This fall, the Harvard University Committee on the Arts is welcoming students, faculty, and staff back to campus with a series of six commissions from seven contemporary artists across various disciplines. The projects will present community members with unique opportunities to explore Harvard, in locations ranging from the Yard, to the Arboretum, to the ArtLab, through dance, visual art, music, and beyond.
“We’re aiming to welcome the community back to campus in a way that underscores the power and prominence of the arts on campus,” said Robin Kelsey, HUCA co-chair and Harvard’s dean of arts and humanities.
“Over the last decade or so, we’ve transformed the role of the arts here at Harvard, and one of the ways that we’ve done that is through collaborative relationships with visiting artists,” Kelsey said. “This particular array of artists gives us a chance to demonstrate just how transformative these relationships can be. They are a remarkable group, with very distinctive practices and approaches. And what unites them is that they’re all deeply engaged with the issues of our time, with questions of justice, of the social fabric, and with how we revitalize our communities.”
“Last spring, we brought all the commissioned artists together on Zoom and the conversation was electric,” said Associate Provost for Arts and Culture Lori Gross. “At that time, the resonance between each of their own unique ideas reinforced HUCA’s belief that, together, these projects would add energy, and provide for moments of reflection for students, faculty, and staff alike, as they were welcomed back in the fall. Now that we’re here, we are already seeing this happen, and we look forward to a semester full of opportunities for our community to interact with the art.”
Jordan Weber is one of the commissioned artist/activists; he will be working on an installation in the ArtLab’s ArtYard made of five black obsidian boulders sourced from Minneapolis in solidarity with his own Deep Roots activism in the city during the George Floyd protests.
“This work intends to create a movable, communal space for decompression and reflection,” he said. “I use black obsidian because of its pre-colonial uses for communal self-defense as well as a tool for self-resilience in food security. Black obsidian is used in ancient rituals all over the world to block negative energy while healing the spirit.”