L.C. Bates Summer Exhibition 2020:
Maine Waters and its Inhabitants
Welcome Words – Véronique Plesch, Professor, Colby College
With Maine Waters and its Inhabitants and for the eleventh time, two Colby students are guest curators for the L.C. Bates museum’s summer exhibition. It was first in 2010 that two art majors, Yuri Maruyama and Margaret Fasel (both from the class of ’12), organized Bones: A Magnetic Reaction; the following year, the experience was formalized into a curatorial practicum, which I oversee and for which the students receive academic credit. I cannot stress enough what a wonderful opportunity this practicum offers: students get to experience every aspect of the process of curating an exhibition: from selecting the artists and contacting them, to choosing the works, and finally mounting the show; along with a myriad of other tasks: filling out insurance forms, producing labels, writing press releases, or organizing public programs such as workshops with featured artists.
In keeping with the L.C. Bates Museum’s collections and activities, the summer exhibition always explores different aspects of Maine’s natural world. In recent years, and to take just a few examples, the shows have looked at the Maine landscape through the seasons, have considered the debt it owes to the glaciers that have shaped it, they have shifted their attention up to the sky and back down to human’s place in the natural landscape. We have wandered in the fields and open spaces and stepped inside the forests. The 2017 exhibition, Maine Wood(s) was not only about the landscape but also shed light on how our environment provides an important artistic material, wood, and thus contributed a reflection on the making of art—a theme and approach not unlike that of the 2011 show Drawing from the Collections, when artists came to sketch in the museum and their works were displayed next to their sources of inspiration. In 2018, we looked at birds but, in an unexpected turn, we included those living in urban settings. Last year was dedicated to Atmospheric Water and the many forms it can take: snow, ice, rain, fog, and clouds. This year’s exhibition continues this aquatic theme but we focus on the humans and animals that inhabit Maine’s many bodies of water.
Soon after Colby students were sent home on 15 March and the state closed down due to the pandemic of COVID-19, and since it was unclear when the museum would reopen, we decided to continue work for the exhibition and present it online. Coincidentally, this past spring semester I had been teaching a Humanities Lab course in which students created a website for the L.C. Bates Museum, which provided a logical home for the virtual show. This might be one of the silver linings of the health crisis: there will be a lasting visual record of the exhibition and visitors from far away will get to enjoy these depictions of Maine waterways and of their denizens.
What will be sorely missed is the show’s opening reception, a festive occasion for artists, Colby students, faculty, and staff, along with community members, to come together in a convivial celebration of creativity and of Maine nature. In 2015, Colby’s Center for the Arts and Humanities agreed to partner with us and provide funding for the reception, which, instead of taking place as had been the tradition later in the summer, was moved to the last week of classes so students could attend.
The reception, during which some of the featured artists say a few words on their works, would allow me to present the practicum and introduce the student curators. It would also be the occasion for expressing our heartfelt thanks to the L.C. Bates Museum and, in particular, to its director, the formidable Deborah Staber, who along with her dedicated staff make this possible at all.
Viewing the exhibition:
Maine Waters and its Inhabitants
Water occupies 12,8% of Maine and is essential to its landscape, with a coastline that runs for at least 230 miles along the Atlantic ocean, with many lakes (from large ones—Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in New England—to small lakes and ponds), and a myriad rivers (the Kennebec flows for about 150 miles and before it joins the Kennebec, the Androscoggin travels 175 miles, the Penobscot River and its many tributaries is about 350 miles long, and about 210 miles of the St. John River run between Maine and Canada). The 2020 L.C. Bates summer exhibition aims to explore the inhabitants of Maine’s aquatic world, whether they live in the water, on it, or near it.
2020 Exhibition Student Curators
Lola Collins ’20
Lola Collins will be a graduating senior majoring in art history and anthropology. She enjoys exploring questions surrounding art and the curatorial. Because she would like to go into curating after Colby, she jumped at the idea to explore Maine artists and the special personality of the L.C. Bates Museum.
Sabina Garibovic ’22
Sabina is a rising junior majoring in Studio Art and French Studies. Experimenting in various artistic mediums, she most enjoys digital illustration, and has recently picked up printmaking. She was excited to get the experience of working with artists from all over Maine, and was inspired by the L.C. Bates Museum’s charming character and its focus on the natural world. Some day, she would like to go into the business of graphic design, eventually hoping to illustrate her own graphic novel.