Joanne Toor Cummings '50 Professor Emeritus of Art
Joined Connecticut College: 1971-2011
B.F.A., Rhode Island School of Design; M.F.A., Cranbrook Academy of Art
• Foundations • Collage and mixed media • Drawing, advanced drawing • Methods
"Swan Song," an exhibition of works by Maureen McCabe, was held in March, 2011, at the College's Cummings Arts Center to mark her retirement from teaching at the end of the 2010-2011 academic year.
"Swan Song" featured examples of her art from each of the four decades she taught at Connecticut College. The pieces were made up of disparate materials - including drawn images, toys, prints, coins, tokens, cards and countless varieties of found objects - that are woven into complex narratives of ancient mythology, Celtic history and popular American culture.
The exhibition catalogue for her 2005 show at the Vose Galleries in Boston read, "McCabe's work falls into a category of 20th century assemblage art that at once challenges the traditional conception of representational art while at the same time offering new possibilities for defining realism."
"Maureen McCabe is a well-known collagist whose work often incorporates antique materials, talismen, magic relics, personal keepsakes, real gold and silver, and much else. Her works are highly researched, complex, and original amalgams of so many elements that one literally needs an explanatory chart to understand them fully. However, even without detailed explanation, her works are about mystery and magic. The dual focus of McCabe's upbringing, combining strict Irish Roman Catholic beliefs with superstition, has contributed to the intensely personal and evocative character of her art." - Nancy Hall Duncan.
In reference to McCabe's work The Connecticut Biennial (1989) reads "A collagist is one who, by definition, forms connections. This Maureen McCabe does in an unprecedented way." McCabe in turn brings her talent to her course "Drawing: Methods," a course that includes dream imagery, and her foundation art courses on drawing, design, and color.
Named the Joanne Toor Cummings '50 Professor of Studio Art in 2001, McCabe received the1997-1998 John S. King Faculty Teaching Award in recognition of teaching excellence at Connecticut College.
McCabe developed her work during her residency at Yaddo, her first artistic honor. In the following years she received a National Endowment for the Arts Grant through the Renwick Gallery/Smithsonian Institution; was sponsored by Darthea Speyer of the Darthea Speyer Gallery in Paris for a residency at the Cité des Arts, Paris; and received a Mellon Grant to do research for a then new course taught at Connecticut College titled "Women in Modern Art." In 1988, the Rockefeller Foundation sponsored McCabe as an Artist-in-Residence at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center at the Villa Serbelloni.
McCabe has an extensive record of museum and gallery exhibitions in the Americas and Europe, including a 2006 retrospective at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington. She is represented by Hollis Taggart Galleries in New York, which featured her in 2009 in a major exhibition and publication titled "The Image in the Box: From Cornell to Contemporary."
She had a solo exhibition at Hollis Taggart in the 2012 exhibition season.
“My teaching at the college has been like a giant collage/assemblage with multiple, changing parts – newly enrolling students, evolving curriculum, and varied lectures and activities, all of which have informed my art and life. In fact, if you change the ‘e’ to an ‘a’ in college – you have collage!” - Maureen McCabe, reflecting on her forty years at Connecticut College
"My favorite activity is sleeping. In my dreams I combine different cultures, see things that I wouldn't conjure while awake. My dream life is on a grander scale than my real life." - Maureen McCabe
"McCabe assigns, realigns, and layers meanings to create works that are expressive of her unique ideals and vision." - Michael Monroe, Renwick Gallery/ Smithsonian Institution.