Opening Reception and Curator’s Talk, Sept. 1, 4:30-6 p.m.
(St. Mary’s City) August 16, 2016 – Composed of 41 works and 23 artists from the “Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union,” Claiming Space: Nonconformist Exhibition in 1970’s Leningrad examines how nonconformist artists reshaped exhibition possibilities in the dangerous socio-political landscape of Soviet Leningrad. The exhibition, curated by St. Mary’s College of Maryland alumna Rebecca Archer ’16, Riverdale Park, MD, will be on display Aug. 23-Sept. 24 at the Boyden Gallery. An opening reception and Curator’s Talk will take place at the gallery on Sept. 1 from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
After the establishment of the Soviet Union in 1932 and the forced dissolution of avant-garde artist circles in favor of state-sanctioned Socialist Realism, modern artists throughout the USSR were forced underground. In the 1970s Leningrad nonconformist artists subverted artistic censorship by hosting apartment exhibitions throughout the city, despite KGB harassment and threats. However, their ultimate goal was to connect with a broader audience through public exhibition. This exhibition explores the trajectory of 1970’s Leningrad nonconformism through exhibition practice, honoring their struggles and triumphs in the name of artistic freedom.
Rebecca Archer, curator of Claiming Space, is a recent graduate from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, majoring in history and art history. This exhibition is the final product of her St. Mary’s Project, a year-long undergraduate research project. She will be participating in the Advanced Program Internship at the Smithsonian American Art Museum for the next academic year.
The “Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union” is comprised of over 25,000 works by more than 2,000 artists from the Soviet Union who expressed themselves freely, in defiance of the repressive policies of the Soviet government.
The collection serves as a testament to the courage of all those who would challenge authority in pursuit of artistic freedom. The collection is also valuable for having preserved and presented the works of many talented artists whose contributions to art history may otherwise have been lost.
Since 1991, the collection has been on permanent display and in rotating exhibitions at the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. St. Mary’s College of Maryland has hosted numerous exhibitions over the years that were organized and supported by Norton Dodge during his time as a trustee and professor of economics at the College. It is gratifying that this tradition is being continued with Claiming Space: Nonconformist Exhibition in 1970’s Leningrad.
The mission of Boyden Gallery of St. Mary’s College of Maryland is to serve as an educational and cultural resource for students, faculty and staff of the College and the broader Southern Maryland community.
Boyden Gallery and the Fine Art Collection are guided by the conviction that engagement with visual art, media and culture is a key component of a liberal arts education. The Gallery promotes visual literacy, object-based learning and the understanding of visual art in its historic and cultural context through exhibitions, educational programs, interdisciplinary exploration, and community engagement.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland, designated the Maryland state honors college in 1992, is ranked one of the best public liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Approximately 1,800 students attend the college, nestled on the St. Mary’s River in Southern Maryland.