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Private Portraits, Public Conversations

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New Hood-commissioned exhibition of portraits by artist Félix de la Concha opens April 4

yalowitzKenneth Yalowitz
Kenneth Yalowitz, director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding, with his portrait by artist Félix de la Concha. Yalowitz is one of 51 individuals whose portraits-which include audio and video interviews-were commissioned by the Hood Museum of Art for the new exhibition "Félix de la Concha: Private Portraits/Public Conversations."


conchaFélix de la Concha (Félix de la Concha, oil on linen. collection of the artist)
"Félix was a very knowledgeable and insightful interlocutor," says Yalowitz of the interview. "We focused on my work as a U.S. Ambassador in Belarus and Georgia in which I was involved with conflict prevention and resolution. I wanted to describe the difficulties in the process and how a cessation of hostilities is usually much easier to achieve than genuine reconciliation between the parties."

Click here for more information and video excerpts of the interviews.

Beginning this term, the Hood Museum of Art exhibits "Félix de la Concha: Private Portraits/Public Conversations," a series of multifaceted portraits.

"Félix de la Concha: Private Portraits/Public Conversations" Events

Panel Discussion: Faculty members will discuss issues involving conflict and reconciliation in their work.

Tuesday, April 14, at 12:30 p.m., Collis 101

Lecture: With Kenneth Yalowitz, the Norman E. McCulloch Jr. Director of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding.

Thursday, April 16, at 5 p.m., Hood Museum of Art

Exhibition Tour: With Hood Director Brian Kennedy.

Saturday, April 18, at 2 p.m., Hood Museum of Art

Panel Discussion: Student leaders talk about
challenges and conflicts facing their generation.

Tuesday, May 5, at 12:30 p.m., Collis 101

Question and Answer Session: With Artist Félix de la Concha and Hood Director Brian Kennedy, followed by a reception. A Dartmouth Centers Forum "Conflict and Reconciliation" event.

Friday, May 8, at 4:30 p.m., Hood Museum of Art, Loew Auditorium

Introductory Exhibition Tour

Saturday, May 16, at 2 p.m., Hood Museum of Art

Félix de la Concha, a Spanish artist who lives in Lyme, N.H., was commissioned to create portraits of 51 people from the Dartmouth and Upper Valley communities. The exhibition is part of "Conflict and Reconciliation," a multiyear series of events sponsored by the Dartmouth Centers Forum, a collaboration of 10 of Dartmouth's interdisciplinary, extracurricular, and arts centers.

Subjects each sat for two hours. While de la Concha painted, he interviewed them about instances of conflict and reconciliation in their own lives. Topics included terminal illness, social integration, poverty, being newly rich, the death of a child, domestic abuse, and addiction.

Director of the Hood Brian Kennedy says that the goal  in curating the exhibition was "to make this show as representative as possible and to outline the types of conflict people had in their lives." The result, he believes, is a success: "The level of engagement with raw humanity in this exhibition is riveting. We have great people in our midst."

De la Concha's conversations with his sitters were recorded on audio and video, resulting in portraits comprised of the traditional painted medium, video of the interview and painting process, and audio of the interview. All of these elements are incorporated in the exhibition-including fast-forward video that shows a portrait's creation in a matter of minutes. (Click here to watch the videos.)

Kennedy says, "The three-fold aspect of this project is what is utterly innovative about it. We're taking a conventional, traditional method of making portraits-oil on canvas-and then applying it to a very contemporary form of record."

According to de la Concha, "In Spanish, we have the word 'grabar,' which has the double meaning of 'engraving' and 'recording.' That's what these portraits are about, as registering a particular person both visually and in audio."

De la Concha adds that he intentionally worked within the two-hour constraint, "to feel this presence as a unique moment."

duthuBruce Duthu '80 (Félix de la Concha, oil on linen. collection of the artist)
During his sitting, Professor of Native American Studies Bruce Duthu '80 spoke about conflicts related to his growing up in a United Houma Nation of Louisiana tribal community located in a segregated area.

"I believe deeply in the force of personal narratives to illuminate sources of conflict between and among people and to highlight pathways to reconciliation-if only at the interpersonal level at first," he says. "Combining personal narratives with portraits struck me as a creative, inspired project to advance this form of community understanding."

ellisEvelynn Ellis (Félix de la Concha, oil on linen. collection of the artist)
During her portrait session, Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Evelynn Ellis discussed the difficulty of living far away from her hometown in Sawyerville, Alabama.

Though Ellis was surprised at how soothing it could be to talk about certain issues, she adds that, "it was exhausting to talk about other topics. At Dartmouth, I am working in a position where I can help create a welcoming environment for those like myself who grew up in poor, rural communities. But I often feel guilty that I am not back in the Deep South using my four college degrees in my own struggling community."

Ellis believes that the individual portraits shown in "Private Portraits/Public Conversations" will foster closer relationships within Dartmouth.

"I was told when I interviewed at Dartmouth that the College is a family of people. I believe people interact in a more respectful manner if they know their neighbors beyond the superficial. I hope people see the exhibition and know that Dartmouth is so many faces, so many moments of human pains and joys. It is what makes a family a family."

The exhibition is on display in the Baker Library main corridor and the Hood Museum of Art from April 4 through Sept. 27, 2009. It is supported by gifts from Constance and Walter Burke '44 and Yoko Otani Homma and Shunichi Homma M.D. '77.



Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 3/27/09