Section: Arts

Art Loan unveils new pieces to brighten up Kenyon dorms

Twelve new-to-campus artworks are currently on display in the Meier-Draudt Classroom in The Gund, and they’re all looking for student dorms to call home for the semester. These pieces represent a selection of newly acquired artworks for The Gund’s Art Loan program, which allows Kenyon students to take a piece of the gallery home to their dorm every semester.

Collections Manager & Registrar Robin Goodman has organized Art Loan in previous years, but this year Post-Baccalaureate Fellow in Museum Practices and Arts Administration Tillie Wang ’23 is taking on the task. With the database to maintain, inventory to take and frames to check, running Art Loan is no small feat, especially as the collection grows.

As Wang described Art Loan, “It’s very much a student-driven, student-led effort to get art that students would want to live with into their dorms.” With this in mind, The Gund is constantly looking for ways to update the Art Loan collection.

Last semester, Kenyon students on The Gund Associates Curatorial Team undertook this task as they embarked on the project of deciding which artworks would best contribute to the Art Loan collection.

“When doing this process we went through lists of popular past Art Loan works and considered the compositional elements that made them interesting to the current student population,” Emma Kang ’25, co-leader of the team, said.

Beyond solely selecting visually arresting pieces, the team explored the artists and themes represented in the artworks. “We hoped to expand the collections’ reach by including works which were both visually and topically engaging,” Olivia Rataezyk ’24, the other Curatorial co-leader, explained.

Throughout the process, the Curatorial Team kept student interests central, with associates asking friends what types of work they would want in their dorm rooms. As associates, under the guidance of the Collections team, installed larger Art Loan pieces in dorms, the Curatorial Team found even more valuable insights.

“Having helped with installations, it was exciting to get to select new pieces for the collection by envisioning the different environments pieces were placed in,” Will Madden ’26, a Curatorial associate, added. “I got to see how students styled their pieces, and which students were interested in what. That informed my selections just as much as our research.”

Wang had five Art Loan pieces during her time as a student. She was always eager to read the notebooks that accompany the works as they move from dorm to dorm, ready to be filled with comments, poetry or whatever each student is inspired by the artwork to contribute. “I think my favorite part about Art Loan is getting to read what people write in the notebooks about how the work has been with them through ups and downs, what their friends think of the piece,” she said, thumbing through the manila envelopes containing the notebooks and ready to be sent out with their respective art pieces. The inside flap of each notebook has a label providing context about the artist’s practice or the work itself. “I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that some of these works are by really cool artists, and [Art Loan includes] a lot of contemporary works.”

One artist that Wang mentioned, straddling the “cool” and “contemporary,” is Sarah Sze, whose print Plein Air is one of the pieces available this semester. Sze has exhibited at such institutions as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and is just one of many exciting artists whose work Kenyon students can have hanging in their dorms.

Wang describes one student’s revelation captured in the pages of the art piece’s notebook: “They wrote a five-page monologue about realizing that there was another version of this print in the Whitney or the MoMA or something. And they were like ‘I can’t believe you’re trusting me with this piece. It’s in the MoMA. I just looked up the artist.’ It’s a really funny entry, and it’s from one of the first years we did Art Loan.”

Artists represented in the collection also have close connections with The Gund and Kenyon, with a photograph available for Art Loan by Dawoud Bey, the artist whose Trees and Barn inspired the theme for The Annex Fall 2023.

Madden is excited about the newly-added Faith Ringgold print, Echoes of Harlem. “Its visual impact could really heighten someone’s space, and it helps align the Art Loan collection with our goal of representing students’ interests.” It is also connected to The Gund’s collection which proudly includes Faith Ringgold’s quilt, Dancing at the Louvre.

Students have the opportunity to visit the new Art Loan works in the Meier-Draudt Classroom in the Gund Gallery until Friday, the same day the Art Loan ballot form closes. With any luck they will have the opportunity to elevate their dorm decor and scrawl their musings in the notebook that comes with the work, thus contributing to — or beginning — the legacy of students who have lived with the piece.

“I hope we chose works that interest students and that some of them may be chosen this semester,” Kang said.

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