In December 1997, I met Susan Erony, an artist and curator from Gloucester, Massachusetts. Susan was one of the exhibiting artists in this museumís presentation of Witness and Legacy: Contemporary Art About the Holocaust, curated by Dr. Stephen Feinstein and funded by The Regis Foundation. It was soon evident that Susan was an artist not only deeply involved with and knowledgeable about the subject of that exhibition, but also about the ways in which artists respond to and interpret difficult and challenging subject matter. In conjunction with that exhibition, and with the support of art department chair Dr. Roberta Bernstein, the University at Albany engaged the artist as Visiting Lecturer. While teaching here, Susan invited me to discuss an exhibition she had organized with criminologist Dr. Nicole Rafter for Northeastern Universityís Centennial year. The theme and content of the exhibition was of considerable interest to me and fortuitously, her co-curator Dr. Rafter is a graduate of the University at Albanyís School of Criminal Justice. (U/Aís program is one of the preeminent Schools of Criminal Justice in the United States.)

When Dr. Rafter came to Albany in 1998 to receive a Distinguished Alumna Award from the University, I met with her and Susan to discuss the possibility of expanding their original exhibition for a fall 2000 presentation in this museum.  

We assembled a campus wide Advisory Committee from among various U/A academic disciplines, including a number of faculty from the School of Criminal Justice.  With strong support and encouragement from (then) Dean Dennis Rosenbaum, and now Interim Dean James Acker, and with the advice and input of the Advisory Committee (the names are listed elsewhere in the catalog) we moved forward on the project.  I wish to gratefully acknowledge their assistance, especially that of Dr. Lillian Williams.  I particularly thank Dr. Frankie Bailey of the School of Criminal Justice for her ongoing support of the project and for her efforts in organizing the conference.  Other contributions were made by the New York State Writers Institute (Film Series) and the U/A Center for the Arts and Humanities (Downtown Forum), and I thank William J. Kennedy, Donald Faulkner, and Dr. Sandra Buckley for this support.  

The curatorial essays, extensive label texts, and exhibition objects are not only explanatory, but revealing and illuminating as well, shining light on not so attractive areas in our history of using biological theories to explain and interpret criminal behavior.  The University Art Museum is extremely grateful to both curators for the many hours of travel, research, writing and advice they have given the museum staff throughout the exhibitís organization.  We feel educated and honored to have worked with them.  We are grateful for their solid presentations that help us process our own experiences and emotions in a culture ripe with the potential for violence.

During the organization of the exhibition, an unexpected addition was made to the curatorial process when Dr. Stanley Burns accepted our proposal to curate a discreet exhibit from The Burns Archive within the larger exhibition context.  Dr. Burns, a New York City Opthamologist, has assembled one of the worldís largest archives of the history of crime photography and other themes.  Both curators join me in expressing our deep appreciation to Dr. Burns and his wife, Sara, for the loan of works from their collection and for the extensive label text they provided for each object.

Another aspect of the exhibition is a selection of rare books, and we are indeed grateful to Bibliographer for Social Welfare and Criminal Justice, Mary Jane Brustman of the University at Albanyís Dewey Library for her help in assembling the numerous volumes with their accompanying text.

The University Art Museum is also grateful to the institutions and private collectors who generously loaned from their collections.  In particular I would again like to acknowledge the importance of the loans from Grant Romer and his enthusiastic participation. 

An exhibitionís theme and a curatorís intent, no matter how clear in the curatorís mind, depend on the talent and expertise of an exceptional designer for their realization, and the University Art Museum is blessed with one of the best and most talented≠óZheng Hu.  This exhibition has been especially demanding.  On behalf of the museum and the exhibit curators we acknowledge and recognize that without Zhengís dedication, ingenuity and hard work and that of the museumís Preparator, Jeffrey Wright-Sedam, this exhibit would have collapsed under its own weight.  Zheng and Jeffrey met constantly with the curators, artists and lenders to design the most appropriate way in which to guide the museum visitor through complex material and we celebrate and congratulate them on their accomplishments.  The long hours of their work was supported in great measure by the essential role that student staff members Donald Rains and Marcia Aitcheson played in the execution of the Designerís and Preparatorís plans.  Additional help, where needed, was also cheerfully given by Naomi Lewis, Brian Caverly and Greg Hitchcock and we thank them as well.

From the beginning of the project Joanne Lue, the museum secretary, has been essential in every activity and in her own special way has kept communication flowing between all participants.  Additionally the voluminous exhibit catalog copy and fact checking fell to her, as well as the Public Program activities scheduling.  She completed a very difficult job in her usual excellent manner.

Sue Wood served as our Registrar for the exhibition and did a first rate job of negotiating the loans from institutions and artists, coordinating shipping with the museumís Preparator, and coordinating checklists with the curators.  We were fortunate indeed to have her with us on this project.

The Assistant to the Director Corinna Schaming has assembled, along with other staff members, essential catalog copy, artistsí biographies, media materials, and images, and performed promotional activities and other myriad duties so important to the project.  I especially want to thank Corinna for her constant support of the project and willingness to help in any way.

Wren Panzella, the museumís Collections Manager, although involved in a major collections project for the University, also cheerfully pitched in to help where needed.  We are always glad to have Wren on a project. 

We welcome to the museum staff Graduate Student Assistant Sairam Chinnam and thank him for the wonderful job he did creating the website for the exhibition (www.albany.edu/museum).  We also acknowledge and thank Nicholas Lue for his assistance with the project.

Enormous thanks are due Karen R. Hitchcock, President, University at Albany for her support of and commitment to the project.  Without this support the exhibit simply could not have been presented.  I also want to acknowledge the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs for its belief in this project.  We are  grateful to Assemblymen John J. McEneny and Ronald J. Canestrari for their sponsor support in the form of a New York State Legislative Initiative Grant.

A wonderful job by all members of the museum family--I am very proud and honored to work with such an exceptional staff.  The University Art Museum is pleased to present the meaningful exhibition Searching the Criminal Body: Art/Science/Prejudice.


  Marijo Dougherty
  Director