What if We Interacted with Artworks in the Way We interact with Books in a Library?

February 24, 2017

What if we interacted with artworks in the way we interact with books in a library?

That’s the question that artist and Greenfield Community College adjunct faculty Amber Scoon has explored in her work since she spent time in the library at the American Academy in Rome. It also is the question Amber explores in The Library, her current exhibition in GCC’s South Gallery. As Amber explained, “The installation is set up so the audience can take an artwork from the wall and sit with it, look at it, feel it, and draw it. It is a collection of images, thoughts, homes, imaginary places, memories, research, and objects of importance.”

Amber continued, “My exhibition is an experiment in allowing artworks to function in the world, in a way that they do not usually function. I want to allow them to create a space of respite and curiosity… and also the art objects to become reference objects for research and inspiration. I want the objects to be touched and handled, just as you would interact with books in a library. And I want the space to feel like a public library where everyone is welcome and the objects belong to everyone, rather than a gallery space, which is often welcoming only to certain kinds of people and the objects are un-touchable.”

In creating her exhibition, Scoon echoes the Art Department’s welcome to the diverse students who study in the Department. GCC is a place where students explore art in many forms, including photography, video, painting and drawing, and computer arts. Art Department Chair Paul Lindale said, “The Art Department at GCC recognizes the inherent power of the visual image as a critical reflection of our culture and that fine art encompasses all media and forms of creative expression. Our programs embody this philosophy and provide our students with a strong visual arts foundation combining the traditions of the past with a contemporary arts practice. Art students build on this foundation through the exploration of specific media of their own choosing. Upon graduation our students transfer to some of the finest art schools across the country.”

Amber Scoon is an artist, philosopher, parent, community member, and teacher from Pelham. She teaches Drawing and Art Now at GCC and at the Institute for Critical Philosophy at the Global Center for Advanced Studies. Amber said, “All students thrive when they are treated with respect and challenged. In this way, students at GCC are just like all students around the world. At GCC, students are hardworking, diverse, curious, and motivated.”

In her upcoming lecture on March 1, Amber Scoon: Diversity in Education, Amber tells stories from her own experience about the necessity of honoring diversity in education. She said, “Diversity is a theme that has always been present in my life. I have traveled and taught in different countries and diverse parts of the USA. I enjoy encountering diverse ideas and ways of living.”

“Amber’s ability to combine philosophy, political consciousness, and art is a model for what GCC holds close to its heart in a Liberal Arts education,” said GCC Dean of Humanities Leo Hwang. “A Liberal Arts education equips us with tools to make meaning out of the tragedies and joys we witness and experience in our lives. It allows us tackle the day-to-day critical decisions about what is important and how that impacts the choices we make about where we live and what activities we engage in. And, a Liberal Arts education allows us to explore the larger questions of what we value and how we decide to shape our passions, abilities, and endeavors into a life mission. Amber’s lecture synthesizes the skills and tools of an artist with the critical thinking and creativity necessary to live a meaningful life while dealing with all the changes and challenges that the world brings.”

Amber Scoon received her BS from New York University, her MFA in painting from American University’s two-year program in Italy and her PhD in Philosophy, Art and Critical Thought from the European Graduate School in Switzerland. She is the John Berger Fellow at the European Graduate School and a Professor at the Institute for Critical Philosophy at the Global Center for Advanced Studies. In 2013, Amber published Quantum Art. Amber will soon publish the Second Edition of Quantum Art, Conversations and Uncertainty and ?, co‐written by Amber Scoon and Glenn Goldberg.

GCC’s Associate in Science Degree program in Visual Arts is comparable to the first two years of study in the visual arts at regional and national art schools. The Digital Media certificate program provides students with a strong foundation in art applications for digital media, such as imaging, sound, video, computer graphics, animation, and web site design.

If you are interested in Art, Dance, English, Music, Theater, Digital Media, or Web Development and Design, learn more and apply online at www.gcc.mass.edu or 413-775-1801.

By Mary McClintock, ’82