Announcements for Dec. 16, 2020

  • Dana Jennings, Toxic Youth, volume 3, page 41, ink on paper

Published: 12/17/2020 10:25:42 AM
Modified: 12/17/2020 10:25:32 AM
Virtual art exhibit

A new online exhibit of sketchbooks, “Toxic Youth,” by New York Times editor and University of New Hampshire alumnus Dana Jennings ‘80 will be on view on the Museum of Art’s website,, from Dec. 14 to April 2.

“Toxic Youth” features volumes 2, 3, and 4 of Jennings’s sketchbooks that recall his experiences and memories of his youth, working with his father at Kingston Steel Drum factory. Jennings scoured industrial 55-gallon steel drums used to hold paint and motor oil, pesticides, and other chemicals. The factory, shut down by the EPA in the early 1980s, became a Superfund hazardous waste site that is still monitored today.

Jennings has nearly been killed by ulcerative colitis, aggressive prostate cancer, and copes with a second autoimmune disease, which causes weeping wounds to erupt on his lower abdomen from the inside out. Jennings’ father struggles with metastatic colon cancer and emphysema. Many of the chemicals Jennings came in contact with are linked with such diseases.

Jennings’s sketchbooks grew out of his impatience for words. “My sketchbooks are a place where I can bushwhack through my memory,” Jennings says. “Visions of Kingston Steel Drum are seared into my memory. The place was living darkness, and where I learned the many textures of death. In these sketchbooks, I’ve tried to flense to the essential, tried to draw with a dirty expressionism, a punk fury, that brings the factory and its men back to life.”

Jennings, born and raised in Kingston, N.H., graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1980 and started his newspaper career as a reporter for The Exeter News-Letter and The Union Leader. He spent eight years at The Wall Street Journal as an editor and writer and moved to The New York Times in 1993, where he currently is a senior staff editor. His roles at the Times have included ski editor, features writer, and most recently cancer blogger. Jennings published three novels, a children’s book, and two works of nonfiction.

“Toxic Youth” is a virtual exhibition with programming available while the Museum is closed and while University students are on winter break. Kristina Durocher, director, Museum of Art says: “One of the opportunities virtual exhibitions afford small museums and galleries is the ability to think in different scales. With virtual exhibitions, we can exceed the physical space of the galleries, or design an intensely intimate show highlighting a few objects, such as sketchbooks. The adage is think big, but you can also be hyper-focused thinking small with exciting results.”

Additional virtual programming will include, Sketchbook Clinic, based on Toxic Youth. Weekly sessions include an introduction to the artists’ work from the Museum’s collection, thematic prompts, ample time to share your work with others, and an occasional guest artist. These workshops are open to adults who wish to expand their artistic practice by putting ideas to paper through drawing. The eight-week virtual program is every Monday, noon to 12:45 p.m., Jan. 4 through Feb. 22, cost $40. Register at reg/

A virtual discussion with Jennings and Sue Hertz, UNH Associate Professor, English, to learn about their literary practice, experiences as published authors and newspaper writers, and their research interests. This zoom conversation will take place Feb. 24, 6 to 7 p.m., the moderator will be Kristina Durocher, director of the Museum of Art. Reservations required at tJErd-yvrjwsEtNAsT8IfFBxIWmDhcEtsbER.

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