President’s Dinner 10.17.19

On Thursday, President Zak held her annual president’s dinner for trustees and doners in the Dalton Gallery. The Kirk Gallery Graduate Fellow, Anna Carnes suggested that this might be a programming event for the Side/Side exhibition in order to promote the permanent collection as a college asset. I introduced Veronica Kessenich (pronounce: Keznik), who curated the work and is the Executive director at the Atlanta Contemporary, who talked about aspects and attributes of institutional collecting.

On behalf othe Department of Art and Art history we welcome you and are delighted to have this group in particular to enjoy fellowship and food in our recently refurbished gallery (thank you P. Zak and Dean Cozzens for new carpet) and to experience the exhibition Side by Side: selections from the Permanent Collection.

We are especially excited to share these highlights–many of which have not been seen in decades–to express the importance of a college collection as both a teaching tool and a sound investment.

Investing in artwork is a smart idea. Carefully selected, it works not only as an excellent educational tool, but it can create a phenomenol return in absolute value in a very short amount of time. Low risk, high return. Objects and images create an enlivened environment where students are affected no matter what. We engage specific tasks of “slow looking” in the department, but even quick glances at works on the wall can be affecting. Good art will get you. It will ask you questions and make you wonder. Art is a reflection of culture and cultural change. Marcel Duchamp suggested that it is the viewer who completes the creative act:

All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.

— from Robert Lebel, Marcel Duchamp, Grove Press, New York, 1959, pp. 77-78 (Stanford Library: ND553.D774.L43FOLIO)

The catalog for the exhibition that you have in your hands was designed and co-written by our Kirk Graduate Fellow, Anna Carnes who has been working with Veronica Kessenich to design and install the show. Anna graduated in the spring and is interested in a career as a curator–we are lucky to have a fund like the Kirk Award that allows us to offer such a rich experience to intelligent, motivated and organized students like Anna.

Also included on a bookmark inside the program is a list of “The Questions We Ask”, compiled by the Arts Advisory Group as selection criteria to consider before we add a work of art to expand the collection.

Veronica Kessenich, an Atlanta native, serves as the Executive Director of the Atlanta Contemporary Center, an established renown and respected non-profit gallery for current cutting edge work, located on Atlanta’s historic Westide. There, Keznik and team promote the values Agnes Scott holds dear, implementing outreach initiatives intended to increase accessibility and inclusivity toward a more diversified audience. One such intitiative was configuring a way to offer free admission, implemented September 1, 2015. This initiative has increased attendance more than 110%. Kessenich suggests you visit the gallery and see for yourself–free admission, free parking, free coffee.

Visit Atlanta Contemporary and see for yourself – free admission, free parking, free coffee.

As Development Director, Kessenich closed out FY13 with a $625K capital campaign. She is the first recipient of the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund’s Capitalization Fund from The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta. In recognition of her contributions to the arts, Kessenich received the CCA Community Impact Award from Emory University (2016) and she was named one of Atlanta’s Women of Power (The Atlantan, 2015).

Kessenich also loves teaching. Agnes Scott has been lucky to benefit from her role as contemporary art historian as she has taught introductory and theory courses for us over the last few years, and has mentored students in the classroom and as interns at the Contemporary.

Kessenich is a graduate of the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) where she earned an M. Phil in Art History and received her undergraduate degree from Saint Mary’s College in Indiana.

She is also a graduate of Seth Godin’s altMBA.

Installation view of Side/Side Selections from the Permanent Collection and a Fancy Chair