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Louise Hamlin: The Art of Teaching

Louise HamlinProfessor Louise Hamlin in her studio, with a new work from her Mascoma River series. (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Professor of Studio Art Louise Hamlin has to shut the windows of her Lebanon, N.H., studio to talk about her art one early summer afternoon. The river beside the converted mill where she works runs hard and loud after a rainstorm. Hamlin, who joined the faculty in 1990, is a nationally exhibited artist. She teaches drawing, printmaking, and at times leads the department's senior seminar. She returns to the classroom (and also will be her department's interim chair) this fall, following a sabbatical. "Teaching and studio work can both be totally engaging," says Hamlin. "Dartmouth respects and supports the need of its faculty to maintain their professional research. It's contagious—the engagement I feel in my studio translates into the classroom. Students sense it and respond in their own work."

Room with a view: "Usually I go out into the landscape to paint," she says. "But the view from my studio has caught me this year." The series she has made during her sabbatical captures moments in the Mascoma River's constant flux: the striking reversal when snowfall on the water's frozen surface turned black to white, or when the churning rush of the spring thaw submerged a small island midstream, leaving only the trunks of two young trees to mark its presence.

Making movies: Hamlin recently co-produced Ink Across Time, an award-winning film documenting the printing of a rare 17th-century copper engraving plate that is on loan to the Hood Museum of Art from Robert Dance '77. Dartmouth students, alumni, museum professionals, guest artists, and experts, and especially co-producer Michael Sacca of Dartmouth's Media Production Group, all "gave time, knowledge, and enthusiasm" to the project, she reports. "It's an example of how truly collaborative some of the best experiences at Dartmouth are, and epitomizes the extraordinary opportunities to learn and teach here." The printing scenes were filmed during a printmaking class, and the film will be used in art history and studio art courses, as well as by the Hood. A major distributor has expressed interest in marketing the film to the North American educational and home video markets, Hamlin reports.

Learn by doing: "I train students simultaneously in the aesthetic and technical aspects of art making," says Hamlin. Many of us, she suggests, "don't look long enough to see." In the process of making art, she says her students learn how to see and how to synthesize what they see. As they critique, they also learn to think about what they do. Hamlin finds herself continually inspired by her students: "their experimentation and originality refresh each medium for me, every time."


"The Book Arts Program is an unsung treasure of Dartmouth," says Professor Louise Hamlin. In Baker Library studios, students receive expert instruction in hand type-setting and in binding techniques. The Departments of English and Studio Art jointly offered the course "Book Arts Studio Seminar" in spring 2009, which combined the history of books with their actual production. The course will be offered again in spring 2010. (Above: A Small, Silent Ode, by Sarah Parkinson '09, 2009 Book Arts Grand Prize co-winner.)


Last Updated: 1/12/10