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.

Heifer International and Stormy Petrels Unite

Heifer InternationalLater this week, Oglethorpe University will be the first college campus to host the annual meeting of Heifer International, a nonprofit focused on “helping others help themselves.” The Heifer Sustainability Summit will be held on Friday and Saturday, October 12-13. It will showcase leaders in the field, and showcase Oglethorpe’s growing involvement in Heifer’s mission.

The idea behind Heifer International is simple: rather than raising money and donating it to the needy, Heifer uses raised funds to buy and donate livestock (cows,  chickens,  sheep, etc.) to  groups of people in need to help to increase their self-sustainability. Not only can they rely on the animals for renewable resources like wool, eggs or milk, but when the Heifer-gifted animal reproduces, the  resulting livestock provides even more possibility for income.  The self-sufficiency people gain from having their own source of income also helps to improve quality of  life. Suddenly, a family can go from surviving to thriving; a village can go from impoverished to self-reliant. The independence that comes with a Heifer gift is often even more valuable than the gift itself.  Heifer operates in more than 50 countries and has been a driving force against poverty worldwide since 1944.

The summit will focus on the needs of a world stricken by hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation, and Heifer’s current and future plans to help. Special guest speakers will include National Center for Civil and Human Rights CEO Doug Shipman, Heifer International President and CEO Pierre Ferrari, and Oglethorpe University’s own First Lady, Betty Londergan, the wife of Oglethorpe’s President Schall.

Betty and children in a Heifer-assisted country

Heifer International has gained quite a following at Oglethorpe, due in part to  Londergan’s involvement with the nonprofit. She is on a mission to showcase the benefits of Heifer’s work through Heifer 12×12, a blog project launched by Heifer International, which is taking Londergan to 12 countries in 12 months. Since January, she’s traveled to 11 Heifer-assisted countries, including Uganda, Haiti and Rwanda, and has shared her experiences through blogs and photography.

Heifer 12x12

Betty Londergan's blog highlights Heifer's accomplishments around the world

Thirty of Londergan’s photos will be on exhibit in Oglethorpe’s Lowry Hall in honor of National Photography month. The exhibit, titled “Unforgettable Faces,” will debut during the Summit’s opening dinner reception on Friday, October 12, at 7:00 p.m. in the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art and remain open through December 9, 2012. The photographs will be available for purchase to benefit Heifer International.

But, Londergan isn’t the only Stormy Petrel hoping to make a difference through Heifer. Sophomore Ruwa Romman and a small group of OU students were inspired by Londergan’s involvement with Heifer and decided to get active. They are starting the OU Heifer Club, the first on a college or university campus in the Southeast.

“Oglethorpe’s a good place to have a grassroots initiative [like Heifer],” said Romman. “They focus on self-sustainability, on passing on the gift… We hope to get a movement going. We can’t donate huge sums of money, but if we can donate $10 for chickens and help send someone’s kid to school, that’s still huge. It’s all about giving back.”

The OU Heifer Club will officially launch during the Heifer Sustainability Summit.

“Mandalas by the Patients of Carl Jung” Exhibit at Oglethorpe University Museum

A new exhibit opens at the OU Museum of Art on February 5, 2012. “The Secret Round: Mandalas by the Patients of Carl Jung” features 40 original mandalas created by the famous Swiss psychoanalyst’s patients during their treatment between 1926 and 1945. This first ever exhibit is courtesy of the C. G. Jung Institute in Switzerland.  

Mandalas were used during therapy to help patients express both the conscious and unconscious. Included in the exhibit is a handmade book containing one patient’s dream descriptions and drawings, hailed as the feminine version of Jung’s famous The Red Book.

The exhibit is accompanied by a series of guest lectures, presented in partnership with the C.G. Jung Society of Atlanta, and featuring top Jungian analysts. Each lecture will unveil a different aspect of the mystery that is the mandala.

Curator Vicente de Moura, archivist at the C.G. Jung Institute.

The Public Opening will take place on Sunday, February 5, 12 noon – 5 p.m.  A special lecture by exhibit curator Vicente de Moura, C.G. Jung Institute archivist and Jungian analyst, will start at 3:00 p.m.  As always, OU students, staff and faculty have the amazing opportunity to visit the exhibit for free with a Petrel Pass. The exhibit will run through May 6, 2012.

Join us and immerse yourself in the inner world of mandalas!

Commemorating the Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Sina Nitzsche, Visiting Assistant Professor of German

The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989 was an event of epochal significance. It not only changed the existing world order, it also had a deep impact on the people who lived in East Germany. Tonight, Oglethorpe students and others will have the opportunity to hear an eye-witness account of the events that changed Germany, Europe, and the world.

Sina Nitzsche, visiting assistant professor of German, and Tamás Novák, who were both children in the GDR and adolescents in the unified Germany, will share their personal experiences about the cultural aftermath of 1989.

“It is important to understand the significance of what happened and make the connection between history books and today,” said Nitzsche. “We would like to share our personal experiences, engage in dialogue—and also enjoy a fine selection of German food.”

The evening starts off with a selection of German food at 6:00 p.m., followed by a viewing of the award-winning film Goodbye, Lenin! (2003), and a Q&A discussion with Nitzsche and Novak. The event will take place tonight, November 9, in the Skylight Gallery of the OU Museum of Art in the Philip Weltner Library. All are welcome to attend this special event.

OU Museum Scholarship Winner Takes Photography to the National Level

High schooler Sara Endrias is the picture of artistic accomplishment. After receiving a scholarship from the OU Museum of Art to attend one of its summer photography programs, Sara went on to earn accolades for her work at both the local and regional Boys & Girls Clubs of America Imagemakers Photography Competition. And now, she’s progressing to the national competition.

While at Oglethorpe’s program, Sara learned alternative process photography, and spent the summer exploring different types of imaging, including photograms, the kind of photograph she entered in the contest. Her creation, titled “Flaming Pitcher of Destiny,” was announced as the Southeast Regional winner in the 16-18-year-old Alternative Process category.

Sara is a 4-year member of the Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club, one of Oglethorpe’s neighbors.  Because of her excellent work, Sara will receive a certificate of merit from the president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. If selected as a national winner, her photograph will be displayed in the Imagemakers National Photography Contest exhibit and she’ll receive a Boys & Girls Clubs of America award.

Sara's winning entry: A photogram is made without a camera, but combines light and photosensitive material to create an image.

Do you know of another young photographer who might want to try out the OU Museum of Art’s photography class? The next one starts soon — on June 27th!  Find out how to register here.