“One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things”
(Henry Miller, 1891-1980).
An art collection creates unity and cohesion by being reflective of the world’s history. Within each collection a narrative begins to form, thus bridging the gap between time and place into one singular moment within the gallery space. The Collections of Hobart and William Smith Colleges bring together artworks from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America. This collective diversity reflects the Colleges’ on-going efforts to create an atmosphere which embraces students’ and our community’s multiplicity of knowledge and experience.
Throughout North American history, especially the Pre-Columbian era, artists in developing societies and cultures were impacted by their experiences and surroundings. Religion, the environment, as well as the eventual influence of various other cultures, were at the core of North American art. Contemporary South American art flourished under the influence of political controversy and European supremacy. From these factors grew a distinctive art and culture of personal experiences, independent identification, and tradition.
European art introduced new mediums and techniques. A harmonious marriage formed between tradition and emerging modernity within works of art. European culture allowed modern thought to demonstrate conceptual power, giving the artist a capacity to
discover the unseen inside the ordinary. African art, both functional and aesthetic, echoes the traditions of its cultural origins. The forms present in African art would later help influence the development of artistic movements in Europe, such as Cubism.
Due to Asia’s vast size and population, the art, like Asia’s inhabitants, represents a myriad of cultures and ideals. Both secular and religious works are on display in this exhibition. Though Australia is a country whose foundation was established by Europeans, the artworks shown are rooted in Aboriginal tradition. The two works in this exhibition call upon patterned design and naturally occurring pigments to honor the continent’s original identity.
In experiencing this exhibition, we can consider why we travel to see art. For students of art and architecture, no matter their age, the reason to travel to study is a pursuit of authenticity. Even when we walk across campus to see art from six out of the seven continents in the Davis Gallery, we are having a different experience than we would on a computer screen, the page of a book, or in a classroom.