Celebrating Bunny Harvey’s 4 Decades of Accomplishments As An Educator and Artist at Wellesley

December 4, 2015
Works of art by Wellesley Professor Bunny Harvey hang in a gallery

Bunny Harvey, Elizabeth Christy Kopf Professor of Art, accepted her first teaching appointment at Wellesley in 1976, the same year she opened her first one-woman exhibition at a gallery in New York. The many awards she has collected since that time, including a Pinanski Prize for Excellence in Teaching and a Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts, point to her accomplishments as both an educator and an artist. On the occasion of her retirement, the community gathers to honor her 40 years at Wellesley.

While no exhibition could fully capture the breadth of work Harvey has created over the course of her artistic career, a special exhibition, Bunny Harvey: Four Decades, has given Davis Museum visitors a comprehensive overview of the scope and scale of her work through approximately 70 large and small paintings and drawings.

During a gallery talk in October, Meredith Fluke, Kemper Curator of Academic Programs at the Davis, said, "One of my great joys in curating this exhibition was that it brought me in contact with so many of Bunny's former students. Through this process, I have heard from more than 100 Wellesley alumnae who have graduated between the years 1977 and 2015, who have responded voluminously to the call to send materials reflecting the career of Bunny as a professor, mentor, and, to many, a friend."

Seven of those former students will join Fluke and three of Harvey's colleagues—Daniela Rivera, associate professor of art, Margaret Carroll, professor of art, and Phyllis McGibbon, professor of art—on today's symposium panel at 3pm in Collins Cinema. The program will be followed by a celebration in the Davis Lobby, and a chance to revisit Bunny Harvey: Four Decades, which is on view through December 13.

Harvey is best known as a landscape painter, yet her work defies traditional definitions of the genre. She describes her most recent work as a culmination of 40 years of painting and a passion for archaeology, the philosophy of time, cosmology, and particle physics in the form of semi-abstract landscapes. As arts writer Bill Van Siclen wrote in his review of Four Decades for Wicked Local Wellesley, "Harmonies of the World, a 1990 painting that greets visitors as they enter the exhibition…is no more a conventional landscape than a Picasso portrait is a conventional portrait."

Visitors to the exhibition and those who attend tonight's event will have an opportunity to witness what makes Harvey an original, to hear testimony of her impact on campus and in the art world, and to fete a beloved figure as Wellesley comes together to acknowledge an artist and an educator that defies convention.