With water droplets streaming down a bright blue background, a girl with shower foam in her hair squeezes her eyes shut and screams in the colored-pencil artwork “Resilience” by Alice Fan ’23.
Displayed in “The New Americans” virtual gallery created by the Addison Club, Fan expressed that her drawing depicts the pinnacle of racism targeted toward Asian-Americans. Her artwork fits the overarching theme of the exhibition—a moment of national identity. According to Fan, this virtual exhibition allowed her to convene with artists from across the Andover community.
“We have such talented artists at Andover and, a lot of the time, we don’t realize it, especially in a virtual environment, because these things are hard to come up in conversation. With a virtual exhibit, it gives students an opportunity to showcase some of their work, and I think it’s really empowering to help students share their work and give them a platform to also explain the context and background of their piece,” said Fan.
On February 19, the Addison Club debuted “The New Americans” virtual exhibition with an opening reception over Zoom, which commenced with a tour of the virtual gallery and concluded with reflections from contributing artists. According to Addison Ambassador Abbie Cheng ’23, this virtual exhibition is the first event affiliated with the Addison Gallery of American Art that showcases visual and written artwork from Andover students.
“As Addison ambassadors, we really wanted to find a way to connect people with the Addison virtually this year. [We wanted them to] express creativity and get them outside so they’re not staring at a screen all day. We thought the exhibition would be a great way to do this, because students can not only create materials through photography and art, but also explore the Addison exhibits and be inspired by them,” said Cheng.
Collaborating with “The Courant,” Andover’s literary and arts magazine, and “F-STOP Magazine,” the student-run photography magazine, the Addison Club combined its resources with the visual art and poetry from these publications. Together, they aimed to create an exhibition based on Robert Frank’s collection, “The Americans,” a series of 50 photographs captured by Frank in 1958, which is owned by the Addison Gallery of American Art.
“We were inspired by Frank’s idea of capturing a time period honestly with photos. This concept seemed super applicable to the year 2020, where students could build upon the idea of capturing a time period based on their personal reflections. So walking around the gallery and viewing the work wouldn’t only be meaningful because of each piece, but also the gallery could allow for reflection on the year in a personal manner that they can create at home,” said Cheng.
After the idea for the collection was established, the editors of “The Courant” and “F-STOP Magazine” contributed to the curation process, according to Cheng. Co-Editor-in-Chief of “The Courant,” Ariel Wang ’21, believes that the exhibition deeply resonates with the mission of “The Courant”: authentically showcasing student artwork and writing to the Andover community. According to Wang, the divergence of this exhibition from their standard magazine issues can inspire more emphasis on live “The Courant” events in the future.
“I guess one thing that’s really unique about ‘The Courant’ is that we never have a theme, so it’s really boundaryless in a way. [This time,] it was interesting for ‘The Courant’ to venture into [a theme] and see how it turned out. I feel like ‘The Courant’ is just a book, so having some of the works out in an exhibit was just bringing it out and showing it to the world,” said Wang.
Reflecting on the exhibition, Addison Ambassador Emiliano Caceres Manzano ’22 believes that “The New Americans” was successful for the Addison Club. Going forward, the Addison Club hopes to further promote student artwork by organizing more exhibitions, potentially in in-person settings that utilize outdoor spaces and student classrooms.
“It just made me feel really good to see the student work treated with the same respect and the same kind of platform that professional artists are treated with, and that was very much our intention. When we set everything up, [we want] to give students the best platform possible to share their work, and to see their work on the equivalent of a museum wall,” said Caceres Manzano.