Gracey Greco '17, this year's SOMSI intern, will present a symposium analyzing Monet's Haystack Paintings in Hill-Stead's Collection on February 24.
SOMSI Intern Gracey Greco '17 to Speak on Monet's Haystack Paintings
Gracey Greco '17, this year's Sonja Osborn Museum Studies Intern (SOMSI), will present a symposium entitled "Surrounding Atmosphere: A Consideration of Framed Views in Monet's Haystack Paintings in Hill-Stead's Collection" on Friday, February 24, at 7:30 pm in Westover's Common Room.
The presentation is open to the public and is offered free of charge; visitors must access the Common Room through Westover School's main entrance, which is located on the Middlebury Green.
The SOMSI program, which marks its ninth anniversary this year, enables a Westover junior or senior to broaden and enrich her dedication to Art History through practical experience in museum work. The program draws on the strengths and the shared heritage of two Connecticut institutions, Westover and Hill-Stead Museum, which originally was the home of Westover's architect, Theodate Pope.
For her symposium paper, Gracey is focusing on two of Claude Monet's famed haystack oil paintings – "Grainstacks, White Frost Effect" and "Grainstacks, in Bright Sunlight" – that are among the art work on exhibit at Hill-Stead; the two paintings were originally purchased by Theodate Pope's father. In her thesis statement for her talk, Gracey noted, "By analyzing the framed view as ordered landscape through both the individual haystack paintings and their series format, and through their placement next to the window views of the Popes' Sunken Garden, these collective views, painted and actual, provide more than mere representations of nature. They create instead what Monet called 'surrounding atmosphere,' a living, changing environment that permeates the entire scene in harmonious unity."
The SOMSI program is under the direction of Ali Hildebrand, Art History and Humanities instructor. "In providing museum experience along with academic research and writing," Ali said, "the internship program enables students to explore a variety of opportunities art history can offer, from museum cataloging, to facilitating public programming, to curating exhibitions and presenting papers. The program uniquely engages student interest while building upon their career skill set, and provides a prestigious capstone to the art history program at Westover." The SOMSI program was originally established through a gift from Marcelo Tortoriello and Liliana R. Yelin P'07.
The museum studies internship consists of a multi-part program that each student develops in conjunction with Ali and Hill-Stead staff members, based on the museum's needs and the student's interests. During the internship, the student travels weekly to Hill-Stead where she works with museum curators assisting in educational or public programs, working in collection management, and engaging in research or conservation of the collection. At the conclusion of the internship, the student presents her experience interning at the museum through two focused projects that investigate Hill-Stead's collection and consider the shared histories of the School and the museum. Interns receive both a stipend for their work at the museum as well as academic credit.
For her second project, Gracey said, "in the spring, I will be leading a walk through Westover's Senior Garden, which once followed a design that reflected the style of Beatrix Farrand, the famous landscape architect. I will be displaying information about her and her specific design style, and I also will be comparing Senior Garden to Hill-Stead's Sunken Garden, which was also designed by Farrand."
Past SOMSI interns have focused their research on works in Hill-Stead's collection by the painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler, the Japanese woodprint artist Utagawa Hiroshige, the early 20th century photographer Gertrude Käsebier, the painter Edgar Degas, the woodprint artist William Nicholson, and the painter Édouard Manet, as well as the architectural designs of Theodate Pope herself.