Playscape: Contemporary Art from the Colby Museum’s Collection - Exhibitions

Playscape: Contemporary Art from the Colby Museum’s Collection

January 17–April 22, 2024

Joan Dignam Schmaltz Gallery of Art at the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, Downtown Waterville

From the platform of an innovative television show that aired from 1968 to 2001, Mister Rogers (played by Fred Rogers) made a distinction between everyday life and the world of play, in his case the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Play, he surmised, was “the real work of childhood.” Yet our relationship to play extends into adulthood, and it’s safe to say many of us could use more of it in our lives. We learn by playing, and play is key to creativity and resilience. It can also be uniquely absorbing, releasing us from an awareness of time. In such moments, we have entered the realm of the playscape.

Inspired by the 2023–25 Colby College Center for the Arts and Humanities theme of play, and sourced from the Colby Museum’s collection, this exhibition invites you to consider the role of play in contemporary art. Games and art have elements in common: both depend on rituals, practices, and rules, whether passed down through generations or conceived on the spot. Likewise, artwork titles can be occasions for wordplay. Some artists deploy their imaginations to create three-dimensional worlds on two-dimensional surfaces. With every such artwork, the viewer completes the piece through an act of suspended disbelief.

Playscape will feature works in a wide range of mediums and include new acquisitions. It will also be accompanied by a Creative Cart filled with hands-on projects for visitors of all ages. 

A painting of a baseball game with the green field in the center and many figures in the blue stands surrounding the field

Ralph Fasanella, Night Game-Practice Time, 1979. Oil on canvas, 40 x 50 in. (101.6 x 127 cm). The Lunder Collection; 2013.120

Selected Works

Click on any image above to see captions and view larger.

Banner image: David Salle, Rips in the Mirror, 1998. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 144 1/2 in. (182.9 x 367 cm). Gift of the Alex Katz Foundation; 2010.025