Campus News

Photographer Nigel Poor is CSC Scholar-in-Residence

Story posted February 21, 2002

Each year, the Coastal Studies Center (CSC) Scholar-in-Residence Program provides an opportunity for departments and programs at Bowdoin to invite scholars or artists from outside the College to engage in research or related activities that will enhance their own programs and promote the intellectual growth of the CSC. During 2001-02, the CSC Scholar-in-Residence Program has been working with the Visual Arts Department.

This spring, the scholar-in-residence is photographer Nigel Poor. Poor, from San Francisco, is teaching the course “Observation to Obsession: An Exploration of Looking.” Later in the semester, she will give a public lecture (April 24) on campus.

"The Scholar-in-Residence Program provides the CSC with an important intellectual bridge to the curriculum and other campus activities," says Anne Henshaw, CSC director. "We hope to rotate the residency throughout the major divisions of the College in the coming years as a way to broaden the participation of departments in research and other projects related to our unique coastal setting."

Landscape painter Lucy Barber was last semester’s scholar-in-residence. Dean McCurdy, a post-doctoral fellow in marine biology, was in residence last year.

Poor’s course, “Observation to Obsession” (Art 185), looks at how artists from varying mediums dissect similar issues. Students are encouraged to question their assumptions of what art can be, as they explore the critical process of being observant. The class considers work by visual artists, filmmakers, and writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

In describing the course, Poor writes, “Keen observation is something commonly attributed to artists. But what does it mean to be an observer? What is worthy of being observed? It may not be the great moments in life that deserve the closest inspection, but the everyday actions that clue us in to something of importance. This course is an exploration of the everyday, and how - with careful observation - extraordinary things can happen.”

Nigel Poor earned her bachelor’s degree in photography and literature from Bennington College, and her master of fine arts degree in photography from the Massachusetts College of Art.

Solo exhibitions of her work have been mounted at the Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose, Calif., the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, the Haines Gallery in San Francisco, the Charlestonn Heights Arts Center in Las Vegas, the FotoCircle Gallery in Seattle, and the San Jose Museum of Art.

Group exhibitions have occurred throughout the U.S., and include most recently the Walter and MacBean Galleries in San Francisco, the University Art Museum of California State University, the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, and the Anne Reed Gallery in Ketchum, Idaho.

Her works reside in the collections of the Center for Photographic Art, the Duke University Art Museum, the Hood Museum of Art, the M.H. deYoung Memorial Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, and the Polaroid Corporation International Collection, among others.

She is the recipient of the Excellence Award Current Work 99 from the Society of Contemporary Photography in Kansas City, the Focus 94 Patron Award from the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, Calif., and a Polaroid Artist Support Grant.

She has taught at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., the California College of Arts and Crafts, and the San Francisco Art Institute.

About the CSC
About 12 miles from campus on Orr's Island, the Bowdoin College Coastal Studies Center (CSC) occupies a 118-acre site surrounded on three sides by the ocean, and encompassing open fields, orchards and old-growth spruce-fir forest. Known as Thalheimer Farm, the CSC is devoted to interdisciplinary teaching and research. Each semester it is the home of a scholar-in-residence.

The CSC offers facilities and resources that support student and faculty research, and courses, focused on coastal settings and issues. With its marine biological laboratory (with flowing seawater for observation of live marine organisms), and terrestrial ecology laboratory (serving as a field station for research and study of coastal ecology, as well as an art studio), the CSC has played an active role in Bowdoin's programs in biology, environmental studies, geology, archaeology, and studio art.

Click here to visit the Coastal Studies Center Web site.

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