Thursday, February 12, 2009

Beyond the Addison: Learning from Carl Andre

Today we hear from guest poster Kit Harris, Addison Gallery intern and former Phillips Academy student, regarding her recent Addison-related adventures:

My name is Kit Harris and I graduated from Phillips Academy in 2007. Now I attend Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. Even though I graduated two years ago, my connection with Andover has not diminished. This past summer I worked as an intern in the Registrar’s Office at the Addison.

At Hopkins, I am an Art History and International Studies double major with a minor in Museums & Societies. So, working at the Addison was the perfect choice for a summer job. In preparation for the Addison’s big move offsite while they undergo renovations, I spent the first month and a half organizing their exhibition and artist files and packing them into hundreds of boxes. When I was filing and sorting I had no idea how useful the information I was gleaning from my work would end up being.

This fall I took a class in the art history department that was called “Art After 1945”. The focus of the class was on American contemporary art. From day one of my class, when we were given a slide list of all of the works we were going to look at, many of the artists in the Addison’s collection were referenced. I was amazed to find that the Addison has works from every single major movement that we discussed in class.

It was absolutely invaluable to be able to picture in my head the works in the Addison’s collection that I had been reading about and filing papers on for the whole summer. I felt that I had a connection to the art we were learning about that no one in the class could parallel.

I think perhaps the best example of this was when we were discussing Carl Andre (a fellow Andover graduate). My professor, Kathryn Tuma, was talking about how radical his works with brick and slabs of stone are. Professor Tuma then went on to explain that the pieces of metal or brick were not connected to the ground at all. She said “If you’ve ever de-installed an Andre, then you know what I mean,” and laughed.

Clearly, she had meant for this to be a joke. But, I had actually de-installed an Andre! The Addison’s piece Secret Work (see left) had been on display when the museum closed in mid-July and I was lucky enough to be able to help the Addison's staff with the de-installation. After class, I went up to my professor to share my story and she was absolutely floored!

You can be sure that on my final exam, I didn’t even hesitate when asked to identify Carl Andre’s work or that of countless other artists so well represented by the Addison’s collection.

Kit Harris
Addison Gallery Intern

No comments: