Georges Barbier, from the Fatherless Children of France catalogue, 1918, Archives and Distinctive Collections, College of the Holy Cross. Photo by John Buckingham.
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery will present works from College of the Holy Cross’ various collections from January 24 – February 20, 2022 in the exhibition “A Mirror to the World: Two Centuries of Collecting at Holy Cross,” curated by Meredith Fluke, director of the Cantor Art Gallery.
Since its founding in the mid-19th century, the College of the Holy Cross has attracted gifts of art and precious objects to its campus. Given by alumni, faculty and other friends of the College, these works are meant to support both the liberal arts ideas and curriculum for Holy Cross students past, present and future.
As the Cantor Art Gallery prepares for its move into the Prior Performing Arts Center, which is slated to open later this year, Fluke has organized this exhibition in order to study, contemplate and prepare the permanent collection, as well as consider it in relation to other collections on campus. This exhibition explores the question: what is an art collection for Holy Cross, what is its purpose and how do we plan for its future?
Among the works to be presented are bronze sculptures by Auguste Rodin, given to the College by Iris and B. Gerald Cantor in the late 1970s to early 1980s, prior to a generous gift made by them which helped to establish the Cantor Art Gallery on campus in 1983. The Cantors and former president of Holy Cross, Rev. John E. Brooks, S.J., enjoyed a friendship and mutual love of and belief in the power of the arts to enrich and transform the lives of students.
Brooks noted during the inaugural exhibition events at the Cantor Art Gallery that “the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery on campus affords the entire Holy Cross community an opportunity to experience that artistic beauty which so readily helps us attain the openness and tolerance necessary if we are to understand who we are and how we relate to one another.”
Fluke underscored Brooks’ earlier remarks by adding “the purpose of collecting art in an educational institution is to offer students the opportunity to encounter works directly that support their broader appreciation and understanding of the world around them – aesthetically, culturally and historically. It is our obligation as stewards of these materials to research, protect and conserve these objects, so that we can both provide access to them, and explore their meanings to the benefit of Holy Cross students and wider audiences.”
Other artworks on display will be representative of the Cantor Art Gallery’s collection, including textiles from Southeast Asia, contemporary photography and works on paper and recent gifts from Holy Cross alumni. The exhibition will also feature additional objects from the Holy Cross archives, such as a series of works from the “Fatherless Children of France” portfolio: an assembly of artworks, letters and other materials sold to support orphans of World War I. Also included will be Russian icons from archives, chalices from Saint Joseph’s Chapel on campus, and a number of oil paintings from College collections that have been recently restored, alongside their historic frames.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in-gallery visits from off-campus visitors will require proof of vaccination status, masks and social distancing practices.
Several related presentations are scheduled during the run of the exhibition and are listed below.
Monday, January 31, 4:30 p.m.
Virtual Event (Zoom webinar)
“A Collection for Holy Cross: Past, Present and Future”
James Welu, director emeritus, Worcester Art Museum in conversation with Meredith Fluke, director, Cantor Art Gallery
Wednesday, February 9, 12:15 – 1 p.m.
Gallery Talk (in person)
“2 Centuries of Collections for Teaching”
Amy Adams, professor, Russian studies and
Susan Rodgers, professor emerita, anthropology
Thursday, February 16, 4:30 p.m.
Virtual Event (Zoom meeting)
“Conserving Holy Cross Collections”
Theresa Carmichael, paintings conservator and Susan Jackson, frames conservator
Register for Zoom virtual events on the Cantor’s website.
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