Lecture: Exploring the Art and Spirit of Polly Thayer Starr
with Christie Jackson
“Art is an expression of life, and life cannot stand still.”
In 1934, artist Polly Thayer Starr wrote these words in an essay, "What the Modern Artist is Trying to Do." Classically trained and well-spoken, Polly bounded onto the 1930s art scene, gaining fame for her formal portraits, some of which are today at the Boston Athenæum. Yet, beyond her studio work, she presented us with an extraordinary invitation to celebrate the complexities of the world around us. She often spoke of looking past what is seen, to what is just beyond our view, and she brought an intensity to how she observed life. In this lecture, we will explore Polly's spirit of discovery though seldom exhibited sketchbooks, studies, and Polly’s own words describing her own artistic process.
Christie Jackson is the Senior Curator for The Trustees of Reservations, the world’s oldest land preservation organization that owns 119 sites, including a dozen historical houses, across Massachusetts. She has a Masters from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in museum education and a Masters from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. While at Winterthur, she was awarded the Montgomery Prize for oratory and connoisseurship and the E. McClung Fleming Thesis Prize for her research on ocean liner interiors. Eventually, she also served as President of the Society of Winterthur Fellows. She co-authored a book with Brock Jobe and Clark Pearce about 19th century Worcester County cabinetmaker Nathan Lumbard, Crafting Excellence: The Furniture of Nathan Lumbard and His Circle. Her current research interests include the historic wallpaper of the Old Manse in Concord and the story of enslaved craftsmanship in the architectural salvage found at Long Hill in Beverly.