Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, in its inaugural year, has received a $5 million commitment from the Tyson family and Tyson Foods, Inc., to establish the Tyson Scholars of American Art and the Don Tyson Prize.
Tyson Scholars is a research and residency program that will help promote the study and understanding of American art, while the Don Tyson Prize is a special recognition for lifetime achievement in American art.
Research residency programs provide scholars the opportunity to focus on large-scale projects without the interruptions of their regular professional duties. With the Tyson Scholars of American Art program, Crystal Bridges joins other national institutions, such as the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and the Getty Research Institute, in supporting research that contributes to the overall body of knowledge in the field of American art history.
“American art has historically received too little attention from scholars and academic programs as a field of research,” said Don Bacigalupi, executive director of Crystal Bridges. “Funding for its study has been sadly limited. Here at Crystal Bridges, we have made it part of our mission to help improve that situation. Thanks to the generosity of the Tyson family and Tyson Foods, our museum will be able to develop and foster a community of scholars committed to furthering the understanding and appreciation of American art.
“In addition, through the Don Tyson Prize, named in honor of the late Don Tyson, former chairman and CEO of Tyson Foods, we’ll also be able to honor people who have advanced American art during their career,” said Bacigalupi.
“We’re proud to help establish this unique scholars program and the lifetime achievement award named in honor of my dad,” said John H. Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods. “This gift reflects our long-held love of art as well as our belief in the importance of education. It also demonstrates how much we value the mission of Crystal Bridges and what this incredible museum means to northwest Arkansas and the rest of the nation.”
The Tyson family’s interest in American art began with Don Tyson’s love of traditional American Western art, which he started collecting in the 1960s. His son, John H. Tyson, is also an avid collector. Over the past 20 years he has significantly expanded and diversified what has now become the Tyson Foods corporate collection. It includes the works of such artists as Ansel Adams, Troy Anderson, Thomas Hart Benton, Charlie Dye, Sam Francis, Harry Jackson, Frank McCarthy, Charles M. Russell, Andy Warhol and Jack Woods.
About The Tyson Scholars of American Art
With its base in the nation’s geographical center, the Tyson Scholars program will serve museum and academic professionals from across the world as they pursue essential research on the history of American art. The fundamental on-site resources for the residential research program will be Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection and library.
This program affords and nurtures professional development, mentorship, and the exchange of ideas related to a variety of historical periods, fields, and methodologies. The gift will have an inestimable impact on the museum’s mission of advancing knowledge of American art.
Tyson Scholars will examine established themes and explore new ideas resulting in innovative research in their areas of expertise. As Tyson scholars disseminate the results of their residencies — through nationally distributed, peer reviewed journals, monographs, catalogues, exhibitions, and Ph.D. dissertations — the program will have a long-term impact on the field. The research may also provide fertile ideas for Crystal Bridges’ own dynamic exhibition program, and Scholars will have the opportunity to interact with Crystal Bridges’ curatorial and research staff, as well as the community, through lectures, symposia, and collaborations with the University of Arkansas.
A committee of Crystal Bridges’ staff and art historians from outside the institution will select each term’s Scholars through a competitive application process. Scholars will be selected based on their proposals’ potential contribution to the field of American art and will be scheduled on a rotating cycle that fits the needs of both independent study and scholarly collaboration. Each Tyson Scholar will receive a stipend competitive with other prominent residency programs and will be housed in Bentonville. Applicants may apply for multiple semester-length terms of residency with a stipend for research and travel expenses.
“Residencies such as the Tyson Scholars program provide scholars a rich and immersive experience that is integral to their academic and professional work,” explained Elizabeth Glassman, President & CEO of the Terra Foundation for American Art, which orchestrates an eight-week residency program in Giverny, France, each summer. “Having sustained exposure to Crystal Bridges’ exemplary collection, its library, and a distinguished community of scholars creates a trifecta of opportunity, affording participants a truly unparalleled experience for deepening insights. Congratulations to Crystal Bridges for establishing this rich mix in their community.”
About The Don Tyson Prize
In conjunction with its generous endowment for the Scholars program, the Tyson family and Tyson Foods have also funded the Don Tyson Prize: an unprecedented award for lifetime achievement in American art. A jury of respected museum and academic art historians empanelled by the museum will recommend for recognition an individual whose work has significantly advanced knowledge in the field of American art over the course of a career. The honor carries a cash prize as well as recognition by Crystal Bridges during an event given in the recipient’s honor. Crystal Bridges has begun the selection process for the first winner, who will be announced once the rigorous nominating and vetting process has been completed.
Inaugural Tyson Scholars:
Matthew Bailey, St. Louis, MO
Matthew Bailey is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History and Archaeology and a Lynn Cooper Harvey Fellow in American Culture Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He has also held dissertation fellowships from the Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies and the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library.
As a Tyson Scholar at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Matthew Bailey will continue work on his dissertation, which examines the way artists conceptually and physically interacted with paint in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Jason Weems, Riverside, CA
Dr. Weems is an assistant professor at the University of California, Riverside where he specializes in American art and visual culture from the colonial period to the present. He’s held fellowships from the Huntington Library, the College Art Association/Terra Foundation for American Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies.
As a Tyson Scholar at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Jason Weems will complete work on his current book manuscript, which examines the development of modern aerial vision and its effect on visual expression during the interwar years.
Susan Rather, Austin, TX
Dr. Rather is a tenured member of the art history faculty in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas, Austin. There since 1986, she has taught and supervised students ranging from beginning undergraduates to doctoral candidates. As a scholar, Rather first published Archaism, Modernism and the Art of Paul Manship. Her work then began to focus on artists during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, with resulting articles on John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, Gilbert Stuart and others appearing in such leading journals as Art Bulletin, American Art, William and Mary Quarterly, and Eighteenth-Century Studies.
As a Tyson Scholar at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Susan Rather will complete her manuscript for a book examining in depth what it meant to be an American artist during the colonial and early national era.