Students at Amherst College emphasize the importance of diversity in art within community

Attendees were asked to vote on a piece that would best fit the gallery

By Andrea Hanley, Collegian Correspondent

Citizens of the town of Amherst gathered at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College on Feb. 13 to hear students discuss works that could potentially become exhibits in the museum’s gallery.

The students featured in the discussion are currently enrolled in the Amherst College course “Collecting 101: Acquiring art of the Mead.”

The pieces up for consideration concerned modern social topics and took into account not only the works themselves but also the artists behind them. After a brief presentation of each piece, attendees were asked to vote on the piece that would best fit the Mead’s Gallery.

Camilo Ortiz, sophomore at Amherst College, presented the works of Emma Amos, an African American artist born in the 1930s with the goal of expressing more than one form of cultural awareness in her pieces.

“The Mead has a lot of very strong collections,” Ortiz said. “When I was observing how Emma would fit within the collection, I found that there really isn’t anyone like Emma Amos…so it became incredibly inherent that there is a very limited amount of contemporary and post political art, specifically, art that revolves around race relations…and I thought that Emma Amos would be the perfect foundation for expanding that part of the collection.”

Davis Brown, a junior, promoted the need for diversity in artists featured in the collection.

“We feel that Amherst as an institution preaches diversity and inclusion and this is successfully reflected in the student population,” Brown said. “However, we feel that the Mead is lacking some female artists of color and think that Diana Al-Hadid, a fantastic contemporary artist from Syria, would be a wonderful stepping stone of filling the need, and, would also satisfy the Mead’s goal to expand its contemporary art program in working to diversify its collection.”

Freshman Matthew Ezersky proceeded to provide background on the artist, as well as highlight physical features characteristic of Al-Hadid’s work.

“I think it would be great to have a work from this time in her career, she’s still young [37], and I think she’ll definitely continue to grow as an artist and become even more prolific than she already is,” Ezersky said.

“What is the true identity of the human race?” said Cosmo Brossy, a junior at Amherst College. “In an incredibly politically divisive time, [artists] Shivangi Ladha and Cedar Kirwin ask this question.”

In the works displayed, both Ladha and Kirwin endorsed acceptance in non-conforming gender expression.

“We think both these pieces would add to the Mead’s collection and are very relevant to classes and issues that the student body here at Amherst and the Five Colleges are interested in,” Brossy said.

Andrea Hanley can be reached at [email protected]