Separate Board to Oversee Gund Gallery
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
“It’s a shame to have something that takes up a lot of space, but that nobody uses,” Marsh said. “ … [But at Kenyon,] there’s nothing that we really need to get rid of or should get rid of.”
The new Board will help handle such controversial issues, Marsh said.
“This special Board for the Gallery is made up of people who have already served on other boards at museums around the country, so they understand the sticky legal and ethical issues related to collecting, but also the financial side of collecting … so that our operations can provide the highest quality art and exhibitions,” she said.
Both Samhat and Marsh said the switch was always an eventual goal for the Gallery, but as recently as two weeks ago, few of the faculty members involved in planning the Gallery knew the move was in the works.
“We didn’t hear any discussion, during the planning stages, that the Gallery would become a separate entity,” Dwyer said. “I think I would have been aware of it, because I certainly understand how The Kenyon Review is set up: if someone had spoken of the Gallery as an analogous entity to The Kenyon Review, I think I would have noted that.”
Members of the studio art department were also unaware of the move until the Collegian informed them of the change in tax status, according to Department Chair Marcella Hackbardt, who worked with the College to plan the Gallery over the past four or five years.
The faculty were not notified of the transition because “it’s really an administrative change — nothing else changes,” Samhat said. “There are benefits to donors through this kind of arrangement, oversight in terms of a constituted board … [but] the budgeting, the management of space, nothing changes. It’s more or less an administrative shift rather than a substantive shift in operating the Gallery.”
The lack of communication on the topic, however, is indicative of a larger set of communication problems between the Gallery and faculty members that both groups have been working to iron out this year.
As recently as the beginning of March, Marsh and the Gallery were not planning to host exhibitions featuring work by studio art faculty. When the College’s primary gallery was in Olin Library, such shows were hosted biennially. Faculty shows, like student shows, service only one department of the school — running counter to the Gallery’s objective of serving many departments.
“The Gallery is intended to, by and large, bring in work from outside. That’s its main focus,” Marsh said. “… Most of what academic museums try to do is develop and present exhibitions that can serve many different departments and curricula at the same time.”
Instead, Marsh planned to include relevant faculty artwork in larger shows. Professors of Studio Art Read Baldwin, Greg Spaid and Barry Gunderson have work in a current exhibition, “Persistence: The Rural in American Art,” alongside artists like William Eggleston, Andrew Wyeth and John Frederick Kensett.
Now, however, the Gallery has reversed its position, agreeing to host biennial faculty shows beginning in 2013-2014. Studio art faculty who take sabbaticals can also show their work upon their return.
Throughout the year, the Gallery and studio art faculty have discussed the topic, according to Nugent, who was involved “at arms’ length” in the conversations.
“Traditionally there have been those kinds of faculty shows here,” she said. “Not every college does it that way. An alternative would be to include faculty members in a larger show with other thematically related [pieces]. In the end, the faculty prefers to do it the way it has been done, so that’s what we’re going to do.”
Concerned that faculty shows would not be held in the new Gallery, members of the studio art faculty contacted Samhat earlier this year.
Samhat worked with Hackbardt and Marsh to devise a plan for scheduling and formatting faculty shows.
“We had to talk about it with all the different people involved in the mission of the Gallery, because now it has to serve the whole College,” Hackbardt said. “So we had to sort of go out and talk about that and see how that’s going to segue in with the other programs.”
Still, Samhat said there had always been rough plans for an exhibition of faculty work.
“I think we were always going to have a show — it was just sorting out the logistics and the scheme for how to have a faculty show,” Samhat said. “I think the Gallery director was aware that the Gallery serves the academic community and the larger community, and part of that is the tradition that we have here at Kenyon — having the student show and the faculty shows. We just hadn’t formalized it yet.”