“Alen MacWeeney’s Photographs”

Alen MacWeeney, :Birds, Bloody Foreland, Donegal,” 1967, Chromogenic Print, Bates College Museum of Art, Gift of Chris and Whitney Campbell

This fall semester I worked as a Collections Management Intern for the Bates College Museum of Art. I am interesting in pursuing a career in museum work, and being able to learn from Corie Audette, Collection Manager and Registrar, has aided my decision to work in museums. Being a Collections Manager is particularly interesting to me because when people visit museums, they experience a fraction of what the museum has to offer. A career as a Collection Manager would allow me to experience the entire collection. At the Bates College Museum of Art, my tasks included cataloguing objects and registering them in the database. I was also responsible for reorganizing part of the storage where the museum houses some of the collection. I study history at the college, so I am more familiar with material culture from past societies. Interning at the Bates Museum has exposed me to the modern art world, something I was not very familiar with coming into the internship. I worked with photographs, lithographs, sculptures, paintings, and drawings. I was also responsible for learning about the artists, which gave me a better understanding of their work.

I have always been interested in photography, so it was no surprise that I was drawn to Alen MacWeeney’s series of photographs of Ireland. The Dublin born artist’s work has appeared in several magazines, and his work is in the permanent collection of several museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Bates College Museum of Art has his “Selected Images of Ireland” portfolio in the permanent collection. In addition, several of his photographs were included in a recent exhibit at the Bates museum, entitled, “Literary.”

The images portrayed in his portfolio show everyday life for villages in the countryside. The photographs include: bare trees growing beside a lake, horses, a chicken in an abandoned hearse, two men in ghillies, and bridesmaid dresses hanging on a clothesline. My favorite image within the portfolio was entitled, Birds, Bloody Foreland, Donegal. This image, showing a hazy day for an Irish farmhouse, invokes a sense of peace and tranquility for me as I view it. The birds sitting on the telephone wire and the sheep quietly grazing in the field reflect the calm feeling from the smooth surface of the lake in the background. Smoke rises from the fireplace, and the audience can imagine a family inside the house getting ready for their day. The fact that the background is blurry serves to show the vast emptiness of the countryside surrounding this farm.

Lindsay Ryder
Classical and Medieval Studies Major
Anthropology and US History Minor
2019