The Restless Collection, led by San Francisco-based independent curator Jordan Stein with curatorial staff from the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA), investigates the WCMA permanent collection and other regional art collections as resources for the Williams College community and beyond. With an eye toward the coming Presidential election and ideas of resistance, agitation, and power, students will conduct both a broad survey of the WCMA collection and in-depth case studies of several artworks. The course’s final project includes generating a speculative exhibition proposal against the backdrop of the current political moment.
Fundamental questions include: How is an art collection assembled, let alone maintained and mediated? How is a collection evidence of a certain philosophy or proof of a particular position? Should collecting habits change in times of significant political disquiet? What is an exhibition and who governs the terms of its engagement? How has the form been activated not only by curators, but also by artists as a poem, proposal, or declaration? Through reading, dialogue, and hands-on learning, we develop strategies for how to dust off, contextualize, and re-contextualize complex collection artworks in public art galleries by employing “the exhibition” as a vehicle for ideas.
The course further offers the chance to collaborate with WMCA and WC staff, including representatives from various departments, including archives, curatorial, collections, engagement, digital media, installation/preparation, and more. Potential site visits include Hancock Shaker Village, Bennington Museum, Williamstown Historical Society, and other special meetings.
Adjunct Instructor Bio: Jordan Stein is an independent curator and collaborator with an interest in expanded models and methods of exhibition-making, over-looked and under-sung histories of art, and linking the past and present through the varied presentation of critical objects, non-objects, and ideas. He has organized exhibitions in a variety of institutions and scales, including the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Artists Space (New York), Matthew Marks Gallery (New York), the Renaissance Society (Chicago), The Glass House (New Canaan, CT), and San Francisco City Hall. He is a co-founder of the interdisciplinary collaborative group Will Brown, which realized over three dozen exhibitions and programs in their Mission District storefront from 2012-2015 before working parasitically with other organizations. He founded Cushion Works, a just-in-time gallery on the second floor of an active cushion-making workshop, in 2017. With Will Brown, he is the author of Bruce Conner: Brass Handles, and with Jason Fulford is the editor of Where to Score, a collection of hippie-era classified advertisements. Please see http://jordanstein.com/ for more information.
Format: lecture; workshop/seminar
Grading: pass/fail only
keen interest in museums, art collections and culture
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit: