Scene d’interieur, 1926, Pablo Picasso

A paper anniversary

May 21, 2022

Portfolio

By Matthew Dewald

As a student, Joel Harnett, R’45, was a talented debater, Richmond College Student Government president, and tennis team hopeful. Half a century later, he made his most lasting mark on Richmond when he and his wife funded the establishment of the Joel and Lila Harnett Print Study Center in 1991. The center is dedicated to the study, collection, and exhibition of works on paper.

It is also dedicated to providing exceptional opportunities for undergraduates. As part of the center’s founding, the Harnetts also funded the creation of the Harnett Summer Research Fellowship, which provides support for a UR student working full time with museum staff during a summer to research the collections and curate an exhibition.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary, the 2021 Harnett Fellow, Hadley Beckstrand, ’22, reached out to her predecessors, asking each one to pick one work that is representative of a show they curated. She also invited their thoughts on the work they selected. Together, their selections and reflections made up “Two Decades,” a retrospective exhibition showcasing the breadth and depth of the growing Harnett collection and the experiences of Harnett Fellows.

“Curation, if it’s done really well, can influence people’s emotions when they walk into a space,” Beckstrand, an art history major, said. “With art, there’s a lot of social, political, and economic history involved, so it’s not just a monolithic kind of study. I think that’s just fascinating. Being able to construct a room that influences and teaches people is really interesting, and I think it’s important. A lot of people don’t realize how important it can be.”

“Two Decades” was on display in the Modlin Center for the Arts and in Booker Hall during the spring semester. Here’s a look at what visitors saw.

Strong art ... [has] this way of putting little bookmarks in our memories of life.
Kim Ray, '12

A colorful abstract print titled

Zimbabwean Striking Scorpion, 2000, Janet Gilmore-Bryan, selected by 
Kim Ray, ’12:

“I am sure that when I was a fellow 10 years ago, I wrote something poetic about the patterns and rhythm built by colors and shapes flowing together, with the individual silhouettes merging into one design. I don’t remember what I wrote, but I do remember this image. It’s hard for me to look at these images and not be reminded of the time and place in life when I worked with them.

“Strong art — just like stories, books, and music — all have this way of putting little bookmarks in our memories of life. I can’t see this now without also seeing it in my past. Often, it seems that what we see in other things says just as much about ourselves in that moment as it does about what we are looking at. Maybe in this image, we are also seeing this scorpion writhing around in time, searching for its own way forward.”

Print #1 titled

Left to right:

Blühende Spiräe (Blooming Meadowsweet), 1925, Wilhelm Heise, selected by Dayle Wood, ’11

En Belgique, les Belges ont faim (In Belgium, the Belgians Are Hungry), 1915, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, selected by Sofia Nicolet, ’19

Delphic Window, 1980, Eleanor Rufty, selected by Olivia Kohler-Maga, ’03

A print titled
Forward March, 1969–73, Avel de Knight, selected by Jacqueline Clary, ’12
Curation, if it’s done really well, can influence people’s emotions when they walk into a space.
Hadley Beckstrand, '22

Print titled

Martha’s Siesta, 1933, Pierre Daura
, selected by Sequioa Roscoe, ’16:

“Pierre Daura truly loved his only daughter, Martha, [and] he would draw her at any given opportunity. Looking at the sketch made me think of how quickly children can grow up right before their parents’ eyes. One day they are infants and toddlers, and in a matter of years, they become teenagers and adults. Oftentimes, we do not realize how quickly time goes by in our lives until we look back through old photo albums and see how we have matured — or those who are parents, how quickly their children grew up.”

Print #1 titled

Left to right:

Department Store, 1930, Kenneth Hayes Miller, selected by Haley Jones, ’14

Drawing 321, 2012, Teo Gonzalez, selected by Mimi King, ’15

Print titled

Van Ness, Santa Monica, Vine, Melrose, 1999
, Ed Ruscha, selected by 
Chris Oliver, ’05:

“I love Ruscha’s work because it interrogates our own assumptions about art, imagery, and text. This work, which I understand as a conflation of a map and landscape, questions the utility of strictly defined categories, all the while mustering the aesthetics of the Los Angeles pavement.”

Print titled

Ensnared by a Procuress, 1732, 
William Hogarth
, selected by Kate Wiley, ’20:

“In my first week as the Harnett Fellow, I devoured Hogarth’s subversive ‘Modern Moral Stories,’ in which a blunt, didactic narrative is often subtly contradicted by systemic critique. Hogarth, if you recognize his nuance, declares that his characters’ misfortune cannot be entirely attributable to moral failure. He gives his audience the opportunity to look outside of the character at the systems and power dynamics at play.”

Print titled

James River Spring 1, 2003, 
Jackie Battenfield, selected by Carly Cahill, ’16:

“During my fellowship, I would go to the river for lunch and sit by the water. For the exhibition, I was reading about water and visually working with the prints. When I would go to the river for lunch, I was able to physically touch the medium of focus, and everything felt fluid, which made it feel like a very warm, safe environment.”

Print #1 titled

Left to right:

The Follies of the Court, 1972, Fritz Eichenberg, selected by Lindsay Kurlak Barclay, ’05

Le secret du Maître Cornille, 1879–80, Félix Hilaire Buhot, selected by Junru Zhou, ’21

Eustacia and Clym, 1929, Clare Leighton, selected by Lourdes Figueroa, ’13

Print titled

Seven Students, 1981–82, 
Isabel Bishop, selected by Morgan Mitchell, ’20:

“I think having the fellowship experience of being hands-on and working with the staff was super helpful. It gave me the confidence to continue working with art on a long-term basis. I was involved in every step of the process, and it inevitably gave me the confidence that I could curate a show.”

Print #1 titled

Left to right:

"Philip and Mildred in Chair" ("Why Are You So Horrid to Me, Phil."), 1937, John Sloan, selected by Dina Zhurba, ’10

Cargese (Cargese, France), 1929, Pierre Daura, selected by Bradley Ferrani, ’06

Print titled

Victory of the Dutch Fleet over the Spanish Armada, Oct. 21, 1639, 1661, German School, selected by Katie Der, ’11

I think having the fellowship experience ... gave me the confidence to continue working with art on a long-term basis.
Morgan Mitchell, '20

Print titled

Valor varonil de la célebre Pajuelera en la de Zaragoza, 1816, Francisco de Goya
, selected by Carmen Hermo, ’07:

“This piece explores the concept of having a society sit, dress up, and watch men murder bulls. Goya traced this interesting, violent aspect of society, explored those moments of collapse in the details of his culture. We might look back on the print and view it in a different light. ... Know[ing] it was created at the same time as other violent works concerning war and Spanish society illustrates that the work brings the politics to bear.”