Four symposiums during fall semester showcase faculty research
This fall has seen an increase in the number of academic research symposiums hosted at Bowdoin. While past years have featured one or two symposiums, this semester alone there have been three, with a fourth scheduled for next week.
The recent increase in symposiums, which are sponsored in part by the Office of the Dean for Academic Affairs, happened by chance. Some were scheduled for this fall, while others had been postponed from last semester.
“We just happen to have a very rich year this year with four symposia in one semester,” said Interim Dean for Academic Affairs Jennifer Scanlon. “It’s really really wonderful, but it’s not any great increase.”Scanlon said that the abnormal number this fall would not affect funding for future research symposiums.
This year’s symposiums have been Strange Career of Jim Crow North and West, Across the Divide: Intermediality and American Art, and Religion Before Religion.
The upcoming “Rendering Haitians of Dominican Descent Stateless,” aims to educate the Bowdoin community about the citizenship crisis of Haitian descendants living in the Dominican Republic through a broad scope of lectures from historians, anthropologists and poets. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Diaz will give the Kenneth V. Santagata Memorial lecture on November 3 to kick off the two-day event.
The symposium organizers hope that the broad scope of lectures will enlighten the Bowdoin community on the citizenship crisis regarding the Dominican Republic and Haiti.The nations, which share the island of Hispaniola, have historically had tense relationship. In 2013, a Dominican court ruling rescinded the citizenship of roughly 200,000 Dominican residents of Haitian descendant. Dominican residents who lack formal papers or who appear to be of Haitian descent based on skin color have faced deportations.
“We’re hoping that the theme of the conference will link to a number of courses around campus,” said Roger Howell, Jr. Professor of History Allen Wells, one of the symposium’s organizers. “Chiefly, it’s about educating people that there’s a real problem.”
More broadly, symposiums generally serve as small conferences for Bowdoin professors to present their research alongside colleagues from other academic institutions and their lectures typically pertain to a specific theme.
“This is a much smaller and more intimate setting [than a national conference]. [Professors] can dive more deeply into a smaller topic of interest, and then they get to select a number of people who will come and talk about their work,” said Scanlon.
Assistant Professor of Religion Todd Berzon, who helped organize the October 14 symposium “Religion Before ‘Religion,” said that while some students attend the lectures, he believes that events like these are geared more toward faculty than students.
“They are not overtly directed at the student body... Students are free to go and participate, but it’s usually a more technical sort of conversation,” Berzon said.
Nonetheless, Berzon said that symposiums can be a good experience for students. His “Judaism in the Age of Empires” class attended a lecture during the religion symposium and students learned not only about topics in religion, but also about formal academic scholarship.
“I was pummeled with questions [after my lecture], which is great for students to see, for us to engage, for us to answer difficult questions, for us to say things like ‘I don’t know, that’s a really good question, I hadn’t thought about that,’” said Berzon.
Symposiums have generally been well-received by the Bowdoin community, and the College will continue to host them in the future—although probably not four in one semester.
“These symposia are one measure of the deep intellectual engagement of our faculty. It’s something that we do particularly well,” said Scanlon. “It’s just one of the many nice components of work for our faculty.”
3D printers facilitate lower-cost learning
On the third floor of Druckenmiller Hall, 3D-printing innovations are taking place. There, in the lab of Assistant Professor of Chemistry Soren Eustis, students and faculty are constructing everything from scientific equipment to cartoon figurines from pieces of plastic.
Eustis’ work began in 2012 when he bought a used 3D printer for his lab. A self-proclaimed tinkerer, Eustis wanted to explore the endless possibilities of what he could print. However, he soon found that the used printer was not adequate.
“It turned out that that one was really good for making sort of useless stuff,” said Eustis. “My students loved it, but it really wasn’t reliable enough or precise enough to do anything useful with.”
Shortly after, Eustis received funding from Bowdoin to buy a new 3D printer. He has since moved on from printing figurines to printing objects that have significant use in the lab, like vial racks and parts of a quartz crystal microbalance.
Many object designs are available for free online. Once someone uses the printer this design information, it proceeds to heat plastic filament and extrude it layer by layer until the object is complete.
By making these objects himself, Eustis saves a lot of money. A new quartz crystal microbalance, for example, can cost around $10,000—a steep price for a single piece of equipment. To cut costs, Eustis has been experimenting with building the microbalance himself, which allows him to build prototype designs for several hundred dollars. He prints some pieces and orders the others, like the crystal, that cannot be printed.
“You take away a lot of the cost that isn’t very specialized and then you just spend your money on the important components that can’t be printed,” said Eustis.
He can also test his own designs—rather than using open source plans from the Internet—with less restriction.
“It allows me to try things that I wouldn’t be able to try before,” said Eustis. The hope is that we get good enough at designing things from scratch within the lab so that, if we have a concept, we can completely design it ourselves.”
Eustis finds his work applicable to his classes as well. For his introductory chemistry class, Eustis has printed 3D periodic tables. Both the construction process and Eustis’ teaching approaches have fascinated students.
“I think it’s far better at teaching [students] about scientific apparatuses and what they’re actually doing if we’re designing them ourselves,” said Eustis. “We always lament how instruments these days are so black box. It really is good for students to have some working knowledge of what’s going on inside.”
Students in his lab, like Dave Ruuska ’17, have also used the printer for their own pursuits. Ruuska was able to print a phone case for himself using open source designs from the Internet.
Although Eustis and Ruuska have been successful in the lab, the process of 3D printing—from the design software to the printed objects themselves—is still very much in development.
“It’s an emerging technology,” said Ruuska. “People are still finding new uses for it.”
For those interested, there are several other 3D printers on campus. Though some may be open in the future, none are currently available for general use.
Unveiling the portrait: Museum of Art hosts contemporary collection
The notion of portraiture is challenged in “This Is a Portrait If I Say So: Identity in American Art, 1912 to Today.” The exhibit in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (BCMA) features a wide range of portrait interpretations, including works by iconic American artists Marsden Hartley, Gertrude Stein and Roni Horn, among others.
Portraits, in the traditional sense, focus on the depiction of a person’s face or body. However, in the early 20th century, artists began to explore new, non-traditional ways of expressing the human form.
Hartley’s “One Portrait of One Woman,” a 1916 rendering of Gertrude Stein and an item in the BCMA exhibit, is representative of this change in portraiture—there’s no face, just a teacup set among a vibrant display of abstract shapes.
“These new strategies...were developed to create a sense of an authentic self at a particular moment in time when inherited traditions no longer felt adequate,” said Anne Goodyear, co-director of the Museum.
The artists showcased in the exhibit experimented widely, often representing their human subjects through geometry and inanimate objects. To the uninformed viewer, their works appear to be abstract. However, Goodyear explained there is much more below the surface.
“[Abstraction] provides means to attach specific ideas to color, form, shape, line, which means that artists...can describe things that we can’t necessarily see in the world around us but that we feel to be true to our experience,” she said.
As a supplement to the show, the Museum hosted Sarah Greenough, senior curator and head of the department of photographs at the National Gallery of Art, on Tuesday evening in Kresge Auditorium. Greenough shared her thoughts on this form of portraiture through the lens of Georgia O’Keeffe, whose abstract portrait, “Green-Grey Abstraction,” is on display. O’Keeffe painted pieces titled as portraits but did not include any human forms.
“When O’Keeffe says that her paintings are portraits of people…[she is] talking about a picture that captures an experience she had, which encapsulated her feelings for that person,” Greenough said in her lecture. “She’s making portraits of feelings and experiences more than people.”
Like O’Keeffe’s paintings, other works in the exhibit differ from the accepted notion of what a portrait should look like. Some examine identity from a biological perspective, like Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s DNA portrait, while others explore it through the lens of sexuality, like a portrait on LGBT identity by transgender artist L.J. Roberts. Exhibit viewers are thus forced to confront what sort of identities these depictions represent.
By curating this exhibit and bringing speakers like Greenough to the College, the Museum hopes to continue a campus-wide and nation-wide discussion on personal identity.
“We happen to be living in a historical moment where questions of identity have perhaps a particular urgency, largely because we are living in a moment in time when identity has become both increasingly fluid and, in some senses, increasingly politicized,” said Goodyear. “[The exhibit] becomes an opportunity for students at Bowdoin to both engage with important questions...about the way in which we represent our own identity [and] also historical strategies that artists have adopted precisely when they felt that inherited strategies were not adequate.”
“This Is a Portrait If I Say So: Identity in American Art, 1912 to Today” is on display until October 23.
Hecht publishes Oppenheimer history
David Hecht, an assistant professor of history, has connected his teaching interests and personal research in the publication of “Storytelling and Science: Rewriting Oppenheimer in the Nuclear Age.” Released this past spring, his book uses physicist Robert Oppenheimer as a way to explore public perceptions of science, a common theme throughout many of his courses at Bowdoin.
Hecht discussed his book on Tuesday during a book release event for students and faculty.Oppenheimer was famous during World War II for his work on the atomic bomb. While claims that he was a member of the Communist party affected his position in the U.S. government, his popular public image did not seem to be tarnished by these allegations.
While he uses this information to build a story on Oppenheimer, Hecht stresses that his book is not a biography of the physicist.
“The book isn’t really about him...the book is about his cultural image,” said Hecht. “I’m interested in public images of science, so the question is what can we learn about public attitude through science by looking at the life and career of this one guy.”
Hecht has always been interested in the physicists of the Nuclear Age—he is currently teaching a course titled “The Nuclear Age.” After accumulating general knowledge about this time period, Hecht spent around two years researching and writing his book.
Over the course of his research, Hecht discovered new aspects of Oppenheimer that surprised him, particularly about his personality.
“I started out admiring him in some way,” said Hecht. “I wouldn’t say that I’ve gone all the way to the other side, but you learn about the less savory aspects of people’s careers.”
These “less savory” aspects include Oppenheimer’s arrogant and sometimes caustic behavior towards his peers. These traits were perhaps covered up by his somewhat mythical public image.
Similarly, many Oppenheimer supporters say that the accusations of him being a Communist were unfounded, but Hecht’s research seems to indicate otherwise.
“During the course of the research, I found a couple of scholars and people at the time who were making an argument that he very well may have been [a member of the party],” said Hecht. “That is a more compelling argument than I thought it was going to be.”
This semester, Hecht has been able to apply his book research to his Nuclear Age class. This research allowed him to further his understanding of some of the nuances of Oppenheimer’s story.
“What I would say [before writing the book] wasn’t exactly wrong, but there are some really interesting subtleties and connections that I can now make in class that I wouldn’t have been able to make before,” said Hecht.
Dallas Denery, chair of the history department, finds that this combination of teaching and research is important for maintaining the Bowdoin history department’s high standards. However, he feels the research aspect of teaching often goes unnoticed by students.
“I think it’s important for the students to see both sides of the faculty and to see how important the research is even for the teaching side,” said Denery.
Hecht’s book allows students a view into professors’ out-of-class work. While Bowdoin students will most likely not be reading “Storytelling and Science” in their classes, many are still excited by Hecht’s work.
“When you think about [World War II], [the atomic bomb] is one of the more contentious topics that still has immediate relevance to what we are dealing with today,” said Conner Lovett ’19, a student in Hecht’s Nuclear Age class.
“Storytelling and Science: Rewriting Oppenheimer in the Nuclear Age” is on sale in the Bowdoin Bookstore.
‘Night Vision’ sheds light on art museum’s favorite and unique works
The Bowdoin College Museum of Art brings new perspective to its galleries in “Night Vision: Nocturnes in American Art, 1860-1960.” This show, featuring approximately 90 American works, is one of the first to gather nocturnal scenes of a wide variety of media.The depiction of night is common in art, and the museum’s staff was intrigued by the subject’s appeal. The time period the staff chose to focus on is bookended by two important times in illuminating the night—the dawn of electricity in the mid-19th century and the beginning of the Space Age in the 1960s.
“It’s interesting to think about why artists are drawn to the night,” said Museum Co-Director Frank Goodyear. “Is it the challenge of painting or printing or photographing in darkness? Is it the visual effects that create interesting artistic moments? Is it the quality of life during the night that interests artists?”
Joachim Homann, the museum curator, realized that two of Bowdoin’s most beloved American paintings—Winslow Homer’s “The Fountains at Night” and Andrew Wyeth’s “Night Hauling”—both featured night images.
“If people were talking about American paintings in our collection, they were often remarking on those two and how fond they were of them,” said Homann. “I realized that they were both nocturnal scenes.”
Soon after, Homann began building a show from Bowdoin’s collection and loans from other museums. The Museum has amassed close to 90 pieces for the show, a third of which are from Bowdoin’s collection. The others have been lent by 30 other galleries, including works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.Of the 90 works, Frank Goodyear recommends Bowdoin’s own “Fountains at Night” by Winslow Homer.
“It really directly addresses the theme of the show, which is what it is like to paint at night,” he said. “In particular, “Fountains at Night” [addresses] how does electrical light illuminate a scene.”
“It is an exhibition that very much looks at both the literalness of nighttime and transition but also metaphorically what that means,” Museum Co-Director Anne Goodyear added.One work in the exhibition falls outside the 100-year time period on which the show focuses: Michel Auder’s video installation, which explores the night from the perspective of an apartment in New York City.
“It provides a counterpoint to the “Night Vision” show from a contemporary perspective,” said Homann. “It’s beautiful and poetic work, but it’s also a little creepy, but it’s about seeing what other people are doing at night. Michel Auder is experiencing things in the night that really resonate with things that have happened in the last 100 years before him.”
The Museum also arranged auxiliary work to accompany the main gallery shows. A series of artists and art historians, including scholar Alexander Nemerov and artist Richard Bosman, will appear this fall. The Museum has also produced a catalogue book of essays and artwork to accompany the show.
“The experience of the exhibition is very local, and the book helps us to engage audiences globally,” said Homann. “It helps to spread the reputation of the College far beyond the campus."
The catalogue and lectures have also helped transition the show from its summer phase into a fall one geared for students and academics.
“Night Vision” closes on October 18. The Student Night at the Museum on September 25, which opens the galleries at night for a cappella, hors d’oeuvres and art, is another opportunity for students to view the exhibition.
“[The show] really is an opportunity in a very succinct fashion for students to come and get to know the collection better but above all to think about their own dreams and the things that draw them forward,” said Anne Goodyear.
Student project takes on sexual assault through theater
This semester, James Jelin ’16 has been writing and directing his own play, “Blackout,” for his independent study. Blackout will debut on Sunday, May 3 at 7 p.m. in 108 Memorial Hall.Jelin’s play focuses on the relationship between two female first years at a liberal arts college much like Bowdoin. These women, played by Quincy Koster ’15 and Maggie Seymour ’16, have differing opinions about partying and drinking. Additional roles are played by Austin Goldsmith ’18, Ben Cumings ’15, Taylor Love ’16 and Charlie Campbell-Decock ’17.
“They both come into the school and feel a little bit lost, as many of us do,” said Jelin. “One of them...starts drinking a lot and sleeping around. The other one...isn’t really into the party scene and finds herself a little bit disgusted with some of the patriarchal stuff she’s seeing on campus.”
The girls’ friendship becomes strained when Koster’s character is sexually assaulted and does not want to report the incident.
This project stems from Jelin’s own interest in women’s studies, religion, and feminism. His experiences in Associate Professor of Religion Elizabeth Pritchard’s class, Gender, Body and Religion, inspired him to put his thoughts down on paper.
“When he approached me [for advising], I said sure,” said Pritchard. “He knew that I don’t write plays, I don’t generally teach that material, but he wanted a person to read the material and have some conversations about gender and religion.”
Jelin’s engagement in the issues of religion and sexual violence has moved beyond the classroom and into his extracurricular work.
“I wrote these two female characters because it felt like a more straightforward way of addressing the things I was interested in,” said Jelin. “It feels personal to me, like I’m working through stuff that occupies my mind very frequently.”
Jelin felt that the visual experience of the story would be a powerful way to discuss gender and sexuality issues. Therefore, he wanted to bring the story to the stage.
“It’s really important to explore the way these issues affect the other aspects in people’s lives,” said Jelin. “That’s something that theater especially can do because it’s such a visceral [experience].”
Last summer, he wrote a 30-minute version of “Blackout” at a playwriting program at Vassar College. This semester, he has adapted it into a longer performance with help from Pritchard and Professor of Theater Davis Robinson.
Jelin began to approach actors about the project in January.
“I’m glad that he’s having these conversations,” said Koster. “I think a lot of people are hesitant to, and he’s just going all in, which is great.”
Jelin hopes that with his play he can help further discussions on gender issues and assault.
“With something like sexual assault, we have a very canned, scripted understanding of how it works,” said Jelin. “I was also very interested in taking two really specific characters and saying ‘how does this function in their lives,’ as opposed to writing a play about feminism or about sexual assault.”
Koster supports Jelin’s mission.
“I hope people aren’t going to be dissuaded by the fact that [Jelin’s] just another white guy,” said Koster.
Incidentally, “Another White Guy” is the title of the opinion column that Jelin writes for the Orient.
“He’s put so much into it—it’s a fantastic project—and I’m proud of him.”
DJ of the Week: Seniors Stevie Lane, Amanda Maisel and Peter Nauffts
How did you get involved in WBOR?Peter Nauffts: It was during Ivies. It was one of those Ivies things.Amanda Maisel: It was a drunk Ivies promise that actually happened.Stevie Lane: It actually happened. I feel like I had ambitions to be better friends with both of these people, so this was going to be a way to do it.
What do you do on the show?PN: Just play music.AM: It varies. We’ve had a few thematic episodes where we talk a lot.SL: We did a special for Valentine’s Day, where we had our friends call in and dedicate songs to other friends. They could request limericks, so we would write love limericks and recite them.AM: Most of our show consists of Stevie and I embarrassing Peter exactly in the way that we are now.PN: That’s true.AM: And in between we play some music.PN: That’s true.
What kind of music do you play?AM: We play at least one song per show that one of our parents thinks is for them because it’s oldies. We play a lot of Fleetwood Mac.SL: We’ve started this new thing where we pull a CD off the shelf and play the first song that’s on the CD.AM: But before we got the CDs to work, we pulled a song and played it on YouTube, which is embarrassing.
What’s behind the name “Face of Radio?”AM: Radio is for ugly people, so Face of Radio is supposed to be funny.SL: Both ironic and incredibly unoriginal, which is maybe what our entire show is actually.
Who is your audience?AM: Most of our show is playing oldies for me and Stevie’s parents.SL: Also my aunt and uncle out in Minneapolis, they tune in, so we have a pretty wide, geographic—AM: Intergenerational—SL: Our geographic spread is pretty impressive.AM: Peter has not told his parents that we have a radio show, so his parents aren’t part of the audience.
Favorite moments from the show?SL: There’s a bathroom [in the radio station], and I’m really afraid of closed and tight spaces. I had to pee, so I went to the bathroom. And there are cinderblocks in there, and Peter and Amanda put a cinderblock outside the door, so I couldn’t get out of the bathroom, and I panicked at the time. Looking back, that was a highlight moment of our radio show.AM: I think any time that we speak and Peter is similarly uncomfortable with us making fools of ourselves, as he is now, is a pretty great moment.
Anything new you’ve learned?PN: We don’t play that much new music.SL: Two weeks ago I learned that Peter doesn’t like gummies.PN: What?SL: Two weeks ago I learned that you don’t like gummies.PN: Oh I thought we were talking about music.SL: Well we’re talking about what we learned in the show.AM: I feel like we all got to know each other’s music tastes a little bit, even if it’s oldies. Sometimes I learn of new music via Stevie’s parents’ requests.SL: Traffic. Every time we play Traffic, we do independently because we like Traffic. But my dad texts me “Are you doing this for me?” And I’m like “No, I guess thanks for listening…”
Any listeners or callers you know of?SL: We learned that the Brunswick High School girls’ basketball team likes to listen to us because they call in.AM: Occasionally friends.SL: We did get one guy from town who called in and requested a Paul Simon song, which is totally in our flavor, then said “good job, keep playing good music.”
Final thoughts for your audience?SL: Peter, want to take this one?PN: Nope.AM: Everyone should have a radio show.PN: That’s good, everyone should have a radio show, or try it.AM: It’s really fun. If there is any take-away from this interview, it is that you don’t have to be very legit to have a radio show. You can just be figuring out music along the way.
Tune in to “Face of Radio” with DJs Lane, Maisel and Nauffts on WBOR 91.1 FM every Tuesday from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. or stream online at wbor.org. To suggest a DJ for DJ of the Week or an Artist for Portrait of an Artist, email Arts & Entertainment Editor Emily Weyrauch at email@example.com.
Installation presents various media representations of sexual and domestic violence
The living room of Quinby House was transformed into an installation piece yesterday, the walls covered with articles, headlines and images about domestic violence. Questions prompting viewers to think critically about the media they consume were interspersed throughout the installation.
The exhibition, called “‘Sharing’ Trauma: Representations of Sexual and Domestic Violence in Social Media” was put together by the Alliance for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP) as part of Consent is Sexy Week, a week of programming that aims to prevent sexual assault and to promote healthy sexual encounters and relationships.
Jackie Fickes ’15, one of ASAP’s leaders, was inspired to create the exhibit by the recent, high-profile media coverage of domestic abuse and sexual assault cases, especially those involving NFL player Ray Rice and the University of Virginia.
“Every time there is something huge like that in the media, you’re going to get a lot of other smaller opinion pieces and similar stories that seem to be cropping up everywhere,” said Fickes.
Fickes, with the help of sophomores Alexis Espinal, Ryan Herman, Caroline Montag, Hayley Nicholas, Emily Weyrauch, Emma Patterson ’16 and Kaylee Wolfe ’15, began to think about the implications of these stories.
“We started asking a lot of questions that people may not take the time to think of,” Fickes said. “Who’s telling the stories? Whose stories are being told?…Whose voices are silenced? What does it mean if we hit ‘like’ or ‘share’? What are the effects of all these narratives on survivors?”
With the power of social media, sexual assault news is being circulated much more widely and quickly. The installation aims to provide a setting for students to think about the implications of that.
“That was really our idea, to get people thinking about the proliferation in the media of these issues and how it gets represented and then asking more critical questions,” said Fickes.Director of Gender Violence Prevention and Education Benje Douglas stressed the significance of these critical questions.
“It’s an event that’s meant to combine people’s public understanding of the issue and go a little bit deeper to the online public version, which is somewhat different,” said Douglas. “I think that’s an important juxtaposition for people to see what is said, what is written and what really happens.”
The opening of the installation, which will be up through this weekend, coincided with Leslie Morgan Steiner’s Thursday evening talk titled “Understanding Relationship Violence” in Kresge Auditorium. Fickes has been working since the fall to bring the renowned author and sexual violence survivor to Bowdoin.
“[Steiner] was in an abusive romantic relationship, so she uses her own narrative to tell that story and to raise awareness,” said Fickes.
Quinby House’s more removed location was ideal for the installation given the sensitive nature of its subject.
“[The installation is for] people who specifically want to be looking at this and asking those questions,” said Fickes. “It’s also easily avoidable if that’s not something you want to be engaging with.”
Charlotte Dillon ’16, a member of Safe Space, attended the opening. “I think this is really nice because it makes you reflect on [...] things that you see every day,” she said.
“You see it in social media, on the Internet, and sometimes it’s very easy to not really stop and reflect,” said Dillon.
Both Douglas and Fickes hope that conversations like the ones prompted by the exhibition and speaker can continue past Consent is Sexy Week.
“I think it’s pretty easy as students here to get focused on the everyday classes and sports and other things that take up time,” said Douglas. “This is a way to step back and see what’s really been said about the issue.”
Editor’s Note: Weyrauch is the Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Orient.
Professor Wethli shows work in French gallery
Mark Wethli, the A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Art, has been traveling near and far during his sabbatical this semester. Three of his works are currently being shown at Galerie Look & Listen in Saint-Chamas, France.
Running from March 21 to May 16, the show, entitled “Trames” (the French word for weft—crosswise threads on a loom), focuses on works of various media that involve woven fabrics. Wethli’s three paintings, done on handmade canvases of woven paper, are shown alongside pieces from thirteen other European and American artists.
Wethli’s three paintings, “Ghost Parade,” “You Just Haven’t See My Good Side Yet,” and “In Case You Ponderin’,” were created in 2014. They are each 10 by eight inches each and painted on woven Jaipur paper with Flashé acrylic.
“I had a number of paintings on paper that weren’t going anywhere (art speak for boring), and I suddenly wondered what they would look like if I cut them into strips and reassembled them,” wrote Wethli in an email to the Orient.
“That turned out to be not all that interesting either, but the structure of the object caught my attention as a surface to paint on.”
A friend in New York, who knew about Wethli’s unique canvases and paintings, helped put him in touch with one of the show’s organizers, and his work was then included.
“The way I found out about the show in France is a very good example of what a sabbatical can do, and also one way in which the art world works, which is by word of mouth,” wrote Wethli.
This sabbatical and a parental leave last semester have provided Wethli time to focus on his family and his artistic career outside of Bowdoin. He is currently living in Princeton, N.J., with his wife and daughter to be closer to the art scenes in New York and Philadelphia.
“Sabbaticals are a wonderful opportunity for Bowdoin faculty to delve into our fields of interest, travel to primary resources, and strengthen our knowledge in our respective fields,” he wrote. “In my case, this has included more time in the studio and closer involvement with the art world.”
In addition to the current show in France, Wethli has been part of a group show at The Painting Center in New York and organized a show at The Curator Gallery during his leave from Bowdoin.
“My goals are simply to pursue my work, introduce more people to what I do, and establish a better understanding of current issues in contemporary painting through first-hand studio visits and conversations with curators, art dealers, and other artists,” Wethli wrote.
When he returns in the fall, he will be teaching Drawing I and Painting II.
“The benefits of this time away have a direct relationship to the classroom when faculty return to their teaching,” he wrote. “Many of the photos and mental notes that I make during my gallery visits are with my classes in mind.”
Wethli realized his potential in art in high school and has been involved with it ever since. He has taught visual arts at Bowdoin since 1985.
“During my first few years of teaching I felt a strain between my time as an artist and my time as a teacher, but a single remark by a wonderful artist, Betye Saar, gave me the answer,” he wrote. “When asked how she divided her time between her art and being a mother, she answered, ‘I didn’t.’ She found ways to make them work together to enhance both—something I look forward to applying as a parent as well.”
Brown discusses creating black identity through image and text
The Beam Classroom was overflowing on Tuesday night as students and faculty packed the seats to hear Kimberly Juanita Brown, Ph.D. speak. Brown’s talk, entitled “Afterimages of History: The Poetics of Photography in the Contemporary,” used photography and poetry to discuss the subjectivity of African American experiences over the past 60 years.
Brown featured photographs from black artists like Roy DeCarava and Carrie Mae Weems.
DeCarava captured the lives of African American men and women in the 1950s and 1960s—working, protesting for rights, mourning, enjoying the small moments. Weems’ work is more recent—from the 1990s and early 2000s—and focuses on the recognition of African Americans’ places in Louisiana history.
Brown matched these images with the words of poets of color. She believes the pairing of the words and imagery help to convey historical events and feelings of African Americans.
“Owing to a history of racial subjugation in the United States...the juxtaposition of imagery practiced by black artists in this country is also about the power of photography, whether it is a record of pain, violation, joy, or comfort,” Brown said in her talk on Tuesday evening. “Similarly, African American poetry is a catalogue of historical events.”
Many of DeCarava’s photographs were published in a 1955 book co-authored by Langston Hughes, “The Sweet Flypaper of Life.” This book captivated African Americans and became a “bible” to them, according to Brown.Brown’s own experience with this book is noteworthy. In her very-hard-to-find copy (originally from a library in Vermont), she noticed the word “discarded” stamped inside the front cover. She could not let that word go.“I hovered over the idea of this discarding,” she said in her talk. “It somehow brings together a myriad of concerns animating black poetic and photographic representations—remove, reject, toss out, refuse.”
Brown covers this issue as a lecturer in the Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University, though she will be leaving Harvard for Mount Holyoke College at the end of the academic year. She is also writing a book that will be published this fall.
“[The] book project...explores the cultural facility of dead black bodies [that appeared] on the cover of the New York Times in 1994,” said Brown.
Assistant Professor of Art History Dana Byrd was one of the proponents of bringing Brownto campus, with funding from the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and the Blythe Bickel Edwards Fund.
“It seemed nice to have someone who was trained in literature and in African American studies,” said Byrd. “[She] offer[ed] a slightly different method for working on photography and working at the intersection of the visual.”Byrd was thrilled by the large audience that attended the talk.
“There was a broad spectrum of students and faculty and people from the community, and that was really heartening,” said Byrd. “It suggested that people in this community and on this campus are really engaged with the arts and thinking deeply about visual things.”
Brown recognizes the less publicized but still incredibly worthy work of African Americans in the past sixty years.
“Poets and photographers mine the vast archive of black subjectivity,” Brown said. “[It] allow[s] the space to pause, to contemplate, to acknowledge and [to] engage in the spectacular presence of African American visual production.”
Miz Cracker talks about drag, dedication and demands
“It really has profoundly affected me. Learning to think about yourself as a person who can actually say no or demand things, you can’t undo that,” said Miz Cracker, a drag queen from Harlem, NY., who spoke Tuesday in Kresge. “That has probably saved my life.”
Miz Cracker covered her daily life and the complexities of gender and sexuality in her talk titled, “I Still Hate Your Personality, But I Like Your Hair.”
Miz Cracker began performing in 2011 when a new acquaintance suggested that she try drag. Though she had never considered it before, Miz Cracker fell in love with her work and found herself becoming more self confident.
Since her start in the drag world, she has quit her day job to focus on drag full time and to write for the Outward section of Slate.com. In her talk, she emphasized how much time and money is needed to be successful in drag.
“It takes a lot of time; it takes a lot of dedication,” Miz Cracker said. “Even a drag queen who does not care about her looks at all is pouring an immense amount of time and money into the business of drag.”
This dedication—manifested in Miz Cracker’s three to four hours per day of hair, makeup and outfit preparation—shows that there is more to drag than amusement and comedy.
“If you think it’s just a game or if you think it’s just for entertainment, you have to bear in mind that it is a huge commitment,” she said.
Christina Knight, a CFD postdoctoral fellow in the theater and dance department, said that the talk shed a different light on the lives of drag queens.
“If the only idea of drag you have comes from ‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race,’ then you’re probably missing a great deal about what it actually means to gay folks, queer folks, trans folks who go to those shows,” said Knight in a phone interview with the Orient.
Knight shares a mutual friend with Miz Cracker and it was her idea to bring her to campus. Knight was originally interested in having Miz Cracker speak to her class, American Queen: Drag in Contemporary Art Performance.
“I wanted her to come talk to my class because I wanted them to get a sense of what it’s like to actually perform drag, instead of just thinking about it theoretically,” said Knight.
Knight also hoped that Miz Cracker’s talk would create campus dialogue.
“I think it’s important and powerful and a conversation a lot of people on this campus are afraid of,” said Xanthe Demas ’15. “It’s really important to bring it here in such a good environment.”
“This is a way to get people talking about these issues [in a way] that’s more inviting than a lecture from an academic,” said Knight.
Others agreed that the setting allowed students to feel comfortable discussing complex issues.“There’s nothing better around a tough topic than having someone who says ‘Ask me anything, it won’t offend me.’ She totally owned the whole thing,” said Emma Patterson ’16.
“I would not be alive without [drag]—what a profound difference it made,” Miz Cracker said. “Anything that you love to do can save you.”
‘Facing Our Truth’: students perform short plays on race, inequity
Few things can compel a group of students to walk the sidewalks of Maine Street on a Thursday night in February. However “Facing Our Truth,” a show brought to campus by Bowdoin’s faculty, students and administration, proved to be an exception.
“Facing Our Truth” is a series of plays written in response to Trayvon Martin’s death and the acquittal of his shooter, George Zimmerman. Assistant Professor of Theater Abigail Killeen brought the show to campus.
“After the series of tragic events in late 2014, I, like many others, felt compelled to help make a space where people could talk and listen to each other,” wrote Killeen in an email to the Orient.
Under her direction, and with help from Associate Dean of Multicultural Student Programs Leana Amaez and Associate Professor of Education Doris Santoro, around two dozen students acted in and directed the six short plays that comprised the show.
Quinby House, Chase Barn, and the John Brown Russwurm African American Center hosted two plays each. The walk between locations provided a silent intermission for actors and audience members to reflect.
“Each short play offers such a different, and sometimes unusual, perspective,” wrote Killeen. “The audience will need time to digest what they’ve seen and heard.”
“The idea is to be silent walking from place to place as a sign of commemoration, respect, all of the above. In that silence, you just have to keep confronting the emotions,” said Amanda Spiller ’17, who directed and acted in two different parts.
These moments of introspection and contemplation were what Killeen felt was needed following the racially charged events of the past year. The format of short plays was particularly effective in conveying these ideas, she wrote.
“I believe in the theater’s power to offer alternative perspectives in a visceral way,” wrote Killeen. “The theater’s structured storytelling can aid us in considering the life experience of others and lead to important conversations.”
Spiller acted in “Color,” a play in which each cast member was given a color and had to work with the stereotypes associated with it. She played the color pink.
“It makes you look inside [yourself],” said Spiller. “You have to confront these really ugly feelings that are telling you that you make implicit stereotypes about people you see in everyday life because of the color of their skin.”
For now, Killeen does not have plans for more projects like “Facing Our Truth.” However, she is open to the possibility in the future.
“A theatrical voice isn’t always appropriate,” she said. “But when circumstances arise where it is, then yes, I want to generate theater that can serve as an agent of change in a positive way.”
The project was funded by The Bowdoin Student Government’s Good Ideas Fund, which supports student ideas that will benefit the Bowdoin community.
“It’s a pool of funding for students to make whatever visions they have about making and improving campus culture a reality,” said Justin Pearson ’17, BSG vice president for student affairs.According to Pearson, “Facing Our Truth” had many appealing aspects that fit with the fund’s goal of broadening the scope of campus culture.“It’s a show that improves discussion on our campus,” said Pearson. “It’s something new; it’s something different.”
“Even at Bowdoin, whether it’s in our classes or outside of [them], there’s an aspect of not facing our truths,” said Spiller. “I care about these issues, I care about starting dialogue, and there’s no better way to facilitate an epiphany than performing something.”
Dance concert puts eclectic spin on department showcase
This weekend, the tradition of the December Dance Concert continues as 20 students showcase their course work from the fall semester. Contributions from Bowdoin and Bates faculty accompany the student performances creating an exciting and diverse exhibition.
Students from Modern I, II and III: Repertory and Performance will perform in three different acts. Bates faculty members Carol Dilley and Rachel Boggia are visiting to perform a duet, and Chair of the Theater and Dance Department Paul Sarvis will show a short dance film. This performance showcases work from a variety of student experience levels.
“You’ll see some students who have never danced or performed ever and then other students who have more previous experience,” said Assistant Professor of Dance and producer of the show Charlotte Griffin.
The dances for the Modern I and II classes are choreographed by Senior Lecturer Gwyneth Jones. Griffin choreographed Modern III’s piece. Despite the professors’ obvious influence on the artistic direction of the shows, there is still collaboration from their students.
“Even when it’s specifically constructed [by faculty], it’s for that particular body, for that particular student, for that particular artist, so it’s always a collaboration, it’s always a conversation,” said Griffin.
Five of Griffin’s students perform in a piece titled “Threshold.”
“It’s an abstract work and has a range of emotional tones, but it’s very rhythmic and has a really strong kinetic spark,” she said. “It definitely makes you want to move.”
“Threshold” was the favorite piece of Fiona Iyer ’18 who saw the show Thursday night.
“While it was well rehearsed, it came across as spontaneous,” said Iyer.
In contrast to the student performances, Dilley and Boggia of the Bates dance faculty perform a duet. Griffin said she is excited to have them share their work, as they are artists from two different generations.
“[Dilley] is a mature artist who’s been running the dance program at Bates for some time, and [Boggia] is newer faculty,” said Griffin. “It’s really lovely seeing them work together.”
This collaboration between Bowdoin and Bates is part of a recent push to bring the dance departments of Bowdoin, Bates and Colby together.
“We’ve been building some bridges that have been really enriching for the program and for the students,” said Griffin.
Students and visiting artists have been traveling between the campuses, and Griffin felt that it was important to invite these two Bates professors to share their work. The performance by guest artists is a new addition to the show this year.
“They’re not just teachers, they’re also artists themselves, and I thought it would be nice to give them the opportunity to share work that way,” she said.
The final component of the show is the digital media that Sarvis will present. It is also a way for him to showcase his work as an artist to a community that sees him mainly as a professor.
“It’s nice to see the juxtaposition of live performance next to digitally mediated performance,” said Griffin. “I’m interested to see how the audience feels about [this added dimension].”
Iyer, for one, received it well.
“It was edge, moving and so fresh,” said Iyer.
“Sarvis’ piece really made the dance show dimensional and added depth.”
Last year, the December Dance Concert was performed in the dance studio in Robert H. and Blythe Bickel Edwards Center for Art and Dance. It was the first time the space was used for this show since the transformation of Edwards Art Center from an elementary school into Bowdoin’s arts facility. This year, the department decided Pickard Theater was a better space for the audience and the performers.
“We have a nice large house to accommodate the guests both from the campus and the community,” said Griffin.
In addition to the performance that was given last night, there will be two more performances on Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. in Pickard Theater. Tickets are free at the Smith Union information desk and at the door.
DJ of the Week: Eva Sibinga '17 and Nick Benson '17
How did Awkward Hour form?Nick Benson: Well, it was my idea last year. I was hitting on Eva, and I wanted an opportunity to spend an hour with her without other people around, so I forced her to do a radio show with me.Eva Sibinga: I was extremely nervous and I didn’t really want to speak. And I think the first day I probably said ten words. But after that it calmed down.
What’s behind the name Awkward Hour?NB: I’m awkward. Eva’s awkward. We’re both super weird.ES: We’re not that weird. It does a disservice to people who are actually really weird if we call ourselves very weird.NB: I’m weirdly straightforward.ES: I think the Awkward Hour is also nice because it gives us a lot of freedom. If you totally fuck up, you can just be like, “That was awkward!”
What do you guys do on the show?ES: Mostly we play music. We just have a little bit of conversation every few songs usually.NB: We fought for an hour today about whether or not I should wear a hair band. We play really sick music though. We’re probably really bad DJs, we’re probably really bad MCs, but we play great music.
What do you play on the show?NB: Literally everything.ES: Not literally everything. We don’t play contemporary country or contemporary pop. I’d say for the most part it’s classic rock, house, different forms of electronic music, low-key dubstep and soulful things like Ben Howard.NB: You can’t box us in like that. We’re a box without edges, an infinite box.
Do you plan the show each week?NB: That’s how we started, but now we just go in and do whatever comes to us.ES: There are some ongoing themes. And a joke about how I never wear colors.
Who’s your target audience?NB: My mom and dad.ES: Yeah, same.NB: My two friends who will actually listen to us. Crazy old people who live in the local area and call us up and say we are the heart and soul of America.ES: That did happen once.
Do you have a lot of callers?ES: We had two callers last year.NB: Two quite religious listeners.ES: And then some girl from his poetry class who said we were the best. That was pretty exciting.
Favorite moments on the show?ES: I can’t call to mind a date, but I remember leaving the studio feeling like, “Wow, that was an incredible show. We just put on an hour of really good music.”NB: Anytime someone texts me or tells me after that they were entertained for the whole hour is just a great time.
Favorite lyric?NB: I have a lot of favorite lyrics, but the one that’s coming to mind right now is in “American Girl” by Tom Petty when he says, “God it’s so painful that something that’s so close and still so far out of reach.” He says it really great, too, though. I can’t say it like Tom Petty. It’s a really great lyric.
Favorite artist?ES: Bach. He really informs the way that I listen to electronic music. It’s not reflected in the show though.
Favorite concert experience?ES: The National, June of my senior year of high school. It was at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn which is a pretty large, impersonal venue... But my friend and I were standing in the general admission, and Matt Berninger, who’s the lead singer, came down off the stage and walked right by us and we touched him and he reached out his hand. It was just exciting, and on top of that, I love their music.
Final thoughts for your audience?ES: When you’re chilling out, just put on WBOR and see what’s on. Even if you’re not listening for someone in particular, it’s really fun to just hear what people do on the radio.NB: If we have an audience, please text me. My number’s 207-449-9890. I’d really like to know that someone listens to our show.ES: You’re going to get no texts.NB: I’ll buy you a lot of food if you listen to my show every week.ES: We’re not begging though.NB: No, not at all.
Tune in to “Awkward Hour” with Sibinga and Benson every Monday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on WBOR 91.1 FM or stream the show online at wbor.org.
London professor discusses Jewish photography
For an hour on Wednesday night, the Visual Art Center’s Beam Classroom became home to the spirit of Helmut Gernsheim and his revolutionary approach to photography as an art.
Over 20 students, faculty and Brunswick residents attended “The Warburg Institute Presents ‘British Art in the Mediterranean’,” a talk given by Michael Berkowitz, professor of modern Jewish history at University College London. Berkowitz is an expert on Jewish photographers from the 1860s to the present.
Although Berkowitz has lived in London for the past 18 years, he hails from Rochester, New York. He is in the U.S. to attend a conference on Holocaust restitution at Boston University on Sunday. He also did research at Harvard University last weekend and will be speaking at Brown University next week.
Because of his proximity, “it was a golden opportunity to have him visit Bowdoin,” said Associate Professor of History Susan Tananbaum in an email to the Orient.
Berkowitz has an impressive resumé, including many grants from institutions around the world, four (soon to be five) books, five edited or co-edited books, and over 40 articles. He is one of the only scholars in the world who has committed his academic scholarship to documenting Jewish photography and investigating Gernsheim as a photographer.
“There is almost no memory of the fact that Jews were the photographers of Europe before the Holocaust,” said Berkowitz.
According to Berkowitz, the majority of photographers in Europe before World War II were Jewish.
“Photography wasn’t a very respectable trade in the beginning, and generally speaking, people wanted somebody else to do it for them,” said Berkowitz. “I think this is really the reason Jews started as photographers.”
While much of his talk focused on Gernsheim, who eventually settled in London after his escape from Germany, Berkowitz also engaged the audience on the subject of a photography exhibition that was staged during Gernsheim’s early years in London. That show, “British Art and the Mediterranean” (eventually a book), was organized to create a positive relationship with Italy in the early 1940s.
“What people considered British culture and the seeds of Englishness in large part developed from Mediterranean civilizations,” said Berkowitz.Some of the photographs in this collection came from Gernsheim.
Gernsheim, along with his older brother Walter, is most famous for his work as an art historian and art collector. The brothers became wealthy photographing Old Master drawings and selling them on a subscription basis in London.
Berkowitz, however, stressed that Gernsheim was also an amazing photographer, something for which he is not usually recognized.
“What he was doing was creating a new kind of art that the photograph of the architecture or of the work of art was a work of art itself,” said Berkowitz.
Gernsheim, when commissioned to take photos of St. Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Abbey, would instead photograph specific architectural details of the buildings. When photographing sculptures, he made it quite the operation, bringing in lighting crews and cleaning statues with water and a pail.
“Nobody had ever taken pictures of sculpture like this,” said Berkowitz.
Despite his interest in photography, Berkowitz has never considered himself a photographer. However, he does have it in his blood. In the late 1970s, he worked in the Eastman Kodak Factory in his hometown of Rochester, where he learned about film and cameras. Though Berkowitz had been using photographs as research material for years, a call in 2006 from a long-lost cousin led him to his more recent research.
“[I found out] my father’s grandfather was one of about 20 photographers to the [Russian] czar,” said Berkowitz.
Although Berkowitz is no longer on campus, his work is widely available, and his new book will be published at the end of the fall.
Bowdoin Art Society’s ‘340 Miles North’ transforms Ladd into gallery
Yesterday, Ladd House underwent a transformation into an art gallery. The normally bare walls are now lined with photographs and paintings, and the typically empty common rooms hold interactive exhibits and sculptures all part of the show “340 Miles North,” sponsored by the Bowdoin Art Society (BAS).
“The point of the show is to showcase the vibrancy of the [Bowdoin] arts scene to [the College] and greater community,” said Tom Rosenblatt ’16, co-director of the BAS.
The art was organized throughout the house by medium. The yellow dining room holds two-dimensional work and the fireplace room displays three-dimensional sculptures. There is an installation piece in the basement and the chapter room is repurposed as a multimedia showroom. Last night, there was an a cappella performance by the Longfellows at the opening of “340 Miles North”—a title that refers to Brunswick’s distance from New York City.
Many of the works are photographs—which were popular submissions because “everyone has a camera,” according to Emma Wheeler ’15, artistic director of the BAS.Around 35 artists submitted 120 pieces to this year’s show. The BAS tries to accept the majority of the work it receives.
“[If] this is something the campus would enjoy, [if] this is something that we think deserves to be displayed, it will be in the show,” said Sophia Cheng ’15, the curatorial director of the BAS.
Last year, the BAS hosted the same show, also over Family Weekend. The 2013 show featured a popular interactive installation made from red Solo cups. Guests were invited to add their own cups to the piece.
The club was founded last year to make art by Bowdoin students more accessible, and after a successful version of “340 Miles North” last year and the Delta Sigma/Delta Upsilon Art Show in Smith Union, it has started to find its footing on campus.
“We’ve gotten a lot better at producing [shows] and having a more seamless process,” said Rosenblatt.
This year’s show is similar to last year’s, but focuses more on the theme of image. This theme is manifest in the basement installation created in collaboration with the directorial board of the BAS and the Sculpture I class taught by Assistant Professor of Art Jackie Brown.The basement walls are coated in aluminum. Strings of yellow smiley face stress balls hang from the ceiling. The installation is meant to explore the nature of public image, the meaning of brands and to explore what creates authenticity in image.
The BAS is holding the show in Ladd House to draw as many visitors as possible.“One of our missions is trying to expand the culture of who has seen art on campus and to be further reaching in that sense,” said Wheeler. “We felt if it was in a [College House], more people would come through, perhaps just accidentally.”
Because of Ladd’s central location, Wheeler believes that it attracts a wider range of Bowdoin students outside of the first years and sophomores that usually frequent College Houses.
In addition to the art shows, BAS holds weekly meetings to discuss art and collaborates with other groups to create installations like the one in the Ladd basement.
The BAS has other major plans for the future. Members are working on a public art initiative to display art on campus and a Bowdoin Journal of Art for undergraduates across the nation to publish their scholarly art history writings.
For now, however, it seems that “340 Miles North” will remain a staple in the Society’s agenda, allowing students to appreciate the work of their peers.
“340 Miles North” will be open through Sunday of Parents Weekend in Ladd House.
Masque & Gown’s “Almost, Maine” provides glimpse into small-town love
The town of Almost, Maine sounds just like Brunswick—a tight-knit community of flannel-wearing, L.L. Bean-loving folks.
Almost is not actually a real town at all, but instead the setting for John Cariani’s play, “Almost, Maine.” Directed by Cordelia Orbach ’17, this Masque and Gown production tells tales of love and relationships in an environment not unlike that of Bowdoin.
Nineteen residents wrestle with their emotions through a series of nine vignettes set throughout the town: under the night sky, in the local bar, and even in a laundry room. Most acts are upbeat and charming, though there are a few mellower scenes.
“The whole play has a lot of themes that revolve around it being set in a really small Maine town and the fact that you will be around that community of people forever,” said cast member Axis Fuksman-Kumpa ’17, who herself is from a small town in Maine and plays Marci in the production.
The small-town Maine feel is present from the start. The opening scene features a couple bundled in gloves and jackets sitting on a snow-covered bench. Throughout, the play captures the idiosyncracies of Maine life that revolve around hospitality and isolation in very small communities.
Orbach, who had never before seen “Almost, Maine” but has read it many times, proposed staging the play because she felt Bowodin students would relate to its narratives.
“It’s about people who are dealing with the ins and outs of love [which] people on a college campus can relate to,” said Orbach. “There’s a little bit of love for everybody, so faculty members and Brunswick town residents [can also relate].”
Typically, only five actors rotate through the 19 different roles. However, Orbach wanted to involve more people to create the feel of a small town on and off set.
“It is an intense experience, but it’s not such a time commitment that people who are involved in other activities can’t also be part of it,” she said.
“We did a lot of ensemble building work...because it’s a town, I wanted them to feel like a town, like a community. The cast is really tight-knit,” she added.
The cast consisted mostly of first years and sophomores, with a few juniors and seniors. Because the play is divided into short vignettes, there are no “lead” roles. Instead, everyone has a personal, approximately ten-minute scene with only one or two other actors.
Some actors auditioned because they found the story appealing.
“I actually wasn’t intending to do any shows this semester because it was so busy,” said Dieu Ho ’15, who plays Marvalyn. “But it sounded interesting, so I just went for it.”
Luke Scheuer ’17, who plays Jimmy, voiced a similar opinion.
“I took a look at the script, and it just seemed like a really interesting play and something that I would want to do,” he said.
Much work also went into the directing side of the show. Stage manager Arhea Marshall ’15 and production manager Christina Moreland ’17 worked to carry out the creative vision of the play. Amy Spens ’15, this year’s technical director for Masque and Gown, worked over Fall Break to build the set.
“[Orbach] really wanted it to be a focus on the acting and these people as real people in Maine and what’s going on in their lives,” said Spens.
The sets were simple and minimal to allow the audience to absorb the scene.Many of the actors and crew have experience in theater at Bowdoin. Orbach has a history in both acting and directing.
Masque and Gown’s “Almost, Maine” will be performed Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25 at 7:30pm in Pickard Theater.
Tickets are $1 with a Bowdoin ID and $3 without.
Portrait of an artist: Stevie Lane '15
It’s hard to believe that simple loops of metal wire can be transformed into complex forms like hands and feet, but Stevie Lane ’15 makes it possible. She is exploring the twists and turns of wire sculpture through an independent study with Sculptor-in-Residence John Bisbee.
Lane is using this semester to make a self-portrait out of black annealed rebar wire, playing off a similar project that she enjoyed in Sculpture II.
“Bowdoin doesn’t have [a sculpture course] after Sculpture II, so I spoke with Bisbee and asked if I could do an independent study with him in wire, since that was something I really loved when I did it in Sculpture II,” said Lane.
“Bisbee was really encouraging in terms of what I made [for that assignment], so that was really my kind of reason for wanting to continue to explore my ability to articulate shapes with wire and work with realism instead of the abstract,” she said.
The personal power of a self-portrait interested Lane.
“Self-portraits are so much a part of the tradition of drawing...I can’t draw well, but I see this as my own interpretation of the self-portrait assignment—just that it’s three dimensional and my “graphite” is the wire itself!” she added in an email to the Orient.
Lane hopes that this self-portrait—set in heroic scale, which is about one and a half times the size of her own body—will ultimately be free-standing. However, making a large structures like a full-body self-portrait and having it support itself will be a challenging task.
Since she doesn’t weld or solder the wire, “There’s potential for [the sculpture] to be a lot weaker,” said Lane. “You also have to come up with creative ways to attach things.”
Therefore, her final project, which will go on display in the beginning of December, may not end up being a fully-formed figure but instead a series of body parts like hands. To Lane, the final product is not her only goal for the independent study.
“You really get to learn...about your material,” she said. “By narrowing your focus, you have to push yourself to dig deeper...and [to see] what comes out of that.”
Lane is more familiar with the “hot” connections created by glue or soldering than the type of work she is currently pushing herself to explore.
“Ever since I was really young…[my mom and I] used to put down newspaper and get hardware like nuts and bolts and s-hooks…I used to make these little animals by hot gluing hardware together,” she said.
Lane is a Government and Legal Studies major with an English minor and hasn’t taken any visual arts courses outside of sculpture. However, she said Bisbee is one of her favorite professors.
“This independent study is just an excuse to get to work closely with him,” she said.“He, I think, is somehow able to get everybody to produce the best work that they possibly could and I don’t even know how he does it,” said Lane.
While she has at times considered a career in art, it seems that sculpting and metal-working will remain a serious hobby.
“I don’t really know how far I could pursue art. I don’t even know how I’d begin, but it’s definitely something that I’m always going to do on the side, something I do do all the time when I’m at home,” she said.
Lane’s involvement on campus extends beyond her sculpture. She also hosts a radio show, co-leads the volunteer program Book Buddies where students work with ESL students at local schools, contributes to the literary magazine The Quill, and pole vaulted on the varsity track team up until this year. Next semester, she will be pursuing an independent study in creative writing, her other artistic interest.
New exhibitions at Museum explore mythical lovers Cupid and Psyche
The Bowdoin College Museum of Art will debut three new exhibitions at the end of September. “Hendrick Goltzius: Mythology and Truth” and “Weaving the Myth of Psyche: Baroque Tapestries from the Wadswo
The Bowdoin College Museum of Art will debut three new exhibitions at the end of September. “Hendrick Goltzius: Mythology and Truth” and “Weaving the Myth of Psyche: Baroque Tapestries from the Wadsworth Atheneum” open on September 27, and “Alison de Vere: Psyche and Eros” opens on September 30. The shows, which encompass a range of mediums and time periods, all relate to the ancient myth of Psyche and Cupid, the story of a relationship between a princess and a god.
“[It is] one of the most beautiful love stories ever written,” said the Curator of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art Joachim Homann. “It has always been recognized as such.”
“Hendrick Goltzius: Mythology and Truth” serves as an antechamber to the other two shows. Prints and a painting by the Dutch printmaker, publisher and painter line the walls. Goltzius, an active artist from the1580s to 1610s, used his art with varying levels of subtlety to comment on the political climate in Holland. At the time, the Dutch were fighting for independence from Spanish Habsburg rule in the Eighty Years War.
“His lines are what everybody’s raving about, his ways of creating depth,” said Homann.
“People who care about printmaking recognize Goltzius as a master, who has achieved things that other people would not have attempted,” said Homann.
Goltzius’ work is intricate and dense, but with a closer look, one can see the simple details that create the overall effect.
“It’s also equally amazing to just look into the details and understand how they were created just with black lines and white paper,” said Homann.
The idea for the show came in large part from a 2009 donation made (posthumously) by Charles Pendexter, whose collection included many Goltzius prints. These, in addition to pieces loaned from the Princeton Museum of Art in New Jersey and the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire, come together to form a compelling exhibition.At the Museum, the smaller room of Goltzius prints transitions into a large space with high ceilings and salmon-colored walls that display “Weaving the Myth of Psyche: Baroque Tapestries from the Wadsworth Atheneum.” These five French tapestries by the Flemish painter and designer Pieter Coecke van Aelst are incredibly rare and extremely valuable.
“I would imagine that it’s the first time in Maine anybody has exhibited a tapestry cycle of that significance,” said Homann. “It is really an opportunity to learn about a medium of art making that has never been featured in a show like this here.”
These works, based on Rafael’s tapestries, which were destroyed during the French Revolution for their provocative—and even pornographic—nature, were the ultimate sign of wealth. Some even include gold and silver thread.
“In the Renaissance and Baroque periods, the most important or most expensive furnishings were actually not paintings but tapestries,” said Homann. “We often forget that because they are so rare.”
Van Aelst’s tapestries have not just made an impact at Bowdoin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is featuring his work as well, and Homann is excited to learn from the Met’s show and to add to the understanding of the tapestries at Bowdoin. The curator of the show at the Met, Elizabeth Cleland, will also come to speak at Bowdoin on October 22.
The final new exhibit, “Alison de Vere: Psyche and Eros,” will provide a visual aspect to the story of Cupid and Psyche and help further complement the tapestries in the previous room. The 26-minute animated film from 1994—closely related to “The Golden Ass” by the Roman author Apuleius—was made by de Vere. She is also well-known for helping design the Yellow Submarine film for the Beatles in 1967.
These shows will allow Homann to share some of the Museum’s incredible holdings with the Bowdoin community and beyond. Some smaller pieces from Bowdoin’s permanent collection, including small vases, fragments, and figurines displaying Cupid and Psyche, will also be exhibited.
“Learning about [European art from the 16th and 17th centuries], I find that in the wintertime in Maine to contemplate and unravel the art of Goltzius and to immerse yourself in the tapestries is just one of the best ways of getting through winter,” said Homann.Homann also believes that these shows may interest local textile artists. They also have particular relevance for art history courses and a new Mediterranean studies cluster funded by the Mellon Foundation.
“I really feel strongly that the Bowdoin community in particular needs to know about the collection and the Goltzius prints and the other donations by Charles Pendexter,” said Homann.
“[They] are an amazing resource for all of us to discover and enjoy, so I want people to take advantage of that.”
“Hendrick Goltzius: Mythology and Truth” and “Weaving the Myth of Psyche: Baroque Tapestries from the Wadsworth Atheneum” will be shown until early March, and “Alison de Vere: Psyche and Eros” until January 4.
The two main exhibitions will be previewed at the Student Night at the Museum program on Friday, September 26 at 7 p.m.