The Victor D’Amico Institute of Art joins
Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program,
prestigious national network of historic sites,
and reveals new digital identity to celebrate this milestone
on April 19, Mabel D’Amico’s birthday.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced on February 10, 2021, that four new sites have been accepted into their prestigious Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios (HAHS) program. The Victor D’Amico Institute of Art is honored to become a part of this national coalition of historic sites and, in celebration of this milestone, the organization officially revealed a new digital identity including a redesigned website at damico-art.org on April 19, the birthday of Mabel D’Amico.
Located in Amagansett, The Victor D’Amico Institute of Art is made up of The Mabel and Victor D’Amico Studio and Archive, the former home and studio of Mabel D’Amico (1909-1998) and Victor D’Amico (1904-1987), and The Art Barge, a summer art school on a remodeled World War II Navy barge. Its mission is to preserve, promote and interpret Mabel and Victor D’Amico’s innovative approach to art education and their belief that, “Art is a human necessity and should be part of everyone’s life experiences.”
In 2019, the Town of East Hampton designated the four structures at the organization’s two sites as local historical landmarks. Inclusion in HAHS elevates the significance of these sites and buildings and further acknowledges the creative legacies of Mabel and Victor D’Amico at a national level.
While The Art Barge beached on the shore of Napeague Harbor has been a familiar landmark on eastern Long Island since 1960 and Victor D’Amico is widely known for his pioneering work in the fields of museum and art education as the founding director of Education at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Mabel D’Amico and the home she and Victor created across the harbor in Lazy Point have received less notice until recent years. Membership in HAHS signals interest in and appreciation of Mabel’s importance as an artist and art educator, recognizing her notable contributions alongside Victor’s.
In its announcement, HAHS stated that it “is deeply committed to representing the full breadth and diversity of our country’s artistic legacy through preserved places nationwide. The sites selected also capture the spirit of the National Trust’s larger initiative, Where Women Made History, a national campaign to identify, honor, and elevate places across the country where women have changed their communities and the world. With the recent centennial celebration in 2020 of the passage of the 19th amendment that granted women the right to vote, it was an important moment for HAHS to increase its representation of sites dedicated to the legacy of women artists. With the addition of these four sites, HAHS is proactively ensuring that it will tell a fuller story of those artists who have traditionally been underrepresented for their contributions to our cultural heritage including people of color, indigenous, self-taught, and women artists.”
The introduction of the four new sites also increases the geographic representation of HAHS to include 22 states in the nation and expand the portfolio of twentieth-century sites within the network, creating a rich and balanced representation of nineteenth-century artist spaces. At a local level, The VDIA joins existing HAHS members, the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center and Mary Nimmo and Thomas Moran Studio, as two other significant historic sites in the Town of East Hampton.
The three other new members of HAHS are:
- Hillltop House, the artist-designed house, landscape, and sculpture park of ceramicist, sculptor, author and preservation activist Dorothy Riester (1916—2017) in Cazenovia, New York;
- Pond Farm, the art colony in California’s Russian River Valley, founded by author, influential ceramicist and Bauhaus-trained potter, Marguerite Wildenhain (1896—1985) and;
- Saarinen House, the iconic modernist home on the campus of the Cranbrook Art Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, that was designed and furnished by artist couple, textile designer and sculptor Loja Saarinen (1879—1968) and architect and painter Eliel Saarinen (1873—1950).
“These sites preserve the complex stories of four women artists who were groundbreaking in art and arts education, each contributing not only through their own artwork, but through the mentorship, opportunity, and influence they provided to younger and upcoming artists,” said HAHS Senior Program Manager, Valerie Balint. “By placing these women’s inspiring stories at the forefront, HAHS and the National Trust are helping to fulfil a vital need for more gender equity in how we frame artistic heritage and hierarchy. We will continue to expand the membership in 2021 to bring on other sites whose compelling stories increase racial diversity and social equity.”
The VDIA’s involvement with HAHS coincides with a progressive shift over the past three years to a more comprehensive and integrated approach to our organization’s singular sites and collections. The identity and mission have been reshaped and revised to bring greater attention to Mabel, who is known for her unique found-object constructions, and the D’Amico Studio and Archive, where over 500 of her artworks are displayed in her studio and throughout the house. Greater emphasis is also given to Mabel’s crucial role as a progressive art educator and her collaboration in Victor’s programs.
Christopher Kohan, president of the Victor D’Amico Institute of Art, says, “Our inclusion in HAHS reinforces an enduring mission pioneered by Mabel and Victor D’Amico to advance art and creative education as a human necessity. The preservation of diverse historic structures and artistic legacies is an invaluable gift to this country and confirms Mabel and Victor’s belief that ‘the arts are a humanizing force and their major function is to vitalize living.”
Donna Hassler, administrator for HAHS and executive director at Chesterwood, says, “These institutions, centered around the riveting stories of the ground-breaking women who lived and worked at these sites, offer immersive experiences for their visitors and expand knowledge about diverse artistic perspectives. We are delighted they have accepted our invitation to be part of the program and look forward to working with them.”
The newly designed website at damico-art.org aims to provide content that more thoroughly portrays the inspiring lives of Mabel and Victor D’Amico and their numerous achievements, including the marvelous sites they created and the vast archive and collections therein. It is the source for information on programs, such as classes, events, and exhibitions, and captures the essence of the creative community that exists because of these two sites. The design and content are intended to motivate, inspire and reflect the D’Amicos’ belief in every individual’s ability to discover their power to create. http://damico-art.org | @damico-art
About the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios Program
Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios network is a peer-to-peer coalition of sites that brings these museums together to conserve the legacy of creativity in the visual arts in the United States. Since its establishment by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1999, HAHS has developed into a successful community of practice, working with 48-member sites that receive more than one million visitors in nearly every part of the United States. This network of sites leverages the knowledge and experience of individual members to benefit the entire coalition in critical areas, including historic preservation, visitor and community programming, and communications. artistshomes.org
About the National Trust for Historic Preservation
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. http://savingplaces.org | @savingplaces