“Somehow a Past”: New England Regionalism, 1900 to 1960 is a symposium hosted by the Colby College Museum of Art on October 6, 2017.

Taking its title from the autobiography of Marsden Hartley, an artist closely associated with Maine, the symposium will explore the interest in regional, New England subjects among American artists who contributed to the development of modernism. This event is free and open to the public and reservations are not needed. Please contact Elizabeth Finch at [email protected] for more information.

In the 1930s and 40s, the American Midwest became the nationally recognized locus of Regionalism, an artistic movement that located quintessential American identities chiefly in rural and suburban contexts. But decades earlier, artists were drawn to the northeastern states, associating them with idealized conceptions of originality and authenticity. Inspired by the example of Winslow Homer, who famously settled on the Maine coast in 1883, a culture of New England artists’ colonies emerged at the turn of the century. These seasonal communities complemented art production in urban centers well into the post-World War II era, while a concurrent fascination for New England folk art spread from artists and collectors to museums.

This Colby symposium will explore such questions as: What were New England’s regional identities during the turbulent twentieth century and how were they instrumentalized by artists in search of an artistic home? In what distinctive ways did the rural northeast contribute to modernism in the United States? How did the regional impulse feed enduring artistic conceptions of America’s geographical, cultural, and political origins? What do these ideas about place reveal about American art and its histories, and what do they obscure?

Symposium Committee:

Elizabeth Finch, Lunder Curator of American Art, Colby College Museum of Art
Shalini Le Gall, Curator of Academic Programs, Colby College Museum of Art
Lauren Lessing, Mirken Director of Academic and Public Programs, Colby College Museum of Art
Tanya Sheehan, William R. Kenan, Jr. Associate Professor of Art and Chair of the Art Department, Colby College
Diana Tuite, Katz Curator, Colby College Museum of Art