Alivia Cross ’19

Alivia Cross

Interned with: The Nancy Hemenway Barton Collection in Searsport, Maine
Supported by: Nancy Hemenway Whitten Barton ’41 Fellowship
Majors: Theatre and dance studies, psychology
Hometown: Searsport, Maine

Reviewing a life’s work: I inventoried a large collection of paperwork, organized files, photos, slides and transparencies and worked closely with the Barton family to create a catalog to accompany a retrospective exhibition of the works of Nancy Hemenway Whitten Barton ’41, to be held in September at University of New England (UNE). The catalog, aptly named ‘Ahead of Her Time,’ is an epitome of a lifetime of dedication to art. Hemenway’s art transitioned as she traveled the world and explored different mediums. Her work took many forms; watercolor, oils, textiles, bayetage, and eventually large, free-standing sculptures. As part of this experience I was asked to help select 30–50 works that showcase Hemenway’s varied styles and transitional periods. With supervision and assistance from the Barton family, I designed the layout that will include these pieces for the UNE exhibition.”

On the importance of checking your inbox: I found this summer internship through a campus-wide email that described the internship responsibilities and location. The tasks associated with the internship paralleled the skills I learned through working in Wheaton College’s Permanent Collection. I applied, and after a short interview, I was notified I would be working with the Barton family as my summer 2017 internship.”

Nancy Hemenway Barton (Photo courtesy of the Barton family)

Family circle: I have most enjoyed getting to know the Barton family. They have such great stories about Hemenway and speak very fondly of her. The process of creating the catalog is coming from a place of love and admiration for their mother and her talent. I enjoy being a part of such an intimate process of remembering and reliving memories. Each new story and photograph adds to the profound awe I have for Hemenway. She was innovative, crossing both physical and societal borders—and in a time when many women were not recognized in the art world. Hemenway often signed her early oils ‘Bart Barton’ as a way of being accepted in a predominately male art realm.”

Building a network: As someone who seeks out connections in the field of art, I find that the Barton family has been very kind in letting me be the face of this operation. The networks created through this project can be added to my personal nexus, potentially aiding in future ventures. At times, this networking took me out of my comfort zone, but it will help me develop as a leader.”

Handling with care: Through this internship I learned a lot about textile art—how fragile, yet sturdy, a textile can be. I was slightly shocked and amazed at the size of some of Hemenway’s pieces. Each large textile piece is backed with an armature of various shapes and sizes. Seeing the construction of these was a great learning opportunity for me.”

“Elements II,” by Nancy Hemenway Barton, circa 1967–1978. Gift of Nancy Hemenway Barton, Class of 1941, to Wheaton College Permanent Collection. (Photographed by Brianna Medas ’20)

Combining interests: “I enjoy working backstage in a theater setting, as well as in theatrical design and stage management. I will pursue these interests further, either at a graduate school level or in the work force. Along with theater, I am interested in psychology and the impact that the arts has on child development. I find myself more and more drawn toward alternative education systems. I would enjoy working in a setting in which children can learn in a self-guided, hands-on environment. One of the largest connections between alternative education and the Hemenway collection is the many detailed journals and letters in which Hemenway describes her process of observation, reflection and creation. She often would incorporate new materials and textures in her art as a form of exploration. Hemenway also often reflected on the impact her mental and emotional states had on her art. Children learn in a much similar way, learning from surroundings and exploring new mediums for expressing emotions and ideas.”

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