Rose Art Museum lights up with new exhibitions

A Q&A with Chris Bedford on public art installation

Photos/Mike Lovett

Chris Bedford, the Henry and Lois Foster Director of the Rose Art Museum

Confident, ambitious and decidedly on-trend, Chris Bedford embodies the quicksilver edge of the contemporary art world. Since his arrival on campus just over a year ago as the Henry and Lois Foster Director of the Rose Art Museum, he has been sparking new energy and participation in the arts. His principal challenge was to reinvigorate Brandeis’ museum and more fully integrate it into the life of the university. As a recent Boston Globe profile put it, “He has done that, and more, building a staff, board and exhibition schedule virtually from scratch, acquiring new works, and recruiting a key Boston philanthropist [Lizbeth Krupp] to lead a board…Attendance at the Rose has been climbing steadily since his arrival, from 9,145 before he came to 14,303 in the current year.”

Bedford is not afraid to take risks. And his boldest move is about to begin.

Last November, Bedford announced the commission of an original work of public art on a scale unprecedented in Brandeis history. “Light of Reason,” a large, site-specific sculpture by Chris Burden, will be constructed in front of the museum in 2014. Comprised of 24 restored Victorian lampposts in three rows, the sculptural installation is inspired by the three torches, three hills and three Hebrew letters in the Brandeis University seal. Its title comes from a statement by the university’s namesake, Justice Louis Brandeis: “If we would guide by the light of reason, we must let our minds be bold.”

On a symbolic level, “Light of Reason” signifies the Rose’s hard-earned revitalization and Brandeis’ renewed commitment to being a beacon for art and culture. When the work is unveiled this spring, it will be the only major public art in the city of Waltham and will surely become one of the most visited and recognizable sculptures on any New England campus. The commission is funded through the Rose’s art acquisition endowment, exclusively earmarked for art purchases.

Bedford, one of the youngest museum directors in the U.S., shares how his luminescent vision took shape.

To read the Q&A by Scott Edmiston, director of the Office of the Arts, see the new issue of State of the Arts.

Categories: Arts

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