery learning specialist at the Creative Vision Factory in Wilmington, Delaware.
Jason T. Busch recently accepted a new position as vice president, division director of decorative arts in New York. His new role at Sotheby’s was effective April 4, just ahead of the firm’s European decorative arts sales. “It’s really exciting, marking a new chapter in decorative arts,” he told Antiques and The Arts Weekly while still in St Louis. The fact that Busch’s hire is one of several in the decorative arts category presages such a shift, which is to think more broadly about collections that span across America and Europe, Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries, and areas of interest ranging from antiquities, Oceanic and African art to silver, objets de vertu, Americana, porcelain and ceramics.
Previously Busch held the position of deputy director for curatorial affairs and museum programs at the Saint Louis Art Museum; and is among three new hires at Sotheby’s. “I am both honored and thrilled by the opportunity to work with colleagues at Sotheby’s,” said Busch. “My move from the Saint Louis Art Museum is bittersweet, as I feel privileged having contributed to the strategic plan and recruitment of staff for one of America’s leading encyclopedic art museums.”
Busch joined the Saint Louis Art museum in October 2013 and served there for two and a half years. Previously he served as chief curator and the Alan G. and Jane A. Lehman curator of decorative arts and design at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, 2006–2013. He directed the 2009 renovation and reinstallation of the Carnegie Museum’s storied Ailsa Mellon Bruce Galleries, including American and European decorative arts, Modernist design and contemporary craft. Prior to that he was assistant curator of architecture, design, decorative arts, craft and sculpture at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, as well as assistant curator of American decorative arts at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
Busch is a 1998 graduate of the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture with a master of arts degree. He received his bachelor of arts degree in American studies from Miami University.
Amy Marks Delaney’s “Growing Together Across the Autism Spectrum” has won two awards.
Amy (Elizabeth) Marks Delaney is a graduate of the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. She holds the position of Associate Curator of Exhibitions at Winterthur Museum. Her latest highly acclaimed book, Growing Together Across the Autism Spectrum, has won two awards :
1. a National Parenting Product Award and
When asked about her ability to author such an illustrated book, Amy Marks Delaney replied: ” I couldn’t have written, illustrated, or designed it without having been part of Winterthur and museums in general. As I was working on it, I was consistently amazed by how many of the skills needed to make a book of this nature are parallel to those required to create museum exhibitions. It all comes back to research, writing, interpretation, storytelling, art, and design–and, of course, understanding your audience.” For further information on Growing Together Across the Autism Spectrum click here.
Photo credit by Natale Caccamo
“UPSTATE HISTORICAL” MAKES THE BYRDCLIFFE ART COLONY COME ALIVE
Earlier this year, an interactive website and smartphone app was launched that focuses on the buildings of the Byrdcliffe Art Colony, whose archive is in the Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera, Collection 209. Called “Upstate Historical,” the website/app presents text and images together with a Global Positioning System, or GPS, generated map of the Byrdcliffe property.
Everything is keyed into six buildings that were once part of the Byrdcliffe colony:
• The Bottega: Byrdcliffe’s furniture shop.
• The Studio: with artist’s studios, a library, and exhibition space.
• White Pines: where two of Byrdcliffe’s founders, Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead and Jane Byrd McCall Whitehead, lived.
• The Barns: the location of Byrdcliffe’s farming operation.
• The Looms: the home and studio of Marie Little, a weaver.
• Casa Carnola: the home of Bolton Brown, the third person responsible for establishing Byrdcliffe as an artist’s colony.
People interested in visiting Byrdcliffe, which is located in Woodstock, New York, can use “Upstate Historical” in two ways. If in an automobile, walking, or riding a bicycle in Woodstock, with a smartphone, someone can locate the buildings or their sites (unfortunately, Casa Carnola, The Looms, and The Bottega are no longer extant), see them or where they once were, and read historical commentary. Armchair travelers from a distance can also stop by, simply by turning their computers on and accessing the “Upstate Historical” URL. Many thanks to Thomas A. Guiler, a former fellow in Winterthur’s Research Fellowship Program and current graduate student in the department of history at Syracuse University, for creating the Byrdcliffe site and for writing the text. Tom also contributed a wonderfully informative introduction to the Byrdcliffe colony.
Two images of White Pines at the Byrdcliffe Art Colony, Woodstock, New York.