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College program puts senior artwork on permanent display

Twenty-five members of the Class of 2005 who majored in art got a promising start to their careers as professional artists this spring. Thanks to the Dartmouth Art Acquisition Program, begun in 1990, the students received between $200 and $400 for artwork that they sold to the College for permanent display.

Admiration, oil painting by Craig Massey '05
Admiration, oil painting by Craig Massey '05 is one of 26 pieces of senior artwork purchased by the Dartmouth Art Acquisition Program this year. (photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

In addition to the roughly $10,000 the college spends on purchasing the artwork each year, almost as much is spent to have the works professionally framed and mounted, primarily in residence halls and occasionally in administrative buildings. The program is funded by the Class of 1960, which initiated it at the suggestion of then-Dean of Residential Life Mary Turco. Dennis Goodman '60, who represented his class during a recent ceremony honoring the artists, said the program represents the best of Dartmouth alumni involvement. "It's good for the artists, good for the dorms, good for the College, good for the Class of 1960," he said.

The acquisitions underscore the College's larger commitment to its Studio Art Department, which boasts a number of successful graduates, including Andrea Higgins '92 who has exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Michael Houston '94, whose paintings The New York Times described as having "[w]ell-schooled polish," Enrico Riley '95, who currently lectures at Dartmouth and has shown his work at The American Academy of Arts and Letters Invitational Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture and Daniel Dalseth '97 who has exhibited in St. Petersburg, Russia and at the Korean National University of the Arts in Seoul. Will Lamson '02 had recent solo shows at Pierogi in Brooklyn and at Bell Roberts Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa. Jennifer Caine '00 is currently exhibiting in the "New Talent" show at Alpha Gallery in Boston, Mass.

Jerry Auten, Professor of Studio Art and Director of the Student Art Exhibition Program, applauded the purchase program, saying it underscores the high caliber of the Dartmouth Studio Art Department and its graduates. "The Art Acquisition Program, through its purchases, placement of work throughout campus, impeccable maintenance of the work that it purchases, meticulous archiving of the collection on its website and support of students at the award ceremony each spring, instills in these young artists a belief in their potential."

When choosing the pieces, Auten explained that the College looks for work that can be installed in the residence halls, which usually means two-dimensional hanging work, such as paintings, photographs and architectural renderings. The realities of the display spaces make it difficult to purchase most sculpture and installation pieces but, Auten explained, the students understand this and typically offer to sell the College only those pieces that can be installed practically. Auten also described what the College looks for artistically in its purchases. "It's very subjective of course, but in general the program coordinators look for quality - something that is well conceived and constructed, that exhibits a high level of intellectual and emotional engagement that draws you into the piece." The works purchased this year are in a wide variety of media, including paint, ink, charcoal, photography and creatively-deployed mixed materials.

This year, the program has added a new dimension-a permanent online archive of the previous years' purchases, including photographs of the works and updates from the artists who created them. The artists honored by the acquisition program have gone on to a variety of pursuits. Some describe art as a valuable complement to their non-art career paths, others have gone into art, design and architecture professionally. Said Auten, "The website allows former awardees to update and share the tracks of their careers with others since leaving Dartmouth. It is a valuable resource for current students to see this quite remarkable range of possibilities."

By GENEVIEVE HAAS

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Last Updated: 12/17/08