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Colby Museum of Arts held annual spring open house celebration virtually

This year, the Colby College Museum of Art held its spring open house celebration virtually and addressed two exhibitions opening this month: “Act of Sight,” the Tsiaras Family Photography Collection, and “The Poetics of Atmosphere,” Lorna Simpson’s Cloudscape and Other Works from the Collection.

“The Poetics of Atmosphere” can be seen on the museum’s website alongside an introduction of the artist and a pre-recorded virtual tour of the exhibition with Siera Hyte. It will be available until April 17.

The Colby Museum of Arts also held a virtual gallery tour at 6 p.m. on Feb. 24 celebrating the “Act of Sight” Collection exhibition, which will be open until August 14.

Jacqueline Terrassa, the Carolyn Muzzy Director of the Museum, offered an introduction to the exhibition.

Terrassa said that a museum collection involves more than acquiring items; it is also related to the notion of “stewardship.”

She expressed gratitude towards the Tsiaras family, Dr. William ‘68, and Nancy Meyer Tsiaras ‘68.

“We are now very fortunate to be the stewards of the Tsiaras Family Photography Collection,” she said.

Terrassa explained that the collection is significant to the College for several reasons. It gathers more than 500 works of art from the 1880s to the present, including pioneer artworks and works of lesser-known but still important photographers.

This collection also provides audiences with insights about the history of the mediums used and their relations to “American social, environmental, and economical situations and dynamics.”

Terrassa also emphasized the importance of continual learning and referenced William and Nancy Tsaiaras.

“At a liberal arts college, I think it’s really valuable that Bill and Nancy model for students and for all of us [that] continual learning [is] not simply an idea but a practice. They also demonstrate that an appreciation for art can be part of this ongoing process,” she said.

Finally, Terrassa explained that when William and Nancy Tsiaras studied at Colby, the College did not have many photography collections, so they also hoped this collection would provide resources for the museum and highlight the importance of photography as a medium.

Beth Finch, Chief Curator of the Museum, then gave the audience a virtual tour of the gallery. She began by describing the design of the exhibition.

“The designer was inspired by the human field of view, [specifically] central view at first and then peripheral visions from near, mid, and then far peripheral,” she said. “Both floors of the exhibition also [generate] a sense of fiction or metaphor for this act of sight […] which also creates unity.”

Finch then introduced different sections of the exhibition categorized by various thematic avenues: Act of Sight, a Desire to Know, Being Seen, and Little America.

Each section includes works by different groups of photographers in various historical periods that impacted and shaped the ideology of the country, such as photos related to the Farm Security Administration and Photo League.

At the end of the virtual session, Finch said that there will be more in-person events at the museum in the coming months.

“The first session will be on March 10th, and it is called ‘Learning to Look: the Practice of Photography,” she said. “It will take Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind’s works as foundation and teachers, but will also look at how photography can and has been in very powerful ways [functioning] as a self-taught medium.”

~ Kristen Shen ’24

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