The Common Studio

November 5, 2016

What was required was a new story, a new history told through the lens of our struggle.

—Ta-Nehisi Coates

artist: Ben Shattuck

October 2, 2015

I wanted to render a landscape that braces itself for shock. What will be done there cannot be undone. Land, water, and ecologies will be changed.  

March 23, 2015

In his 1838 “Essay on American Scenery,” Thomas Cole—the celebrated “founding father” of the Hudson River School of American landscape painting—wrote that American landscapes are:

a subject that to every American ought to be of surpassing interest; for, whether he beholds the Hudson mingling waters with the Atlantic—explores the central wilds of this vast continent, or stands on the margin of the distant Oregon, he is still in the midst of American scenery—it is his own land; its beauty, its magnificence, its sublimity—all are his; and how undeserving of such a birthright, if he can turn towards it an unobserving eye, an unaffected heart!

November 14, 2014

"Bayonet Trials" by Erik Hougen

In reference to photography, Roland Barthes wrote that its unique position among art was that it referred directly to something “that has been.” Erik Hougen’s paintings hint at that premise; they offer places both familiar and alien, which forces the part of our brain that codifies and organizes images to guess where and when. This dialogue, or rather confusion, between viewer and image is exactly what the artist is working towards. Hougen invites us to a location and time that may not exist. The mind attempts to classify the exact place, but ends up submitting to a notion of place.

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user 3nglishN3rd

October 13, 2014

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user 3nglishN3rd

There is a book that, while neither historical nor scientific, stands apart from works of literature, religion and philosophy. Like those works, this book betrays a great deal about the culture in which it appears. Yet it differs from them in at least two respects. First, it can evolve; second, it lacks an author. As James Murray has written, the book “is the creation of no one man, and of no one age; it is a growth that has slowly developed itself down the ages; its beginnings lie far back in times almost pre-historic.”

September 5, 2014

Image from the Amherst College Archives Flickr

In August 2013, Amherst College acquired one of the most comprehensive collections of books by Native American Indian authors ever assembled by a private collector. This collection, from Pablo Eisenberg, consists of about 1,500 books that include poetry, fiction, history, philosophy, and many other works. Even texts by some of the first Native American Indian writers to be published in their lifetimes, such as Samson Occom, William Apess, and Elias Boudinot, are a part of this vast collection. The Robert Frost Library seeks to show as much as possible of the history of Native American writing and philosophy in their exhibit: The Younghee Kim-Wait Pablo Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection.

artist: Emeka Ogboh

March 7, 2014

Lagos, Nigeria is growing fast but travels slow. The city, which is Africa’s largest, has doubled in population within the past seventeen years, crowding its roads and bridges with many millions of people – too many for the city's recent infrastructure investments to keep up. Traffic jams, called go-slows, ensue. But while Danfos, the yellow minibuses that are public transportation in Lagos, tend to get stuck, its passengers don’t. While buses crawl, Lagosians move: playing street music, revving engines, hawking products, shouting directions and taking phone calls.


Curated by Pamela Russell and Sheila Flaherty-Jones

February 10, 2014

Sidney Waugh was a twentieth-century sculptor best known for architectural and large-scale works on the one hand, and for smaller designs for glass and medallions on the other. As lead creative artist at Steuben Glass in New York, he elevated glass to a fine art medium, while also designing many public and private monuments on the East Coast of the United States. Waugh worked in a style typical of the 1930s and 1940s that owed much to the Art Deco aesthetic, emphasizing symmetry and simple, linear forms.

January 10, 2014


Today we’re delighted to feature this close-up of a gorgeous recent acquisition by the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College.

Made in Italy of Carrara marble in the third quarter of the 2nd century CE, this ancient Roman sarcophagus features sea nymphs riding on the backs of sea centaurs while cupids fly overhead. It has “exceptional visual impact,” says Pamela Russell, the Mead’s head of education, “due to its impressive scale, lively marine subject, and pleasing symmetrical composition.”

Curated by Jeff Bergman

December 13, 2013

Our relationship with maps has changed drastically in the last ten years, from the pinpoint ease of Google Maps to global positioning systems rendering us a blinking blue beacon on a grid of streets. Rarely are we explorers in the completed cartography of our planet. Visual artist Martha Willette Lewis has given us new, unreal spaces to explore by combining diagrammatic drawings, biological systems, and topographical forms.

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