Einstein Makes an Appearance at Oglethorpe

photo by Travis TaylorIn celebration of the 100th anniversary of our campus, Oglethorpe University has put one of its rare treasures on display: Albert Einstein’s handwritten manuscript, “The Experimental Confirmation of the General Theory of Relativity,” on view through April 30, 2015 in the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA).

The manuscript, penned in 1920, was written by Einstein by request from his colleague Robert Lawson, an English physicist. Lawson was in the process of translating Einstein’s 1917 work, “Relativity: the Special and General Theory” and asked Einstein to give him observational proof of general relativity for the 1920 English edition. The exact documents Einstein gave to Lawson are now being exhibited for a special few months, exclusively here on campus.

Thornwell Jacobs

Dr. Thornwell Jacobs, President of Oglethorpe University, 1915-1943

Oglethorpe came into possession of the documents in a unique way that spans back to its founding in 1835. Oglethorpe originally had its roots in Midway, a town near Milledgeville, Ga. Because of the Civil War, the school closed for a while. However, Thornwell Jacobs, a generous and well-educated Presbyterian minister, was determined to restore the school. He had grown up hearing stories about Oglethorpe from his grandfather, Ferdinand Jacobs, who had been a faculty member there, and it became his dream to someday reopen the school. A skilled fundraiser, Thornwell Jacobs raised enough money and interest to organize a Board of Trustees for the college by 1912. With land donated by the Silver Lake Park Company and the help of Atlanta architectural firm of Morgan Dillon and Downing, Oglethorpe University at last reopened in 1915 and welcomed 45 students in 1916. Serving as president of the university through 1943, Jacobs accomplished many things, including launching the Crypt of Civilization and establishing a medical school. Jacobs was a true Renaissance man with a talent for writing that led him to found and publish The Westminster Magazine. He will always be remembered for his detailed letters and amazing ability to positively influence others.

As for the Einstein manuscript, it was given to Oglethorpe University by alumna Nellie Jane Gaertner ’34 in 1982. She was the daughter of Herman Julius Gaertner, one of the first faculty members appointed when Jacobs re-opened Oglethorpe at its current Atlanta location in 1915. The manuscript had been retained by Lawson for some years before it was acquired by Herman Julius Gaertner, a professor of German and Mathematics. Oglethorpe is lucky to posses the manuscript as most of Einstein’s work now resides at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.

Jordan Michaels_Holly Bostick_John Tilford

Students Jordan K. Michels and Holly Bostick examine the manuscript with OUMA Collections Manager John Tilford.

OUMA Collections Manager John Tilford helped to illustrate the historical context of the manuscript’s creation, as well as the history of Einstein’s expansive archive. He relied on a number of rarely-seen images of Einstein and his colleagues, including personal secretary Helen Dukas and Professor Otto Nathan, both co-trustees of Einstein’s literary estate. According to John, Helen Dukas preserved Einstein’s papers for decades before they were given to Hebrew University after her death, and for this, scholars and historians owe her an enormous debt.

“Staff and faculty of Division III (Natural Sciences), OUMA, and the Philip Weltner Library, with the enthusiastic input and support of OU students, came together seamlessly to present the manuscript and a rich program of lectures, films, and other events,” says Elizabeth Peterson, director of OUMA. “We are grateful for a Georgia Humanities Council grant which supports these activities and thrilled to again be part of the Atlanta Science Festival.”

The Einstein exhibition has generated robust student involvement with interest from scholars of all disciplines and departments. Students from a variety of majors including physics, theatre, English, and philosophy came together to participate in a group reading of Einstein’s Dreams. Additionally, Oglethorpe University senior and physics major Antonio Mántica leads “A Tour through Time”, during the week of the Atlanta Science Festival. His presentation will explain the historical and current understandings of how time functions and how we can use that knowledge to inform our experience of it. Other events include three film screenings and discussions about Einstein-related movies, and an evening of astronomy with Fernbank Science Center astronomer April Whitt.

“The manuscript should be viewed in person to truly appreciate its uniqueness as each word, diagram and calculation, including a few corrections, were all penned by Einstein’s own hand,” says Tilford. “Anyone can read the transcribed text in print and digital formats but the power of the handwritten documents must be witnessed first hand.”

Ariana Feiner is a writer and a student at Oglethorpe University. She enjoys art history and recently published her first children’s book, Ariana Rose: A Story of Courage.
This online story was adapted from an assignment for her journalism class.

“STEALING BASE: Cuba at Bat” Explores Baseball, Culture, Politics and More

STEALING BASE: Cuba at Bat is a visual exploration of baseball through the varied perspectives of Cuban-born artists, and will be on view at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art through December 7, 2014.

Arlés del Rio2

Arlés del Rio, Untitled from the series Esperando que caigan las cosas del cielo or Deporte nacional (Hoping That Things Fall from the Sky or National Sport), 2012. Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection.

The exhibition, part of the Shelley and Donald Rubin Exhibition Series, features works by 16 established and emerging artists: Jesoviel Abstengo-Chaviano, Alejandro Aguilera, Carlos Cárdenas, Yunier Hernández Figueroa, Duniesky Martín, Frank Ernesto Martínez González, Bernardo Navarro Tomas, Juan Padrón, Douglas Pérez Castro, Arlés del Rio, Perfecto Romero, Reynerio Tamayo, José Angel Toirac, Harold Vázquez Ley, Villalvilla, and Quisqueya Henríquez.  Mr. Rubin is a 1956 alumnus of Oglethorpe University.

The exhibition is curated by Rachel Perera Weingeist, director and curator of The 8th Floor in New York, and Elizabeth Peterson, director of the OU Museum of Art, with an exhibition essay by Orlando Hernández, a Havana-based curator. The original exhibition concept was the result of a long collaboration between Weingeist and Hernández that culminated in the summer of 2013 at The 8th Floor Gallery in New York.

Baseball is today, without distinction of classes, age and sex,
the preferred diversion of all [Cubans].”
– El Sport (Havana), Sept. 2, 1886

The arrival of baseball in Cuba coincided with the emergence of the independence movement in 1868. The sport quickly became a collective emblem of national identity. A love for baseball connects Cubans across race, religion, politics and geography. Pop-flys, stolen bases, and home runs provide meaningful and accessible imagery for Cuban artists. Responding not only to the sport as national pastime, their work has further sought to convey larger complexities within Cuban society. Stealing Base presents the work of a diverse range of contemporary artists, living in Cuba and in the U.S., who have found potency in the imagery of the sport.

“Without question, baseball is a great generator of meanings,” writes Orlando Hernández in his exhibition essay. “The game can and should be used as a grand metaphor to express or to understand not only art but the very reality in which we live.”

“Baseball has played an important role in the impugning, critical, and revolutionary spirit that Cuban artists have demonstrated when faced with acts of dogmatism, official intolerance, and censorship,” Hernández concludes. “Thanks to these brave artists, we realize that the game is not over yet.”

A series of events celebrating baseball and Cuban culture will accompany the exhibition:

  • September 17, 7:00 p.m., “Art, Activism & Social Justice,” by Elizabeth Peterson, Director, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. Ms. Peterson who is also an adjunct professor for a CORE Art & Culture class at OU, will explore the use of art in propaganda and protest in both Cuba and elsewhere.
  • October 1, 7:00 p.m., “Ideas & Inspirations,” by Atlanta-based artist Alejandro Aguilera.  Mr. Aguilera is an Atlanta-based artist creating a special installation in Stealing Base.  He will talk about his personal connections to the island and how his memories play out in his art.
  • October 15, 7:00 p.m., “Baseball:  A Bridge for Reconciliation” by Hoji Silva Miret, a freelance consultant in leisure travel and tourism.  Mr. Miret immigrated to the U.S. recently and is living in New York City.  He will be talking about travel and tourism and U.S./Cuba relations.
  • October 22, 7:00 p.m., “From Peter Pan to Atlanta,” by Jorge Fernandez, Vice President, Global Commerce, Metro Atlanta Chamber. Mr. Fernandez came to the U.S. via Miami at the age of 10 through Operation Peter Pan.  He was a command pilot for the United States Air Force for 22 years, a Vice President for Delta Air Lines, and is now a Vice President for MAC.  He will discuss his personal story.
  • October 29, 7:00 p.m., “Snowplows in Havana: Irony in Cuban Art,” by Dr. Gail Gelburd, Professor of Art History, Eastern Connecticut State University. Dr. Gelburd curated Aijaco: Stirrings of the Cuban Soul. Her research projects focus on socio-political discourse, environmental issues, global perspectives and non-Eurocentricities.
  • November 5, 7:00 p.m., “Rundown between Spain and the USA: Cuban Independence and National Identity,” by Dr. Nicholas Maher, Associate Professor of History, Oglethorpe University. Dr. Maher will lecture about the late 19th century Cuban Independence Movement and the background to Cuban national identity in navigating a path between Spanish and U.S. cultures.

OUMA is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 12 noon – 5 p.m. General admission is $5 or free with a Petrel Pass and for OUMA members and children 12 and under.

Salvador Dalí, Mid Century Modern Exhibitions Headline at OU Museum of Art

This summer, the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art is presenting three concurrent exhibitions: MID CENTURY MODERN: Works on PaperSALVADOR DALÍ: Trilogy of Love, and KIMO MINTON: Jazz Abstractions, all on view through August 31.

“These exhibitions are inspired by the creative outpouring of art at mid 20th century, much of which was influenced by American jazz in its improvisational rhythm,” said OUMA Director Elizabeth Peterson. “Artists pulled narratives of dreamscape, religion, love, war, and other thematic motifs into a language of geometric and organic form, line, and color. This visual vocabulary could be combined or repeated like a musician playing variations on a theme.”

Joan Miró (1893-1983) The Lizzard with Golden Feathers

Joan Miró (1893-1983)
The Lizzard with Golden Feathers

MID CENTURY MODERN: Works on Paper features fine prints by American mid 20th century artists Alexander Calder, Helen Frankenthaler, Larry Rivers, Jim Dine, Adolph Gottlieb, and American composer/artist John Cage with Carl Sumsion are on loan from the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Emory University. Prints by Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, and others in the OUMA permanent collection will also be on view. These 1960s and ’70s works are a powerful representation of the Modernist, Surrealist, Abstract Expressionist movements in the U.S. and abroad. They also touch on the Color Field, Dada, and Kinetic art movements.

Salvador Dalí (1904–1989) The Prince of Love (The Hanged Man)

Salvador Dalí (1904–1989) The Prince of Love (The Hanged Man)

SALVADOR DALI: Trilogy of Love features a selection of large format lithographs by Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), including those in his Trilogy of Love series and his Retrospective Suite. Never one to embrace convention, this Spanish born giant of the Surrealist movement broke with fine print tradition producing hundreds of signed editions of his work. These prints are part of the OUMA permanent collection.

Kimo Minton (1950) Speak Riddles to Me

Kimo Minton (1950)
Speak Riddles to Me

KIMO MINTON: Jazz Abstractions presents a selection of color woodcuts, mixed media work, and sculpture by contemporary artist Kimo Minton (born 1950), courtesy of Atlanta’s TEW Galleries and the artist. Minton, whose work has been compared to that of American artist Stuart Davis (1892-1964) is pleased to embrace musical aesthetic viewers ascribe to his work. His free standing sculptures and bas relief wall pieces also bring to mind the work of one of the earliest Abstract artists Russian/French Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944).

Oglethorpe University Museum of Art is open Tuesday-Sunday, 12 noon to 5 p.m. and closed Mondays and university holidays. General admission is $5. OUMA members and children under 12 receive free admission. Parking is free. OUMA is located on the third floor of Lowry Hall.

OUMA is supported by the Georgia Council for the Arts and is a proud member of Blue Star Museums, offering free admission to members of the military and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day. OUMA is a member of the Southeastern Museums Conference, the American Alliance of Museums, and the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries. For more information, visit museum.oglethorpe.edu or call 404-364-8555.

“The Crossing Over of Art & Science”

asf-2-magentaThe Oglethorpe University Museum of Art opens two new exhibitions this weekend: OPTIC CHIASM: The Crossing Over of Art & Science, presented in partnership with the inaugural Atlanta Science Festival, and BLIND/SIGHT: Conversations with the Visually Inspired.

OPTIC CHIASM - Irene K. Miller, Blink Again, 2013, monotype collage, framed 36x22

Irene K. Miller, Blink Again, 2013

OPTIC CHIASM explores the art of vision and science of sight, and includes art by Irene K. Miller, Kenn Kotara, Allan Eddy, Marcia R. Cohen, and Lisa Solomon, contemporary artists working in a variety of media, all of whom are inspired, influenced, driven and focused by and about issues of vision. Also on exhibit are the results of research in vision and optics by scientists affiliated with area institutions, including the Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Center, Emory University, Georgia Health Sciences University, Georgia Regents University and Medical Center, and the Medical College of Georgia. Visitors also will have a chance to use a Camera Obscura and handheld pinhole cameras to learn more.

OPTIC CHIASM was organized by Nancy Lowe, director of Symbiosis Art + Science Alliance; Nicole Gerardo, assistant professor at Emory University, Department of Biology; and Elizabeth Peterson, director of OUMA.

Annie Maxwell, 60, blind from birth with no known cause. Photo by Billy Howard.

Annie Maxwell, 60, blind from birth with no known cause. Photo by Billy Howard.

BLIND/SIGHT, an exhibition created and organized by photographer Billy Howard and illustrator Laurie Shock, presents a collection of photographs of people with vision loss, a biography of each person including a description of their vision, and an interpretative illustration of what they see. This exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Center for the Visually Impaired and is made possible in part by CVI, VSA Arts Georgia, the Fulton County Arts Council, and Georgia Council for the Arts and the Grassroots Arts Program.

In partnership with the festival, OUMA will host three free events open to all:

  • Saturday, March 22, 12 noon-5 p.m. – Open House, with an introduction to the exhibition OPTIC CHIASM by the three co-curators at 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 26, 5:00-7:00 p.m. – Public Reception, with an introduction to the exhibition OPTIC CHIASM by the three co-curators
  • Wednesday, March 26, 7:00 p.m. – Following the public reception, two lectures will be presented: “Visions: A Look at Creativity and Disability” by Elizabeth Peterson, director of OUMA, followed by “Art-Science in America: Building Up STEAM” by Nancy Lowe, director of Symbiosis Art+Science Alliance

A Wednesday Lecture Series will complement the exhibitions.  Both exhibitions run through May 4, 2014.

OU Museum of Art: “An Academic Treasure Trove”

I have always loved Japanese art. So, when I learned that my Asian Politics class was attending the OU Museum of Art’s Japanese art exhibition as part of learning about Japanese history and culture—I freaked. Two things I love had come together: learning and art.

Yoshida's woodcut "Sending Boats" series especially stood out to Jacob Tadych '14 in Dr. Steen's Japanese Literature class. WHY?

Yoshida’s woodcut “Sending Boats” series especially stood out to me. The series of images depicts the life of traditional Japanese fishermen from the same perspective during different times of day.

Both my class, taught by Dr. Stephen Herschler, and Dr. Robert Steen’s Japanese  Literature class took full advantage of having the exhibition right here on our campus at the beginning of this semester. Jiki to Hanga: Japanese Porcelain and Prints helped our classes see art as a reflection of a culture and current events, and to explore how art is a means through which cultures can exchange ideas with one another.

“Learning is more effective when it is attached to the real world and becomes not just theoretical but experiential as well,” said Dr. Herschler. “It was an incredible opportunity…(and) a truly fabulous way for the Asian Politics class to start the semester, using art to learn about not just different cultures but also philosophy, international commerce, and politics as reflected in the techniques, materials, and aesthetics of specific artistic works.”

Porcelain detail: Artist unknown. Arita, Japan, late 17th century. Collection of Oglethorpe University. Gift of Carrie Lee Jacobs Henderson.

Porcelain detail: Artist unknown. Arita, Japan, late 17th century. Collection of Oglethorpe University. Gift of Carrie Lee Jacobs Henderson.

Some of the porcelain pieces on view, for example, showed how Western culture influenced Eastern culture. Traditional Japanese art forms are stoic and minimalistic, but that contrasted with the vibrant pieces created by the Japanese for Westerners to display in their Victorian era households.

The displayed works by master printmaker Hiroshi Yoshida gave students a snapshot of Japanese culture in transition from a feudalistic society to the current industrial power. His use of traditional Japanese woodcuts and the European oil and watercolor painting techniques shows the balancing act that resulted from the mash of cultural ideals following WWII. Yoshida’s works are traditional in their minimalism, but also very impactful in that the cultural transition is gently introduced to the viewer. Most prints in the exhibit showed very traditional scenes, like Mount Fuji and shrines or fishermen on sailboats throughout the day, while others showed the shops at night seeming to suggest the beginning of using electric lights by the intensity of the shadows and the use of Western techniques.

Dr. Steen’s class was studying post WWII Japanese literature, coinciding with the time period of the Yoshida prints. His class used the exhibit as context for discussing the cultural transitions in Japan at that time and the effects on the country’s literature. “Art tells stories and I have my students write about those stories,” said Dr. Steen, who uses the themes of memory, cultural identity and travel to relate the texts back to differences in perspective. “There are many ways to make connections to the ideas that we talk about in class, even if they aren’t directly related.”

Elizabeth Peterson, the director of the OU Museum of Art, is thrilled that the classes were able to use the exhibit to compliment their classroom curriculum. “This is precisely why universities have museums—as more than a lovely place to visit—it’s an academic treasure trove for students.”

Dr. Herschler's Asian Politics Class with Dr. Terry Taylor.

Dr. Herschler’s Asian Politics class pictured with Dr. Terry Taylor, who loaned the Yoshida woodcuts to OUMA for the exhibition. Dr. Taylor gave a lecture to the class about the dedication required by Yoshida to create the woodcuts—all of which came from a selected single piece of wood.