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George Hallowell, Snow Shadows, circa 1915, oil on canvas, 46 1/2” x 27 1/2”.


Linda Chestney

Known for its proclivity for a cross-curriculum philosophy, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) doesn’t disappoint in its museum offerings, either. The museum will often invite students to view and absorb various art works and understand their relation to the specific discipline they’re studying. Be it history, writing or another area of study, art enriches the academic experience by emphasizing life from
different perspectives.

The current exhibition at the UNH Museum of Art does exactly that. “Closer Readings: New Hampshire Writers Respond to Art” was organized to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the state’s flagship public university. It showcases the University of New Hampshire’s visual and literary arts by pairing distinguished writers with ties to the university with works of art from the museum’s permanent collection created by artists who contributed to New Hampshire’s artistic legacy. Included in the exhibition are paintings, drawings, prints, ceramics and sculpture inspired by the state’s natural surroundings and the narrative impulse presented by the human figure.

In the 19th century, the scenic beauty of New Hampshire attracted artists and writers, many of whom settled there, creating colonies and retreats that fostered the work of other artists, authors, poets and playwrights. The vibrant art legacy, inspired by the state’s environment, features prominently in the museum’s collection of historic and contemporary landscapes and seascapes.

For this exhibition, according to museum director Kristina Durocher, writers connected to the university submitted a written response to a work of art of their choosing. The word count was 200 words or fewer, but other than that, there were no strict guidelines; any mode of literary expression was acceptable. Their inspired responses present an array of styles, moods and literary genres.

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