Grossman to students: ‘Just paint’

She works out at the Kresge Fitness Center, she frequents performances at the Hop and she attends student art openings. A new face in the hallways of the Hopkins Center this term, artist-in-residence Barbara Grossman has not only offered a fresh perspective in the studio art department but has also woven herself into the Dartmouth community.

The artist-in-residence program, which began in 1932, has attracted well-known artists including Jos Clemente Orozco, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella and even Grossman’s husband, painter Charles Cajori. The goal of the program is to supplement the conventional teaching of the visual arts by exposing students to important contemporary artists.

Gerald Auten, studio art professor and director of the exhibitions program, said, “What we really look for is quality of work, the reputation of the artist, what the work is and how that will support the curriculum and what we are teaching.”

The artist-in-residence spends one term at Dartmouth and presents a lecture and exhibit of their work in the Jaffe-Friede and Strauss Galleries.

Grossman, a vocal and outgoing addition to the studio art department, is anything but a hermit. As a figurative painter, Grossman is influenced by everything from Czzanne and Matisse to Colossal sculpture and Indian miniatures. Grossman is particularly interested in space and color. “I believe color makes space and space is made by color and light. I am interested in making space both deep and flat simultaneously,” she said.

Asked why she decided to become an artist, Grossman said, “It was not really a choice, I knew from about the ninth grade that I wanted to be an artist.” A native of New York City, Grossman attended the High School of Music and Art and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Cooper Union. She received the equivalent of a Masters of Fine Art from the Academie der Kunst in Munich, Germany.

Grossman noted that her evolution as an artist and the development of her career have been two separate entities.

“Career is something outside of art, and it has to do with the business. Career is a separate animal, but it is an important animal,” she said. “Some people don’t care whether they ever show or ever sell. But I think there is a need to bring art into the world.”

Still, she noted that in many ways her evolution as an artist has come from within and from simply making art. “You are shaped by working, you learn from yourself. You have to work through the work,” Grossman said. “It is hard, but it is never boring. One of the reasons to paint is to stave off the boredom.”

As an artist-in-residence, Grossman has shared both her practical experiences as an artist and her formal experiences as a teacher with Dartmouth students. Citing the philosophy of jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie, Grossman said, “If you believe in the art, you have to pass on the art.”

Grossman encourages students to sign up for appointments to meet with her. She has joined beginning classes for critiques and even surprised a Drawing 1 class by joining them in drawing a model.

Studio art major Yuval Ortiz-Quiroga ’02 said of Grossman, “She’s fabulous, filled with wonderful advice and information and an incredible energy. I had a great critique of my installation with her. She’s kind, smart and honest.”

The chance for student artists to grow under the influence of significant contemporary artists is one of the greatest assets of the artist-in-residence program. Grossman noted the importance of this opportunity. “As a young artist, it is important to talk to artists of all ages and then go and immerse yourself in art,” she said.

For the next generation of artists, Grossman added a particular piece of advice, “Just paint, just work, stay in the studio as much as possible. If you are not in the studio it won’t happen.”

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