15 December 2016 • Arts Selecting an Art Acquisition

This semester, Brianna Arnold ’19 had the opportunity to procure a new work of art for the Collections of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. After several weeks of research into the Colleges’ holdings, Arnold was challenged to find a piece that would complement the art already in the collection, as well as appeal to her peers. In the process, she gained experience in the complex world of art acquisition.

The annual art acquisition is a semester long internship with Visual Arts Curator Kathryn Vaughn P ’08. The intern chooses a time period within the Colleges’ permanent collection of art and develops an analysis of its strengths and weaknesses. The remainder of the semester is used to identify and purchase the selected work.

Arnold, an architectural studies major and European studies and art history double minor, says her studies are rooted in an interest in history – which guided her decision to analyze art from the 19th century.

“I always say that there is a story untold that we have to unravel and discover, whether that be in historic buildings or historic art pieces,” she says. This understanding helped Arnold make a connection between the past and the present through the theme of finding a “home” in Geneva.

“In the 19th century, an art movement was founded in our home of upstate New York called the Hudson River School. This was formed by a group of painters who wanted to depict scenes of their home and favorite landscapes,” Arnold says.

“Back Yard Past the Dog Kennels by the Auburn, N.Y.-native Frank A. Barney, who painted from 1900 to 1920, is Arnold’s selection for the Collections of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She selected the landscape scene of a fall day on a walking trail because it reminded her of the arts campus at HWS.

She hopes students connect to the artwork. “By going to college at HWS, Geneva has developed as everybody’s new home, and using that as my theme for this internship was a vital piece to the puzzle.”