Hi! I’m Maggie Merrell, the President of the History of Art Majors Society at Cornell University. I grew up in an area immersed in the arts. Sag Harbor, New York is the home of April Gornik and Eric Fischl’s waterfront view, minutes away from Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning’s respective studios in Springs and the annual influx of internationally renowned artistic figures for the Hamptons International Film Festival in East Hampton. I have always known that I wanted to be in the art world and, through my experience with HAMS, I have been able to acquaint myself with different facets of the organizational side of the art business. It is a wonderful and unique experience that I hope to be able to share through this blog.
I first heard of the History of Art Majors Society through a department-wide email blast calling all majors to a meeting at 4:30 on a fall Tuesday in the Art History Department Gallery. I had a minor conflict and, since I did not quite understand the unique nature of this Society, decided not to attend the meeting. It was not until a few months later that I understood that I had missed out on an amazing opportunity. Come the next fall, I made sure to become involved as soon as possible, and, as the current President, I hope to broaden awareness of the organization and the terrific, unusual work that we do. I want to make sure that nobody makes the mistake I made my sophomore year, and misses profiting from all HAMS has to offer.
It’s not unusual for Art History students to curate on-campus exhibitions: institutions throughout the world offer such programs, complete with a professor and syllabus and final class-curated exhibition. At Cornell, however, HAMS members produce their own exhibition, on their own time and as a self-guided, ungraded learning experience. We have no handbook and each year must create our own organization and set of plans to mount our exhibit: if we miss deadlines, fail to organize grants or forget to complete catalogue statements there will be no publication, no funding and, in essence, no exhibition. The onus is 100% upon the members of the organization. It is this independent nature of HAMS that sets the organization apart from similar groups at other Universities.
Although we operate independently of both the Art History Department and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, HAMS is grateful to our academic advisor and our liaison at the museum. We benefit from their guidance and know-how in managing deadlines and with the direct handling of art, as well as from their invaluable insights as professionals in the field. Curating a guest exhibition is difficult and time-consuming, and their generous engagement helps us to avoid many pitfalls.
This blog intends to document the process of creating our Spring 2014 HAMS exhibit at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. We hope to establish a new HAMS tradition and to provide valuable guidance for HAMS members of the future. We also plan to use this blog as a sounding board for our ideas and to expand the reach of HAMS beyond the Cornell campus and surrounding Ithaca. Please feel free to follow our progress, to discuss the exhibit here even if you are not one of the HAMS hard at work in the basement of the Johnson Museum. We’d love you to become involved with our upcoming show!
Our 2012 Gallery Space – Before Installation!