College funds LeWitt project

Holding true to its reputation as a stalwart supporter of the arts, the College has made a contribution of $1.8 million to fund the installation of MASS MoCA’s Sol LeWitt Drawing Retrospective. The donation jumpstarted the museum’s Berkshire Permanence Campaign, a local project launched in December to build the museum’s endowment and support its programs for years to come. Generous patrons throughout the art world have given to the broader Permanence Campaign, which is well on its way to reaching its $36 million goal.

The LeWitt project, which will serve to commemorate and honor the late artist, is a collaborative effort between MASS MoCA, the LeWitt studio and the Yale University Art Gallery. LeWitt, a contemporary American artist, was known for his use of geometric shapes and modular structures in his work, which included drawings, paintings and “structures” – his chosen alternative word for sculptures.

LeWitt has been the subject of many exhibitions in numerous institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. LeWitt helped to establish the movements of contemporary art and minimalism, and is well known for his Wall Drawings series; one drawing is displayed locally in the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA).

LeWitt’s art is distinctive because it leaves much of the creative process to others. LeWitt did not construct his own work, but rather left sets of plans or instructions that are often intentionally vague. This spirit of ingenuity epitomizes the Drawing Retrospective project. Students from Williams, Yale and MCLA will receive the unique opportunity to work alongside professionals in the field and experience a completely new dimension of hands-on artistic creation. “I can’t think of a better nourishing ground for our students to learn in,” said Lisa Corrin, director of the WCMA.

The installation will take place between April and November. It will cover almost three-quarters of an acre and require the combined efforts of artists and 40 “apprentice” interns to complete an estimated total of 93 wall drawings. The work will likely include painting, drawing, sponging, cleaning, scratching and rubbing. The six months of steady labor will produce an exhibit that will be open for at least 25 years, through 2033.

The College and MASS MoCA have maintained a strong relationship for over 10 years. Since the museum’s early conception on campus, the College has been involved in programmatic and financial aspects of its development. Likewise, Williams students, faculty and staff have benefited from the various programs and enriching activities at the museum, which has become a hub of creative and intellectual development in the art world. “We see these galleries as a permanent bridge to MASS MoCA,” Corrin said.

Its status as the largest center for contemporary, performing and visual arts in the U.S. has been an asset to the North Adams community and economy.

For any student interested in a paid position as a LeWitt wall drawing intern, information about the program and application process will by posted on the MASS MoCA Web site in the upcoming month.