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.

OU Museum of Art Now Hosting Three New Exhibitions

Fernand Léger: Fétes de la faim or Feast of Hunger lithograph on display in the Oglethorpe Museum of Art

Fernand Léger: Fétes de la faim or Feast of Hunger lithograph on display in the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art

Life-long learners, students and art lovers should be sure to check out the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art’s three new exhibitions, now on view through December 8, 2013:

The 20th Century Modern Masters exhibition features more than 80 works by three of the 20th century’s modernist leaders. The lithographs, etchings and aquatints on display were inspired by collaborations or interpretations of major literary works by post WWII writers and poets. Each work on display introduces visitors to rhythmic beauty in function and form and gives insight into the artist’s thought process concerning life and literature.

hugo13

An artist’s rendition of Victor Hugo.

The French political activist Victor Hugo is best known for his books Les Miserables and Notre Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame). His literature and discourse has since inspired many an artist to celebrate the life and abilities of this literary master. This exhibition is on display in the Center Gallery and features drawings, prints and sculptures by a variety of artists.Most notable among these artists are Jean-François Raffaëlli and Frederick Hendrik Kaemmerer, who were both students of Jean-Léon Gerôme.

Christmas comes early this year at OUMA with Haddon Sundblom’s Santa Paintings. Sundblom is responsible for the quintessential look of The Coca-Cola Company‘s seasonal Santa style, inspired by Clement Clarke Moore 1822 poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas“. His paintings of the jolly and plump Santa we know today were created between the 1930s and 1950s. Sundblom also is known for creating the “Quaker Man” for Quaker Oats and did work for Maxwell House, Colgate, Palmolive and Nabisco.

The Coca-Cola Company presents Haddon Sundblom's art.

Haddon Sundblom’s Santa, now on exhibit courtesy of The Coca-Cola Company.

A Wednesday Lecture Series also accompanies the exhibitions:

  • September 25, 7 p.m. “’Crommelynck’s Le Cocu Magnifique (The Magnificent Cuckold)’ illustrated by Picasso and Robert Andrew Parker,” by Dr. Jay Lutz, Professor of French, Oglethorpe University
  • October 2, 7 p.m. “Victor Hugo and French Romanticism” by Mr. John Daniel Tilford, Collections Manager, OU Museum of Art.
  • October 16, 7 p.m. “Léger, Le Corbusier, Italian Futurists, Machines, and the Dynamic City” by Dr. Jeffrey Collins, Assistant Professor of Art History, Oglethorpe University.
  • November 6, 7 p.m. “Léger’s Modernist Take on Rimbaud’s Illuminations” by Dr. Jay Lutz, Professor of French, Oglethorpe University.
  • November 20, 7 p.m. “Georges Braque Paintings and Prints” by Ms. Renée Maurer, Assistant Curator, The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.
  • December 4, 7 p.m. “Keeping Christmas: From Pagan to Puritan to Popular Culture” by Ms. Elizabeth Peterson, Director, OU Museum of Art.

View the first lecture,”The Right and Left Bank of Parisian Artists: The Bateau Lavoir and the Ruche,” by OU Professor of French Jay Lutz:

The 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; free admission for OUMA members, children under 12 and with a Petrel Pass. For more information, visit museum.oglethorpe.edu or call 404-364-8555.

OU Museum of Art Joins Blue Star Program, Offers Free Admission to Members of the Military & Their Families

Oglethorpe University Museum of Art has joined the ranks of Blue Star Museums, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and a record-breaking 2,000 museums across America.

The Blue Star Museums program provides free admission for the nation’s active duty military personnel, including National Guard and Reserve, and their families to any of the participating museums from Memorial Day (Monday, May 27, 2013) through Labor Day (Monday, September 2, 2013). These military families have an opportunity to enjoy the nation’s cultural heritage and, in some instances, to learn more about their new communities after completing a military move.

The Blue Star Families organization is a national, nonprofit network of military families from all ranks and services, including guard and reserve. Blue Star is dedicated to supporting, connecting and empowering military families. Working in concert with fellow nonprofits, community advocates, and public officials, they raise awareness of the challenges and strengths of military family life and work to make military life more sustainable.

“Oglethorpe University was named as one of the 2013 Top Military Friendly Schools and a Yellow Ribbon institution, with a focus on welcoming returning servicemen and women as they transition to civilian and academic life, “ said Elizabeth Peterson, director of the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. “Joining the ranks of Blue Star Museums to offer complimentary access to our museum is one small way in which we can continue to assist in that transition and to honor military personnel and their families.”

Oglethorpe has a long history of supporting members of the military and their families. Most recently, in fall 2012, Oglethorpe, together with the on-campus OU Veterans’ Club, devoted a week to honoring our veterans. “Our Country, Our Voices: Oglethorpe Honors Our Veterans” offered lectures, a clothing drive, and forums about such topics as what it means to be an American. OUMA hosted many of these events, with its then-exhibition “Burden of Proof: National Identity and the Legacy of War” as a fitting back drop.

Currently, the OU Museum of Art is exhibiting “Jiki to Hanga: Japanese Porcelain and Prints,” on view through August 25, 2013.

OU Museum of Art Now Exhibiting “Jiki to Hanga: Japanese Porcelain and Prints”

The Oglethorpe University Museum of Art is now exhibiting “Jiki to Hanga: Japanese Porcelain and Prints,” featuring 49 color woodcuts and more than 30 porcelain and earthenware objects. Twenty-eight woodcuts are by shin-hanga style master printmaker Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950). The exhibition runs through Sunday, August 25, 2013.

The Yoshida prints and several others are on loan, courtesy of Dr. and Mrs. Terry Taylor. The Japanese porcelain and earthenware displayed include 18th century Kakeimon ware and 19th century Imari vessels and other Japanese ephemera. These objects are part of a generous gift from Ms. Carrie Lee Jacobs Henderson, the granddaughter of esteemed former Oglethorpe University President Thornwell Jacobs.

Several objects from OUMA’s permanent collection are also on view, including a 14th century Amitabha Buddha of the Kamakura period and Utagawa Hiroshige prints given in memory of Dr. Ronald Carlisle, beloved OU professor. Haiku, bi-lingual essays and calligraphy by the children of Seigakuin Atlanta International School are exhibited in the center gallery.

Hiroshi Yoshida, Sending Boats, detail

“Jiki to Hanga is inspired by regional collectors who have a keen interest in supporting Oglethorpe University and arts and culture in the Atlanta metro area,” said Elizabeth Peterson, director of OU Museum of Art. “Furthermore, Oglethorpe offers a thriving Japanese program, has a growing international student population, and has a historical connection to Seigakuin Atlanta International School, which once resided on campus. This exhibition is timely, relevant and exciting.”

 

Mark your calendar for the lecture series scheduled in conjunction with the exhibition:

Wednesday, June 12, 7 p.m. “Ikebana – Blending Traditional and Modern Forms,” by Ms. Elaine Jo, Ichiyo Ikebana of Atlanta. A lecture and demonstration regarding the art of Ikebana.

Wednesday, June 19, 7 p.m. “The History of Collecting Japanese Art in Western Culture,” by Mr. John Daniel Tilford, Collections Manager, OU Museum of Art. A chronological study of Western collectors of Japanese art beginning in the mid 19th century.

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

Wednesday, June 26, 7 p.m. “The Genius of Hiroshi Yoshida,” by Dr. Robert Steen, Oglethorpe University Professor of Japanese Language and Literature. A lecture regarding Yoshida’s life, work, travel, and the interplay of language, culture and landscape imagery.

Wednesday, July 10, 7 p.m. “US/Japan Joint Educational Endeavor in Atlanta – Raising Global Citizens Who Are Peacemakers,” by Ms. Minako Oki Ahearn, Principal of the Seigakuin Atlanta International School. A lecture about the education of Japanese American children in Georgia.

Wednesday, July 17, 7 p.m. “History and Methods of Color Woodcut,” by Ms. Elizabeth Peterson, Director, OU Museum of Art. A lecture exploring the European and Asian origin of color woodcut and the techniques and process of printing in this traditional media.

Wednesday, July 24, 7 p.m. “Shibumi: Elegant Simplicity in Japanese Clay,” by Mr. Roderick A. Hardy, Owner, Hardy & Halpern Appraisers. A lecture regarding the Carrie Lee Jacobs Henderson Collection of Japanese porcelain.

The exhibition is supported by The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, the Japan Foundation (New York), and the Georgia Council for the Arts. OUMA is open Tuesday-Sunday. Admission: $5; free for OUMA members or with a Petrel Pass. More information: museum.oglethorpe.edu.

 

My Internship: Curating an Exhibit at the OU Museum of Art

Chris (center) pictured with other Oglethorpe arts students during a short-term trip to New York City, led by Professor Alan Loehle (in background).

I’m a senior at Oglethorpe, with a double major in history and art history. During the spring 2013 semester, I interned at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA) and had the opportunity to curate an exhibit that had a very special purpose.

You might not know that Oglethorpe’s art museum has a large permanent collection of precious and rare works of art that has been acquired over the years (and continues to grow). Not many universities can claim to have original works by artists such as Henri Matisse, Joan Miro or Salvador Dali. OUMA has also exhibited original artwork in exclusive exhibitions that are not shown anywhere else. Elizabeth Peterson, who became the museum’s director last summer, believes that the museum is a valuable and essential institution from which students of Oglethorpe should be able to benefit and learn. I’m one example of that.

Chris pictured with library staff member Toni Zimmerman during an exhibit opening reception for the OU community.

The exhibit that I had the chance to curate was dedicated to pieces of art from OUMA’s permanent collection that tied in neatly with two art classes offered this semester, printmaking and figure drawing. I included OUMA’s early sketches of figures from the estate of Delacroix that showed an artist’s analysis of human facial expressions. A beautiful chalk drawing of a nude by Renoir showed the rich color and detail a drawing can demonstrate. Sketches and prints of Parisian streets by Pierre Bonnard displayed how artists can find inspiration around them.

At Oglethorpe, you can study and have firsthand access to genuine artwork that could potentially serve as sources of inspiration for your own art or as a topic for a research paper. The museum also is the setting for concerts and educational lectures—and potential internships. The advantages that Oglethorpe’s museum provides both students and faculty are endless. I know I received an opportunity that I can’t imagine having anywhere else.

Read more about the Oglethorpe Art Department’s short-term trip to New York City to study art in February 2013 (pictured at top).