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Art Out Loud

All the new social distancing requirements that have been implemented on campus this year mean many of us who are attending in person classes have probably found ourselves in some non-traditional classrooms. Last fall, the Purchase College Conservatory of Theatre Arts took over the Neuberger Museum’s massive South Gallery for some of its courses.  The new location led to an unexpected opportunity for collaboration.

The Voice II class taught by Lecturer in Acting Liam Joynt was one of the groups that met in the museum. Conversations between Professor Joynt and NEU staff led to an idea for the students to narrate the stories behind objects in the museum’s collection.

“The BFA students are in a conservatory environment designed to challenge and develop them as artists,” explained Joynt. “The engagement with a world-class organization like the Neuberger, whose collection includes some of the great artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, both inspired and pushed our students to perform at their highest level.”

All of the students in the Voice II class were from Company 47. Each student picked two works that stood out to them and then recorded a short description about their chosen pieces of art. Some students chose works from the museum’s collection of Latin and South American arts, which gave them a chance to narrate names and phrases in languages other than English.

The narrations have been published, two per week, since early December in the Open Classroom section of the museum’s website. The entire set of 28 digital “Art Out Loud” stories will be published by the end of this month.

Kristen Lindberg, the Neuberger’s Associate Curator of Education for Academic Programs, runs the museum’s Open Classroom program that is responsible for coming up with ways to join Purchase curriculum and the museum’s resources. With so many students and staff working remotely last semester, she told me the focus shifted from performances inside the museum’s galleries to creative new types of partnerships. 

“While thinking about how to offer digital collection imagery during the museum’s closure, we felt that a narrated visual would allow for a ‘slow-looking’ visitor experience,” Kristen said.  “Purchase’s Voice II students added depth and variety to the voiceovers with their training and personal styles, and the collaborative aspect aligned with our identity as an academic art museum. I especially enjoyed reading why the students chose the works they did. They all did a fantastic job and Liam was a great partner!”

In addition to the narration, they were invited to include notes on why the specific piece they chose stood out to them.

Sophie Manuguerra said she was “drawn immediately to Rufino Tamayo’s Torse de jeune fille because of the beautiful feminine imagery … it incorporates a more global interpretation of feminine sexuality and makes one think about how femininity is portrayed in art throughout the world.”

“The atmosphere of the painting drew me in,” said Sauriyan Sapkota, who narrated Horace Pippin’s Cabin in the Cotton. “You can almost hear the man playing his instrument surrounded by the gentle hum of the world around him.”

Madeleine Paulson, who narrated La Parisienne by Max Weber, “… was “so stunned by the beauty of the woman in the painting.… Something about the way she was painted felt full and vast but also delicate and graceful at the same time.”

Some of the works you’ll find in the Art Out Loud collection are also on view at the NEU this Spring in the Color and Motion, Ideas and Dreams: Modern and Contemporary Caribbean and South American Art from the Collection exhibition. Stay on the lookout for more on this show in next week’s Student Voices posting.

Eve Hlavatovic
Neuberger Museum of Art
Spring 2021 Communications Intern
NEU Student Voices Blogger