New interpretations of art

Nancy Holt’s multimedia art comes alive at UMassD

Nancy Holt (American 1938-2014) Spinwinder 1991) at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Photograph: Chris Diani, 2021.

Since 1991, a tubular structure has greeted visitors at the entrance of UMass Dartmouth. Thirty years later, the community celebrated the sculpture Spinwinder, as well as its creator and her connections to the SouthCoast, in Nancy Holt: Massachusetts. This multi-part exhibition was brought to UMassD through the generosity of philanthropic contributions from the Henry Luce Foundation’s American Art Program and the Holt/ Smithson Foundation.

With family ties to New Bedford and as the granddaughter of Samuel Holt, a faculty member at the New Bedford Textile School, one of UMassD’s predecessor institutions, Holt incorporated characteristics of the region’s industrial history in the Spinwinder (1991) sculpture. Nancy Holt: Massachusetts researched and brought new attention to the sculpture, and included the immersive installation artwork Electrical System (1982). Electrical engineering students Matthew Lavoie ’22, Derrick Manu ’22, and Shedricke Mulbah ’22 assisted in researching and building this room-scale artwork made of bent conduit at the CVPA Campus Gallery.

Rebecca Uchill, director of community engagement initiatives and lecturer in art education, art history and media studies, was the project manager and curator of the exhibition. “Nancy Holt: Massachusetts has fostered new understanding of the artist Nancy Holt, her relationship to our region, and her public artwork Spinwinder,” said Uchill.

The Luce Foundation supported public programs and the Holt/Smithson Foundation made donations of artworks and other materials to the Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections. “Not only were we able to host a remarkable exhibition and symposium, but we will continue to learn from this multifaceted work for years to come," said Uchill.



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