Through two grants, worth a total of $1.2 million, Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., plans to explore issues of identity and race through art via new courses focused on work from diverse and traditionally underrepresented artists.
An $840,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — along with $360,000 provided by the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation and the college — will allow Skidmore to enhance the way its Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery uses its collection. Located on the college’s campus, the Tang Museum’s mission is to “awaken the community to the richness and diversity of the human experience through the medium of art,” its website says.
This three-year initiative, made possible by the grants, is part of the college’s commitment to diversity, integrated learning, and community engagement.
“The focus on diversity, access, and collections will bolster the work the college does to ensure that every Skidmore student develops the intercultural understanding and global awareness necessary to thrive in this complex and increasingly interconnected world,” Skidmore College President Philip Glotzbach said in a press release.
Students and faculty are encouraged to consider the Tang Museum an important “aspect of the interdisciplinary undergraduate liberal arts education” provided by Skidmore. And with this new initiative, students, faculty, and museum staff will work together to create new course offerings using exhibits from the museum as a “catalyst for conversations.” Through these classes, students will explore important topics by making connections between artwork and critical contemporary issues.
“The Tang Museum’s collection is particularly strong in works of art that speak about race and identity — in the last five years, more than half of our exhibitions focused on either diverse or traditionally underrepresented artists, such as our current survey of painter Alma Thomas,” Dayton Director of the Tang Museum Ian Berry said in a press release. “We are excited to deepen the use of the collection to explore these ideas, realities, and questions.
“… A leading part of our mission is to foster inclusion and critical discussions through the arts, and we are continuing to grow both our collection and our programming to serve as a national model on this front.”
The Tang Museum will also work with the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium, local community colleges, area school districts, and community groups that serve racially and ethnically diverse populations to explore diversity and societal issues through art.