Latest Arts & Culture
The Oglethorpe University Museum of Art has opened the doors for its newest exhibition, “Burden of Proof: National Identity and the Legacy of War,” which explores the juxtaposition of the American and Vietnamese experience of the Vietnam War and its aftermath. The exhibit will run through December 9.
Artists Dinh Q. Lê, Sheila Pree Bright, Keisha Luce and Kirk Torregrossa are featured, as well as Northern Vietnamese propaganda posters from The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. The exhibition was inspired by the campus-wide reading of Tim O’Brien’s book The Things They Carried, a fictionalized account of the author’s time as an American soldier in Vietnam.
“The cultural, physical, and emotional dissonance explored by these artists raise many questions regarding the burden of war,” said Elizabeth Peterson, curator and director of the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, “It’s a legacy that crosses borders and is carried through generations.” Peterson joined the museum in August 2012.
Bright’s Young American series features photographs of young adults in various poses with the American flag. Bright wants the body language of the models and the different positions of the flag to raise questions about what it means to be an American in Generation Y. Each photo is named after the person photographed and is accompanied by a personal statement which reflects the person’s ideas about being American.
Lê’s large-scale photographic collages contrast photos of the Vietnam war with iconic Hollywood imagery to contrast the realities of war with the Western perspective of it. Lê was born in Ha-Tien, Vietnam, emigrated to Los Angeles at age 10, and now splits his time between America and Vietnam. His collages are made up of photos woven together using traditional Vietnamese techniques and are inspired by his own memories of the war, both real from his childhood in Vietnam and imagined, inspired by American war movies.
Luce’s sculpture series Sum & Parts depict the malformed bodies of Vietnamese people living with the effects of long-term exposure to Agent Orange, an herbicide used in the Vietnam War. In an interview with Vermont Public Radio, she says, “they are difficult bodies to look at. Part of what I was trying to do is to bring this type of body—the war body—into the public sphere.”
Torregrossa’s photographs help to achieve this goal by allowing viewers to see both the sculptures and the people that inspired them. They document every step of the two month long Sum & Parts journey, and Torregrossa says of his series, “my intent is to craft a story that illustrates not only the horrible long-term effects of chemical warfare, but with resiliency and bravery, how the people involved soldier on.”
This summer’s short term, for-credit trip to Italy made an enormous impact on the students who participated. Following up on the original post by Dr. Jeffrey Collins, we now hear from three of those students, in their own words. [Part II] [Part III]
I didn’t think after my transfer to Oglethorpe I would have time to go abroad. Thinking about leaving yet another place was stressful in itself and felt like too much jumping around. My summer was going to be a busy one; I needed to get a list of things done, not only school oriented, but for my entire future in general. Being able to go to Italy this summer AND get a class credit sounded too good to be true.
The journey I took to Florence and Rome, wasn’t just “good,” it was an almost perfect balance of seeing, experiencing and feeling. Being a studio art major, I had a seriously touching experience. I had just taken the Art and Culture Core class this past spring with Professor Loehle. The class had covered, of course, dozens of topics and art pieces; however, we only got to experience these sights through a screen. I got to go to Rome and Florence and experience first hand an overwhelming amount of what I learned in the classroom this past spring.
I stood before masterpieces, ruins, churches, sculptures, etc. feeling knowledgeable and well informed, inspired and humbled. It felt really good. I was enamored standing in front of Botticelli’s Primavera—truly blown away by the mere sight of something so beautiful and, for the first time, out of my textbook. Seeing the David, a staggering 17-feet tall, with every detail carved down to a seemingly blood pumping vein in his hand—I didn’t move on to the next room for over 30 minutes.
Dr. Collins and Professor Loehle supplemented all this awe by guiding and helping me understand what I was truly taking in and on so many different and new levels. We had on this trip discussions, critiques, debates—everything teachers can bring to the classroom we used too, but in museums, in front of ruins or standing before a statue. My learning experiences at Oglethorpe came full circle while I was in Italy, this appreciation never leaving my heart and mind while touring these beautiful cities.
I learned my away around Rome and Florence on so many different and exciting levels. I could guide you to the Pantheon from our hotel, on the way giving you its history, and I could have a confident discussion on Caravaggio’s The Calling of Saint Matthew and the revolutionary techniques he employed as an artist. I had a grasp of the culture along with an expanded mind. I was entirely out of my element, a visiting art student in a new country; however, I was constantly accompanied by a solid group of caring, ambitious and intelligent individuals, all there to fully experience Italy along with me. I got to form my own opinions, hear from other students in my group and absorb a new culture, all at the same time. I got the full ride on this trip, mind, body and soul. And to think I was getting a class credit the whole time was just the cherry on top.
It was an overall amazing, unforgettable two weeks of my life. I would recommend this trip to all students, especially the transfer students who are down on being unable to go to abroad during the school year! I am truly inspired and it feels awesome finding myself putting forth new efforts to keep this fire alive in my everyday motions. And so far, so good.
This summer’s short term, for-credit trip to Italy made an enormous impact on the students who participated. Following up on the original post by Dr. Jeffrey Collins, we now hear from three of those students, in their own words. [Part III] [Part IV]
When people ask me “how was Italy?” I simply respond with “amazing”. The fact is, though, it was more than that. It was life-changing. I learned so much, saw so much, and had such a fantastic time that telling it all to someone like a story is simply impossible—there’s too much to fit in.
The schedule included monuments, museums, gardens and segway tours, but the best times of the trip were unexpected. We’d be tired after a day of walking, or hungry for lunch, or too full of information to handle another bite and then suddenly, out of nowhere, there’d be magic.
From the Medici-offices-turned-art-museum Uffizi, to the towering bronze-doored Duomo, Florence is magical. Walking the cobblestone streets overlooking the Arno, where Leonardo DaVinci walked, staring through glass at Galileo’s right hand, strolling through the market where old, weathered men hand-sew buttery leather pouches like their families have done for centuries, everything about Florence is interesting, beautiful and amazing.
There are, of course, some standout moments. At Reginella’s, a family-owned restaurant Dr. Collins found that became “our favorite” the first night, my pizza was delivered in the shape of a heart! (I think red hair is a novelty in Italy, haha.) It doesn’t matter what age, what major, or what you’re expecting, seeing Michelangelo’s David in person will stop your heart. When I saw it, I understood. He’s alive in the marble, and as you walk around him his brow seems to furrow, his chest heaves, his eyes flicker. He looks so alive that I half-expected his fingers to twitch around his sling. In Art and Culture, I learned that when the David was first shown to the public, people were scared because they thought he was alive. Now that I’ve seen it in person, I finally understand. It’s the kind of lesson you can’t learn from a textbook.
I’ve never had a formal art class, but having Professor Loehle on the trip was better. He took the time to explain the beauty in art and how it relates to what I’m studying. He showed us the elegance of Caravaggio, helped me realize my love for Giambologna, and inspired me to find beauty everywhere—from the most heavily-guarded painting in the Uffizi, to the faces of the people in the Piazza Navona. He became part of the trip family, always helpful, always upbeat, always “just here to help.”
My favorite part of Florence was the church of Santa Croce. I thought, when I walked in, that it was going to be another church in the line of churches we saw, all amazing and beautiful. But it was so much more. There are marble tombs in the floors with bas reliefs of the people in them. There are winding hallways that go to rooms with floor to ceiling cabinets full of centuries-old books with illuminated lettering. I went through a little door that was slightly ajar and found a tiny room with stone water fountains in the shape of lion heads lining one wall and a door in the floor beside a porch that led into a tiny garden. I took pictures and snuck around until I realized that it was an employee-only area. Restricted sections make the best adventures, and Florence was a beautiful adventure.
But it’s Rome that has my heart. When we walked around Rome with Collins and Loehle, it was a constant surprise. Dr. Collins is a walking encyclopedia, and many times I’d look around to find people from guided tours had ditched their neon-shirted tour guide in favor of listening to him speak. He had a way of making every topic we covered interesting, funny, and memorable, even if it was something I would never have cared about before. Once, he stopped us in front of side street and said “I’ve got a surprise for you!” We walked into an unassuming church and then one by one fell silent as we looked up at the most amazing ceiling I have ever seen, with frescos that seem to jump off the ceilings at Sant’Ignazio.
At the Vatican, we were again struck mute by the towering, frescoed ceilings, the light filtering through the windows onto Michelangelo’s Pieta, and the sheer number of people, all silent, all staring upwards.
Then there were the random days. A small group of us took a side trip to the Catacombs of San Sebastiano, miles and miles of tunnels where people have been buried for centuries. Being underneath Rome, walking by tombs with frescoed ceilings and still-intact ancient pots of oil is like being inside of history. There’s graffiti on the walls dating back to the 3rd century (Peter was here, 1989. Peter was here, 1771. Pietr was here 900. Petri was here 256.) The church above the catacombs has floors made of some of the oldest marble in Rome. I stepped on snail fossils bigger than my hand that date back to the Cretaceous period (65 million years ago! WHAT???)
(On our last day in Rome, Professor Loehle, Adrienne Findley, and I worked out my plan to move to Italia. I’ve already picked my apartment. By—ahem— COMPLETELY unplanned, TOTALLY accidental coincidence, it’s on the same street as the best gelato in Rome. Yes, you can visit.)
In a word, it was amazing. I used that word a lot on the trip, but astonishing, fantastic, extraordinary, unbelievable, no word can really capture the feeling of being so utterly swept off your feet by beauty, by history, by culture, by Italy. In Florence, we lived like Italians. When we returned to Rome, we walked like natives. When I go back, it will feel like I’m home. This experience was more than I could have ever hoped for, and I can’t wait to study abroad again.
A group of Oglethorpe University students and professors recently returned from a short term, for credit academic study abroad trip to Florence and Rome, Italy. Here, Dr. Jeffrey Collins shares some of their life changing experiences, accompanied by photos courtesy of student Robert Findley.
I could not begin to describe this extraordinary trip, Oglethorpe’s tenth to Italy. Perfect May-like weather throughout, and we spent six hours a day in examining art, architecture, and sites, lecturing, and giving fabulous reports.
Think of our students standing in front of the Pantheon, walking Piazza Navona, walking through and discussing the art in the Vatican, analyzing the sculptures of Michelangelo, Bernini, many Baroque churches, paintings from Leonardo to Caravaggio, examining the ruins of the Roman forum. It was the best kind of education—they all agreed, and were passionately engaged—well, it is Italy, and art is everywhere.
In Florence, we explored and spoke and questioned the art in the Uffizi, the Piazza Signoria, studied the architecuture of Santa Maria Novella, the Santa Maria della Fiore, and a host of churches—Santa Croce of course—discovering how the Renaissance emerged here, how perspective was rediscovered, how Medici money and genius and artistic perfection and rediscovery of ancient works all fused and formed an era unmatched in western history.
Each day was a day of unparalleled discoveries for most of the students who, by the way, never stepped on a plane before. They learned some Italian, more than just ciao or bona serra, tasted some fine Italian brunellos and montepulcianos, ate prosciutto in the Tuscan noon up at Fiesole. I brought them to the best leather factory in all of Florence, where several bought the best leather purses designed for Grace Kelly. Days spent laughing, studying, dodging vespas, eating marvelous pastries—la dolce vita—walking for miles, building a remarkable community of scholars. As we talked in museums, onlookers from elsewhere would gather and listen and comment upon the student presentations. Two people from boring tour groups told us they wish they were with us.
Professor Alan Loehle and I tag teamed [this trip], and his commentaries and his artistic insights were sheer genius. We are indeed fortunate to have a Guggenheim artist at our university, and the students loved his perceptions and revelations about every painting. I cannot think of a better colleague to work with on these trips, as he rose to the occasion and served with me as teacher, scholar, father, counselor, friend, and a few times, positive disciplarian.
Our hotels were splendid, the food more so. Students cried during our final meal, and many of them, having learned Rome and Florence, went in small groups and explored on their own—they became confident, capable, and independent, exactly what we want, telling us in excited breath their views of Pozzo’s ceiling in Il Gesu or what they found in the hidden symbols of Botticelli’s Primavera. Their most memorable night, no doubt, was the opera at St. Mark’s—La Boheme. Our ladies all cried, the men tried to hold back the tears.
Adrienne Findley, the wife of Oglethorpe’s Board Chair Norm Findley, was absolutely remarkable—she was THE great model of energy, excitement, and joy for our our younger women on the trip, and she too served as a “Mom” and asked great questions that stirred and inspired our students. Everyone was sad the day she had to leave us. She will hold a reunion party for us all at her home soon. The students loved her.
It took some all-in-fun effort to get them focused on broken pediments and balustrades as we passed shop after designer shop—shoes, belts, crosses, icons, leather books, more shoes. Not one complaint though, and the transports were all perfectly timed. Soon, through some blogs, and pics and Facebooking, you will hear and see what they discovered.
I never saw so much community and friendship and cameras and support among students: they acted like an army when we needed them to be so, delivered reports like first-rate scholars when asked to do so, and brought each other home to the hotels each night, the guys guarding the ladies like knights, walking back with gelato in hand, the ladies with scarves and purses—they realized they too could be quite sophisticated, and were.
They all want to go to Greece now, and will; they all told us Oglethorpe was the best, they all will graduate and remember nights in the Palazzo Vecchio and the Tuscan dawns, the touch of refined marble, the rich expresso, and the light pouring upon their faces for eternal moments under the vast dome of the Vatican.
One student, Robert Findley, said it perfectly: “I cannot go back to what I was now, I see the world so differently. I have been blessed by beauty.”
To see more of Robert’s photos from the Italy study abroad trip, visit Oglethorpe’s Flickr photo page.
Cleo “Fifi” Sloan, a 2011 graduate of Oglethorpe, has been awarded a prestigious scholarship to attend Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London to study in the Masters of Arts in Art Business program, commencing in September 2013. The school is the educational wing of Sotheby’s, one of the world’s largest auctioneers of art and jewelry.
Sloan joined Oglethorpe’s Evening Degree Program (EDP) in 2008 as a communications major and planned to pursue a career in the field of integrative medicine. However, once she took her first art history course, she says, “I realized that a passion for art steadily pumped through my veins, and there was nothing that I could do to suppress it.” With some encouragement from her mentor, Dr. Jeffrey Collins, she developed an Individually Planned Major (IPM) in Art Business. She says that she soon found herself “being molded into a prime candidate” for the Master in Arts Program at Sotheby’s.
While at OU Sloan served as the David Willis Presidential Fellow and received Oglethorpe’s coveted “Art History Achievement Award” for two consecutive years. She also participated in several study abroad programs in Oxford, Paris and Italy. She graduated in 2011 as the first EDP student in Oglethorpe’s history to graduate Magna Cum Laude with an IPM in Art Business.
Sloan’s advice for other adults considering continuing their education is this: “Dream, and dream big! And when you open your eyes, know that there are others at Oglethorpe who are dreaming big for you.”
Earlier this month, Mrs. Constance Ashford Wright contacted me and asked if Oglethorpe would be interested in a donation of a historic Broadwood piano that had belonged to her late husband, Tate Wright, Jr. Though Mrs. Wright has no direct connection to Oglethorpe, she indicated that her grandfather had provided to Dr. Thornwell Jacobs the property upon which the campus is located. This family is the “Ashford” of nearby Ashford-Dunwoody Road.
Both Dr. Brent Runnels, our affiliate artist in piano, and I were immediately intrigued and excited to see and hear the instrument. John Broadwood & Sons of London has been a maker of fine harpsichords and pianos for almost 300 years, and is one of the most prestigious companies for such in the world. The instruments have been enjoyed by musicians such as Mozart, Haydn, Chopin, Beethoven and Liszt. The company’s use of metal string plates and a bolted iron frame provided more structural strength to the piano, along with additional power and volume—just one of the “firsts” credited to the Broadwood company that moved the evolution of the piano forward. The company holds the Royal Warrant as manufacturer of pianos to Queen Elizabeth II.
As soon as we saw and played the instrument, we knew we had a significant and historic find for Oglethorpe. Though out-of-tune, its action (keyboard mechanism) was in exceptionally good shape and its soundboard gave fleeting glimpses of its original, glorious tone. The entire piano with its exquisite rosewood case was in remarkably good condition. Handwritten mechanical notes on the bottom gives the impression that the piano was built around 1870 and perhaps earlier.
On Friday, May 18, the piano was moved from Mrs. Wright’s home to the east wing of the Weltner Library’s main floor. It is playable even as it is and we welcome those who wish to try it, as long as it does not disturb any library patrons. It is hoped that, in time, we may be able to rebuild the instrument so that its full, original, glorious sound may still be heard.
Next time you have a chance, stop by the Weltner Library to see this piece of history!
Dr. W. Irwin Ray is Director of Musical Activities at Oglethorpe University.
OU seniors would like to invite YOU to Oglethorpe University’s Senior Art Show. The four-day exhibition is curated by Professor Alan Loehle and comprised of works by graduating art majors and minors from Oglethorpe University.
Students Nicole Kang, Lauren Visconti, Lara Jacques, Sarah Duff, Kara Samples, Sean Lovett, Michaela Mayfield, Samantha Korotskin, Bianca Hernould, Hannah Goldman, Jessica Sundstrom, Leeane Eldredge, Katie Odell, and Ian Franklin will showcase some of their best works created during their time as undergraduates. A wide range of works in mediums, styles, and subjects will be part of the exhibit.
The show will run May 11 – 14, 2012 in the Talmage Room of the Emerson Student Center. An opening reception will be held on May 11, 2012, 7-9 p.m. Need more information? E-mail Nicole Kang at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The OU French Club planned a road trip to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday)—the first trip of its kind for the Francophone group. They immersed themselves in the culture, practicing their French language skills and visiting the French-speaking children at L’ecole Bilingue de la Nouvelle Orleans.
“We learned about the history of the Cajuns and how they were sent to Louisiana from Canada,” said Alexus Whilby, president of the OU French Club. “We learned a lot about the history of voodoo and the contrast between Creoles and Cajuns. We also enjoyed the New Orleans Museum of Art and the French exhibit gallery.” The club plans to make this an annual trip.
While the French Club celebrated in New Orleans, the others back on campus shared a prayer and a delicious spread in Hearst Hall, hosted by the Orthodox Student Union. The feast united students of many different backgrounds, beliefs and religions.
“Hearst Hall has never been as cozy as it was on Fat Tuesday this Lent season!” said student Lidia Awad. “Everyone gathered…to enjoy great company, wonderful food, and celebrate the spiritual journey they were about to embark on.”
Sophomore Awet Woldegebriel, president of the Orthodox Student Union, described what Lent meant to him, saying “the Lent season keeps me grounded. Fasting or giving something up—going above and beyond what you usually do—is a humbling sacrifice and this Lent, I am excited to be able to share my faith with my Oglethorpe family”.
“The lamb, pastries, and warm fire were exceptional,” said Awad. “But nothing filled the Great Hall more than the love and the joy of everyone holding hands around the table, saying grace and reflecting upon the blessings we had been given.”
It’s exciting when the Core curriculum and what Atlanta has to offer come together.
Last semester I took my Narratives of Self class to an exhibit sponsored by the Consulate of Japan. The exhibit was called Stand Strong Japan and was held at the Wimbish House in Midtown. It showcased the culture of Tohoku, the region that was hardest hit by the earthquake and tsunami. I was looking for a way for my students to connect with Japanese culture because they were writing an essay on Ran, an adaptation of King Lear by the director Akira Kurosawa. This exhibit provided the perfect opportunity for students to connect with the culture and it also allowed us to show our support for the people of Tohoku.
“I like studying Japanese culture,” said OU student Cayla Austin ’15. “I got to touch and feel authentic Samurai Gear and practice the bit of Japanese I learned in class.”
The highlight of the event was the introduction of the Soma Noma Oi (Soma Wild Horse Chase), one of Japan’s foremost festivals. Held every July in Soma and Haramachi on Fukushima Prefecture’s east coast, the festival features horseraces in full samurai regalia, a Bon Dance, a parade, a contest of sacred banners, and a horse chase where riders catch wild horses and then ride them bareback. In 2011, the festival, which has a history of more than 1,000 years, became a symbol of Tohoku’s resolve and recovery when the people of Soma and the surrounding area joined forces to hold the festival despite the devastation sustained by their town just four months prior.
Mr. Satoshi Tachibana of Soma City, one of only five people remaining in Japan with the skills and knowledge to create and restore the Heian Period (794 to 1185) yoroi armor used in the festival, came to Atlanta all the way from Soma to demonstrate his artform at the Tohoku exhibition. Two suits of authentic samurai armor, video, and photographs of several famous Tohoku festivals, including the Soma Noma Oi were also on display.
“This exhibit truly showed the nature of a culture that survived one of the worst storms in our lifetime,” said Heather Burgess ’15. “The ability for so many people to stand together and keep a cultural existence is inspiring.”
Dr. Robert Steen is Associate Professor of Japanese. He received his BA at Oberlin College and his MA and PhD at Cornell University.