Society of Fellows

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SOF News December 2014

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
Photo: Nicholas Whitman
Kevin Walz
Photo: Max Kozloff, 2010
First Christmas tree in New England, home of Charles Follen, 1832
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Laurie Anderson and Jenny Holzer to partner with Mass MoCa. Kevin Walz is back in New York.

Mass MoCa in North Adams, Massachusetts has announced plans to expand its gallery space by 90,000 square feet, partnering with six artists to create exhibition space devoted to their work for a period of 15 to 25 years. Two are members of the Academy family. Laurie Anderson, RAAR 2006 will have production and broadcasting studios as well as exhibition space. Jenny Holzer, RAAR 2004 will install both existing and new work. Read more.

Kevin Walz, FAAR 1995, has moved to back to New York after living in Trastevere for 19 years. The New York Times recently wrote about his new digs in East Harlem. 

Sometimes it seems that the Academy is connected to just about everything in some way. The tradition of American Christmas trees is no exception. Academy founder Charles Follen McKim was named after the gentleman who is credited (by no less a source than Harvard University) with having the first decorated tree in New England, in his Boston home in 1832. Charles Follen, a contemporary of McKim’s father, was a prominent abolitionist, Unitarian minister, and the first professor of German at Harvard. 

The novel event was recorded by the writer Harriet Martineau in an 1832 pamphlet. “I was present at the introduction into the new country of the spectacle of the German Christmas tree…It looked really beautiful: the room seemed to blaze, and the ornaments were hung so well that no accident happened except that one doll’s petticoat caught fire. There was a sponge tied to the end of a stick to put out any supernumerary, and no harm ensued.”