Newsletter 2022: Guest Lectures: In Person and on Zoom
Wednesday, July 27, 2022
Wednesday, July 27, 2022
It was a bit hard for everyone to adjust to being in the same space together so our first live lecture by Professor Vance Byrd, Presidential Associate Professor of German, with a secondary appointment in History of Art, at the University of Pennsylvania, was a hybrid event, with some faculty and students attending in person and others following on zoom. Professor Byrd’s talk on Feb. 10, 2022, focused on the contemporary artist Mark Bradford’s site-specific work Prickett's Charge and its relationship to Paul Philippoteaux’s Cyclorama at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, a vast painted circular representation of the most famous episode of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg.
We also were delighted to welcome Angie Epifano, a PhD candidate in African and African Diaspora art at Yale University, to speak about “Building a Post-colonial Guinean Identity: The Enduring Legacy of Samory Toure’” (March 7)
A major public lecture co-sponsored by the College of Humanities and Fine Arts (March 31) was given by the artist Laylah Ali, who teaches at Williams College. Ali is renowned for her “Greenheads” series of gouache paintings addressing themes of interpersonal violence and human brutality through the interaction of abstract, cartoon-like figures with sneakers, priestly robes, military-inspired costumes, and other attributes. Her work relates to important contemporary debates about race, power, and violence in U.S. society.
Finally, towards the end of the academic year we welcomed Barbara Fahs Charles, Principal, Staples & Charles, Washington DC, who delivered the lecture “Eames: The Exhibitions” (April 27). Charles discussed her years working for the famous designers Charles and Ray Eames. She focused in particular on their less well-known involvement in designing major museum and public exhibitions, including the never-built National Aquarium in DC. While in Amherst, Charles also spoke with Professor Denny’s class on Decorative Arts about Eames furniture, and to his Museum Studies Seminar about her considerable experience in exhibition design.
Much as we enjoyed the opportunity to listen to speakers in person, we also recognized the potential of bringing scholars to campus virtually. In the evening of October 4th, Ellen Tani, A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts delivered the lecture “Objectified Beyond Recognition: Black Conceptual Practice in the Early Systems Art of Charles Gaines” on zoom, and in the Spring semester, March 1, Medievalist scholar Professor Shirin Fozi (University of Pittsburgh) delivered the online lecture “Eidolon and Anima: Romanesque Portraiture and the Problem of the Soul” in conjunction with the Five College Medieval Studies Faculty Seminar.
Zoom also allowed us to reach a wider audience this year for our annual “Success Stories” discussion by alumni. This year’s event featured Christy Anderson (MA 1985), Professor of Architectural History at the University of Toronto and currently Editor-in-Chief of the Art Bulletin; Anthony Barbera (BA 2012), Director of Business Development at Barbera Insurance; Maggie North (MA 2020), Curator of Art at the Springfield Museums; and Rachel Sweeney (BA 2021), graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Another set of alumni joined us for the College of Humanities and Fine Arts online event “Museum 2022: Current Topics and Future Vision.” Speakers included Gisela Carbonell (MA 2002), Curator at the Cornella Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida; Lan Morgan (BA 2009), Assistant Curator at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA; Sarah Oh (BA 2015), Public Art and Collections Manager at MIT List Visual Arts Center; and Jill Roberts (BA 1983), IT Project Manager at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington DC.