The Humanities Project Events for January 2008
For two centuries, there have been quilt makers who pushed the boundaries of tradition and functionality to create works of art for both use and display that were experimental and innovative for their time.
This exhibition was organized by the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In Rochester, it is underwritten by Lynne Lovejoy.
Michael James is Ardis James Professor in the Department of Textiles, Clothing and Design at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, where he teaches courses in textile design and quilt studies, and is a Faculty Fellow of the International Quilt Study Center.
James earned his MFA degree in Painting and Printmaking from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1973, and his BFA in Painting from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, which in 1992 conferred on him an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts for his work in the area of studio quilt practice. A Fellow of the American Craft Council, James's work is included in numerous collections, including the International Quilt Study Center, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Mint Museum, the Indianapolis Art Museum, the Racine Art Museum, and the Newark Museum. He is a recipient of several NEA Visual Artist Fellowships. His work is the subject of the monograph Michael James Studio Quilts published in 1995 in Switzerland. He has written and lectured widely and led workshops on quilt design throughout North America, Europe and Japan. As a male quilt artist he is unusual; his graphically bold art quilts are an excellent complement to the historic quilts in Wild By Design.
This illustrated talk will provide a brief overview of the development of James's work in quilts over the last thirty five years, but will concentrate on his work since 2002, when he turned to digital technology to create the fabrics that he now uses to construct his surfaces. James will focus on the conceptual framework for the work and the ideas that have driven his most recent series. He will also consider the nature of the studio quilt as an alternative to the traditional model.
Michael James' lecture is co-sponsored by the Memorial Art Gallery, the Department of Art and Art History, and the graduate program in Visual and Cultural Studies. It is free with Gallery admission
About the Talk: Dr. Steven Kurtz, founder of the internationally exhibited art and theater group Critical Art Ensemble, will explore factors that severely impede critical interventions in and between the fields of art, science, and politics. Using the work of Critical Art Ensemble as a grounding focus, he will examine issues such as the privatization of knowledge and the militarization of scientific and medical institutions, and will show that if these issues are used as framing devices for cultural interventionist projects, they beckon a broad variety of disciplinary agencies. Over the past two decades, Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) has encountered nearly all of them. Police, FBI, Department of Justice prosecutors, corporate lawyers, politicians, church officials, and government bureaucrats have attacked, threatened, or denounced CAE for acting against the authoritarian tendencies of Western societies. This lecture chronicles the reasons why CAE's work has elicited such responses, and how the violence against cultural resistance has escalated and intensified over the past five years.
Critical Art Ensemble is a collective of tactical media practitioners of various specializations, including computer graphics and web design, wetware, film/video, photography, text art, book art, and performance, dedicated to exploring the intersections between art, technology, political activism, and critical theory. The collective has performed and produced a wide variety of projects for an international audience at diverse venues ranging from the street, to the museum, to the Internet, and has been invited to exhibit and perform in many of the world's leading cultural institutions—including the Whitney Museum and the New Museum in NYC; The Corcoran Museum in Washington D.C.; The ICA, London; The MCA, Chicago; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; the London Museum of Natural History; and many more. CAE's work has been covered by most major art journals, including Artforum, Kunstforum, and The Drama Review, which dedicated a special section to CAE in 2000. CAE has written six books, and its writings have been translated into 18 languages.
This event is free and open to the public. A reception with refreshments will follow the talk. For more information: Program in Visual and Cultural Studies: 585-275-9249 | CAE Defense Fund: , Tel. 716-359-3061
This event is Co-sponsored by the University of Rochester Department of Political Science Harrott Constitutional Fund, the Graduate Organizing Group (GOG), the Program in Visual and Cultural Studies, the Department of Art and Art History, the Film and Media Studies Program, the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, the Department of Anthropology, the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House; Endorsed by the Rochester Contemporary Art Center and UR Students for Social Justice (list in progress).
About the Film: Strange Culture (2007, 75 min), selected to open both the 2007 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival and the documentary section of the Berlin International Film Festival, is directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson and features Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton, Chronicles of Narnia), Peter Coyote (E.T., Erin Brochovich), Thomas Jay Ryan (Henry Fool, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), and Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, My Dinner with Andre), with an original score by The Residents.
The film chronicles Dr. Steven Kurtz's surreal prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice. In May 2004 Kurtz and his wife Hope were preparing an art exhibit examining GM agriculture for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, when Hope died of heart failure. Police who responded to Kurtz's distressed 911 call deemed the couple's art suspicious and notified the FBI. Within hours the artist found himself detained as a suspected "bioterrorist," as dozens of federal agents in Hazmat suits raided his home, seizing art materials, computers, books, manuscripts, his cat, and even his wife's body. Nearly four years later, Kurtz awaits a trial date on charges of "mail fraud" -- charges which carry the possibility of a 20-year jail sentence under the USA PATRIOT Act. Since the ongoing nature of the case prevents Dr. Kurtz from discussing its details, Hershman Leeson has enlisted actors to dramatize parts of the story, skillfully interweaving dialogue with news footage, animation, interviews, testimonials, and footage of Kurtz himself.
Watch the Trailer
Judith Weisenfeld is Professor of Religion, in the Department of Religion, at Princeton University. She earned the Ph.D. in Religion from Princeton in 1992 and taught at Barnard College and Vassar before moving to Princeton in 2007. A specialist in 20th Century African-American religious history, she has published widely on African American women and religion, religion and American film, and urban religion. She is the author of African American Women and Christian Activism: New York's Black YWCA, 1905-1945 (Harvard University Press, 1997), the co-editor, with Richard Newman, of This Far By Faith: Readings in African American Women's Religious Biography (Routledge, 1996), and a co-author of The History of the Riverside Church in the City of New York (New York University Press, 2004).
Professor Weisenfeld's most recent work, Hollywood Be Thy Name African American Religion in American Film, 1929-1949 (University of California Press, 2007), is the first book to examine how the movies constructed images of African American religion. Her current project is entitled Eva Jessye's Spirituals: African American Religion, Culture and Music in Motion, 1870-1940.
Janet Catherine Berlo is Professor of Art History and Visual and Cultural Studies, in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Rochester. The co-curator of Wild By Design, she is also a quilter. Her research interests include American vernacular visual culture, and Native American art.