Speaker: Valerie A. Balint
This paper will trace the trajectory and future vision for the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program (HAHS), an initiative of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as it embarks on its third decade. This consortium of 55 preserved artists’ home and studios, located in 25 states, is the only national organization focused on advocacy for preserved artists’ spaces, and dedicated to amplifying a site-specific story of our country’s art history. Yet, until recently, the program’s member sites have largely represented the spaces of iconic white male artists firmly placed within the traditional Canon, and properties preserved and interpreted in classical historic house museum modes. Ms. Balint will demonstrate the active work of HAHS and its leadership to expand and diversify representation within its membership. This includes identifying and accepting more sites representing the legacy of women, artists of color, Indigenous artists, those artists identifying as LGBTQ+, as well as self-taught artists. This commitment to diversity also requires a re-examination of the traditional definitions of and boundaries around concepts of studio and home to include artists, cultures and practices that do not fit into those paradigms. Balint will draw from past, recent, and prospective membership sites to illustrate HAHS’ evolution.
Valerie Balint is the Senior Program Manager for Historic Artist’s Homes and Studios (HAHS), a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the author of Guide to Historic Artists' Homes and Studios (Princeton Architectural Press, June 2020). Prior to heading HAHS, beginning in spring 2017, Balint served for seventeen years on the curatorial staff at Frederic Church’s Olana (also a HAHS site), most recently as Interim Director of Collections and Research. She was co-organizer and co-curator of Olana’s annual exhibitions and accompanying publications, and co-author of Glories of the Hudson: Frederic Church’s View from Olana (Cornell Press 2009). Her previous work also includes curatorial positions at Chesterwood and the Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio (also HAHS sites). She also served as the New York State Coordinator of “Save Outdoor Sculpture,” a program of the Smithsonian American Art Museum to document all public sculpture in the United States.