|Tuesday, April 11th|
Delaney Hanon, Whitman College
9:00 AM - 9:15 AM
"The Whitman Legend" was painted by Danish artist Kay Nielsen in the mid-20th century. Though the work was originally meant to hang in Penrose Library, it instead was installed outside the Office of the President in Memorial Hall. In 2007, the painting was taken down for restoration and moved to its current location in a classroom in Maxey West. Its glorified depiction of the missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman have made the painting a source of controversy. At the same time, the work continues to be an important historiographical artifact for a modern understanding of the Whitmans and their history. My presentation examines each part of the painting. I discuss the history that the painting intends to represent as well as how honorific depictions like this affected the way the Whitmans were remembered throughout the 20th century.
Maia Watkins, Whitman College
9:15 AM - 9:30 AM
The theory of the sublime describes an aestheticization of horror, a reconciliation of visceral and opposing themes, a marriage of the terrifying and the beautiful. Unlike other art historical theories, the sublime does not describe the manifesto of an artistic movement but rather a psychological tool that provokes a response in the spectator/reader/audience in the presence of the art. In describing a work as “sublime,” ones refers not only to a material art but also to an experience. Because the theory has been explored for centuries, my presentation provides a brief historiography of the theory and proceeds to investigate the appearance and use of the sublime in three contemporary visual narratives.
Alicia Burr, Whitman College
9:30 AM - 9:45 AM
My presentation focuses on the Sheehan Gallery’s recent exhibition, "Today Will Be Yesterday: A Ruth Fluno Retrospective." I consider the position of both spectator and artist in the gallery space, questioning how and when an artist’s work can be “timeless.” Through a discussion of display choices such as the retrospective format, use of wall text and inclusion of documentary footage, I examine how the exhibition encourages a psychoanalytic reading of Fluno through her work. I then suggest that a more productive mode for encouraging active viewer engagement with Fluno’s work might come from applying queer theory to its display. I ultimately demonstrate how examining exhibitionary techniques through different art historical theories illuminates the capacity for objects to continue living and changing within and between communities.
Philip Stefani, Whitman College
9:45 AM - 10:00 AM
The artist Jacob Hashimoto has recently enjoyed an increase in fame and critical attention accompanying his numerous site-specific permanent installations. Whitman College commissioned its own Hashimoto installation for Penrose Library in 2014 and came to fruition in 2016 with the completion of When Nothing Ends, Nothing Remains. This piece recalls aspects of Hashimoto’s traditional oeuvre, though it also departs from his signature aesthetic in significant ways that speak to his own career trajectory and the interests of Whitman College. In my presentation I use a Marxist frame and read the work of Walter Benjamin against the Hashimoto installation. I also consider the formal aspects of the sculpture and explore the ways in which this Hashimoto piece may reflect Whitman’s interest in the artist’s notoriety more than the demonstrated aesthetic concerns of the artist himself.
John Reed, Whitman College
10:00 AM - 10:15 AM
My presentation attempts a critical discussion about the new Jacob Hashimoto artwork in Penrose Library titled “When Nothing Ends, Nothing Remains.” As iinternational popularity increases for Hashimoto, more businesses (including Whitman) are asking the artist for permanent art pieces to decorate their facilities. However, Hashimoto’s signature kites are mostly made of ephemeral materials such as rice paper, bamboo and string. To meet the requirements of permanent installations, Hashimoto has begun using resin, aluminum and stainless steel instead of traditional kite-making materials. I argue that this shift from functional kites to durable "kite-like" objects undermines the meaning Hashimoto associates with the kites and the process of kite-making, and thus signifies his shift from artist to businessman. Hashimoto’s career trajectory mirrors that of other internationally famous artists whose art is initially imbued with personal meaning but, with success, becomes an aesthetic brand to be flexibly deployed in the art market.