Already a sparkling presence on Middle Path, the Gund Gallery is just getting warmed up.
Its footing secure, the Gund Gallery steps toward a larger role in learning opportunities, expanding its collection, and fostering a greater presence of art on campus.
The Gund Gallery Board of Directors unanimously approved a strategic plan in October for 2015–18. The strategic plan was initiated by the Office of the President and is the culmination of ten months of work by consultant Tom Shapiro of Cultural Strategy Partners of Chicago and a Kenyon advisory team representing the administration, gallery board members, alumni, faculty, and the larger community, including gallery director Natalie Marsh.
David Horvitz ’74 H’98, chair of the gallery board and a member of the Kenyon College Board of Trustees, praised the trajectory of the gallery “going from a blank slate to a fully developed program that rivals the best college museums and galleries in the country in just three short years.”
President Sean Decatur endorsed the strategic plan. “The Graham Gund Gallery has quickly established itself as an invaluable part of the Kenyon learning experience,” Decatur said. “The exhibitions, which are first-rate, and the growth of our permanent collection create opportunities for faculty and students in all disciplines. The gallery brings a distinct energy to our community.”
“Our gallery is steadfastly focused on student learning and artistic excellence,” Marsh said. “The gallery is vital to Kenyon’s educational mission, and we have an emphasis on connecting great art from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to all of our students.”
Objectives in the strategic plan include enhancing interdisciplinary and collaborative learning experiences while raising Kenyon’s profile to attract new interest to the College and to the gallery.
The strategic plan includes the development in phases of several auxiliary galleries and sites supported by the gallery staff and its resources. These are spaces in which faculty, student, and collection exhibitions and many other projects may be realized as part of a “creative campus” initiative increasing venues dedicated to art and visual culture. With enhanced commitments to senior studio art exercises, the gallery will host a student exhibition toward the end of each academic year.
Professor of Art Karen Snouffer, a member of the planning advisory team, described the gallery as “an essential component” for students of art. “The exhibitions are utilized in many studio art courses, as we want both art majors and nonmajors to be aware of the forceful presence that contemporary art has in our culture and the world and how that heightened awareness can affect their own art making,” Snouffer said. “The curriculum for our senior art majors, especially, is fully dependent on the Gund Gallery in that we expect them to participate in intense experiential learning.”
Art students are not alone in taking advantage of the gallery, Snouffer said. Exhibitions of conceptual relevance to the curriculum and stimulating programs have generated opportunities for faculty and students to appreciate the role of contemporary art across the spectrum of the liberal arts.
In the 2013-14 academic year, the gallery served a third of Kenyon students through course-related visits and engaged forty percent of the faculty in collaboration with academic and mission-oriented activities. The gallery has also developed a robust internship program.
James Keller, chair of the faculty and associate professor of chemistry, endorsed the emphasis on student engagement in the strategic plan. “The gallery boasts ever-increasing foot traffic through its doors and more and more examples of coordination with classroom instructors,” Keller said.
Shapiro described the building as extraordinary with a growing permanent collection of the highest caliber. “The roster of artists, the internationally recognized people brought to the campus, is very impressive,” he said. “The idea of expanding the imprint of the visual arts and the Gund Gallery beyond its own walls is already taking place, and there will be more.