How does the writing we encounter in museums, such as introductory texts for exhibitions, extended object labels, and catalogue essays, influence our perception of an exhibition or a work of art? Can this writing radically shift our understanding of the objects on view?
These questions form the basis for Contexts, an exhibition of works from the Tang collections that serves as a research site for Skidmore students enrolled in English 205D, “Writing for Museums.” For this project, each student in the course chooses three pieces from the exhibition to frame with texts that offer dual perspectives on their selections. These texts are presented here as part of a special web feature developed in conjunction with the exhibition.
Fostering experimental object-based teaching and bringing student work into the gallery is an important part of the mission of The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery. Take a moment to explore what students have written about the works in Contexts and consider how their writing influences your process of viewing the artworks and their display.
What pieces would you group together? What would you say — or not say — about these objects and their relationship to one another?
The works in Contexts were selected by Alison Barnes, Lecturer in the Department of English at Skidmore College, and Ginny Kollak, Curatorial Assistant at the Tang Museum.
“Writing for Museums” is taught by Alison Barnes. Student participants include: Chrissy Bach ’07, Alyce Delbridge ’09, Rachel Downes ’09, Sarah Faude ’09, Jordan Klein ’10, David Lahna ’07, Megan Martin ’08, Catherine Mayell ’10, Sara Mintz ’07, Daniel Schrager ’07, Alex Selby ’08, Vicky Wasik ’07, and Vanessa Weber ’09.