We were in Williamstown this weekend for Chad's college reunion. The cult-like nature of Williams alums can be a little awkward for those outside it, but our hotel was within walking distance, allowing me to go rest frequently, and it was nice to catch up with people I knew already and to meet a few new ones.
Also, my reduced presence led to the weekend's great coinage. This morning at breakfast, Chad came over and pointed to me with both hands, saying to someone, "See?!" In the ensuing introductions, I learned that Chad had spoken to the other person three different times over the weekend. Every time, I happened to be someplace else—which led the other person to accuse Chad of having a Snuffleupawife.
If only I'd known, I could have denied knowing Chad when he came over . . .
We also spent a while in the Williams College Museum of Art, which had some interesting exhibits, though occasionally I would have liked a bit more in the way of signs or labels. For instance, the exhibit on manifestos displayed American founding documents with pieces of contextual art (press release). While it was astonishing to see, for instance, a draft of the Constitution complete with editing marks and George Mason's handwritten notes in opposition on the back, there were a number of works in the same room whose relation to manifestos of any kind was unclear; maybe they were just there because that's where they usually are? Not sure. The other example was the Model American Men exhibit (press release), where I wanted to argue with the works more than the labels did.
I was quite interested by a large exhibit on the prints of William Kentridge, a South African artist (press release). The labels here were excellent and gave a great deal of context for the social, political, and technical aspects of his work, which I found thought-provoking and challenging. The "Unchained Legacies" exhibit was similar though much smaller: excellent context for its two contemporary references (images at the bottom of the press release) to the Brookes slave ship diagram, which I hadn't encountered before.
We also saw exhibits of the work of Emily Driscoll, a Williams alum who created open, spare, almost SF-nal works (press release), and Julie Mehretu, who does large-scale abstract reimaginings of the urban environment (press release), both of which were worth seeing.
I don't recall seeing anything that I immediately wanted to take home and hang on my wall, but it was a good afternoon all the same, and much better than our experiences with contemporary art tend to be.