Department of Art and Art History Faculty

Read an excerpt from Ann Reynolds’ essay for the catalog Joan Jonas: They Come to Us without a Word

Sun. August 30, 2015

two women look up at painting
Ann Reynolds and Joan Jonas at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice, looking at Jacopo Tinotetto’s Massacre of the Innocents of 1582-87. Image courtesy of Ann Reynolds.

Professor Ann Reynolds wrote the main essay for the catalog accompanying Joan Jonas’ exhibition at the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The essay commission comes after more than a decade of her work with Jonas and the following is an excerpt from her essay, How the Box Contains Us.


Brilliantly lit by a world located outside the primary interior space depicted in the painting, this rectangle competes for attention with other, equally well-lit portions of the foreground and middle ground and seems to suggest not only another space within the painting or alter¬nate interpretations of the internal logic of the painting’s space, but also, perhaps, opportunities to consider Tintoretto’s painting in space. One might imagine Tintoretto’s bright rectangle as a discrete picture of an alternate event, time, or place, hovering like an apparition in an ambiguous relation to the space occupied by the biblical story of the Massacre of the Innocents. Or it could be a mirror reflecting a space beyond the physical confines of the painting. In any sense, Tintoretto’s painting may be experienced as a more open, fluctuating palimpsest of spaces that don’t always coalesce even as they coexist within a shared set of physical limit terms: the length and width of the canvas and the three dimensions of the room in the Scuola Grande.

It is quite a simple gesture, one that Joan Jonas often makes in her performances. She stands in front of a large, prerecorded video pro¬jected onto a wall or screen and holds up a piece of white paper or cloth, sometimes shifting it from side to side, tipping it slightly left to right, then right to left, shaking it, or using it to track or momentarily frame the movements of something in the projection behind her. Some¬times she makes drawings on the paper or holds it close to her body and traces her body’s contours onto it with a marker or crayon. The visual effects are subtle. Just a slight change in the distance or angle between the projector and the surface of the projection brings the por¬tion of the video image Jonas is capturing a bit closer and isolates, frames, and magnifies it slightly, in or out of focus, transforming the rest of the projected image into background. If the paper she holds up is black, Jonas’s gesture produces the opposite effect; it almost obliter¬ates part of the projected image and substitutes a black void or a white-on-black drawing for this temporarily “lost” portion.

During these actions, Jonas wears simple white or light-colored clothing, across which the projected video image also visibly extends, simultaneously absorbing her into it as she extends parts of it, her drawings, and herself outward. Through her gestures and these visual transformations, she subtly disrupts the internal logic of the prerecorded, projected image’s space and its figure/ground relationships by weaving them into her space and into the present, a space and time she also shares with her audience. These spatial effects are quite fleeting, as eventually Jonas drops the paper or cloth to the floor and moves on to something else, but during those moments, she is self-consciously challenging the viewer’s reflexive relation to viewing images of space in a manner that is similar to the potential experiences that Tintoretto’s paintings allow.

A few days after visiting the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Jonas asks: “Why do we make these spaces?”


Ann Reynolds, “How the Box Contains Us,” Joan Jonas: They Come to Us Without a Word. United Sates Pavilion, 56th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia. Edited by Jane Farver. Cambridge: MIT List Visual Arts Center, New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co. and Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2015, 18-27.

See how (and where) faculty spend their summer (part 2)

Thu. July 30, 2015


man seated at table being filmed by crew
Image courtesy of John Clarke.

Last month, Dr. John Clarke closed a successful four-week season of the Oplontis Project, repacked his bags, and returned to the U.S. as a lecturer for the 2015 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He engaged the Institute theme, Advanced Challenges in Theory and Practice in 3D Modeling of Cultural Heritage Sites, by presenting the interactive 3D model of the Roman Villa of Poppaea, a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site. The 25 participants, chosen from university and college teachers worldwide, took part in daylong activities under Clarke’s guidance, including hands-on sessions at UMass Amherst’s new Integrative Learning Center. Clarke returned to Italy to continue work on Leisure and Luxury in the Age of Nero: The Villas of Oplontis near Pompeii. This exhibition showcases eleven years of research at Oplontis and includes newly-rediscovered and restored wall paintings, monumental sculpture, jewelry, and coins. The exhibition will open at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan in February 2016 before traveling to Montana State University and Smith College.

red chair with white table in library
Image courtesy of Carma Gorman.

This July, Dr. Carma Gorman served as project faculty for a four-week National Endowment for the Humanities summer institute titled Teaching the History of Modern Design: The Canon and Beyond held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gorman presented her recent research on the impact of U.S. intellectual property law on mid-century modern design; led each Monday morning's opening discussions on the institute's themes of taste, gender, and globalism; advised participants on their group projects; accompanied the group on field trips to regional museums and archives; slept on a bracingly firm vinyl-encased dormitory mattress; and spent weekends in the "silent room" of Drexel's Hagerty Library (pictured) working on her book about the legal constraints that have shaped modern American industrial design.

detail of hand carving wood block
Image courtesy of Tim High.

Tim High continues working on a new hand-reduction screen print for an invitational exhibition entitled Anachronistic to open next Fall in Boulder, Colorado that will travel to New Zealand. He will resume working on a 22 x 30 inches Tin Toy Series color edition screen-print begun last year. High continues work on a woodcut print that will be included in a publication (Square Halo Publishers, Inc.). In August, High will be preparing for a solo show in late September at Southside Gallery in Oxford, Massachusetts. In correlation with the opening in late September, High will also conduct a workshop in silkscreen mono-printing at the University of Mississippi.

two women sitting at table with artefacts
Image courtesy of Astrid Runggaldier.

Astrid Runggaldier travels to Belize this summer. Runggaldier works on a Maya project where she has served as lab director for the past 4 years and is now also excavations director. She oversees lab operations recording objects from Preclassic (400 BC) to Colonial (1860s) that include Maya, Spanish, British, and American Confederate artifacts. While in Belize, Runggaldier will complete field reconnaissance trips to locate a lost confederate site.

office filled with books and library cart of books
Image courtesy of Nassos Papalexandrou.

Nassos Papalexandrou participated in a conference organized by the Swedish Archaeological Institute in Athens, Greece entitled Stuff of the Gods: The Material Aspects of Religion in Ancient Greece in early July. In the fall, he will travel to the National Gallery in Washington DC as a Paul Mellon Visiting Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. In Washington DC, Papalexandrou will compose the last chapter of his book, Monsters, Fear, and the Uncanny in the Preclassical Mediterranean. In the upcoming book, Papalexandrou draws from theories of response to new media, e.g. what Tim Gunning has called the "aesthetic of attraction" in film of the late 19th century, to illuminate the physical, psychological, and aesthetic dimensions of the monstrous during the 7th century BCE.

Monsters, Fear, and the Uncanny in the Preclassical Mediterranean:
Scholars understand the Orientalizing as the systematic adoption of new types of Near Eastern objects, styles, and iconographies by the status-seeking elites of Greece, Italy, and the Western Mediterranean. The problem of the perceptual software (physical and mental ways of engagement between viewing subjects with material and visual culture) introduced and mediated by orientalizing objects, styles, and iconographies cries for systematic analysis. To this end, my study case is the orientalizing cauldrons, large bronze vessels with exquisitely wrought attachments of sirens, lions, and unprecedentedly lifelike protomes of griffins rendered in aggressive postures. Today these technically intricate vessels remain outside the stereotypical categories of art historical analysis. Their figurative apparatus, however, imbued them with the attraction and affect usually acknowledged for great artworks of later eras. I explore the mutual entanglement of these objects with their viewers within a framework of a newly established aesthetic of rare and wondrous experiences.

aerial image of vatican library
Image courtesy of Glenn Peers.

Glenn Peers begins a research trip to investigate medieval Greek and Georgian manuscripts at the Vatican Library, the Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi on Mount Athos, and at Mestia in northwestern Georgia. At the Vatican Library, Peers will research an eleventh century Psalter on which he has worked with an Italian colleague (their co-edited volume will be out later this year). At the Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi, the manuscript is a mid-fourteenth century Typikon (monastic order of services) made in Trebizond on the Black Sea and with illustrations of saints and labors and zodiacs for the year.

At Mestia, Peers will work on an initiative with Georgian colleagues for study, conservation, and publishing the first illustrated Georgian manuscript, late ninth century, in Mestia, Svaneti, a region in the mountainous northwestern corner of the country that is inaccessible for large parts of the year. The travel is funded by the Center for European Studies and Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies.

two women posing for photo
Image courtesy of Heidi Powell.

Heidi Powell heads to Ireland where she will remain through August 12, 2015. With Erica Wright, an Art Educator from Nevada, Powell will research community artists and art participation. They will also explore evidence of Ireland's core values in public engagement in the arts. Documentation of their journey will exist on their blog.

three people in forest filming
Image courtesy of Elizabeth Chiles.

Elizabeth Chiles completes a year and a half long project with her colleagues in the collective Lakes Were Rivers (LWR). LWR shot a film at The Contemporary Austin’s Laguna Gloria site, completed a book, and will build an installation for the exhibition Strange Pilgrims. Alumni members of LWR includes Anna Krachey (MFA in Studio Art 2008), Mike Osborne (MFA in Studio Art, 2006), Adam Schreiber (MFA in Studio Art, 2007), and Barry Stone (MFA in Studio Art, 2001). In addition, Chiles will be traveling in Maine and Vermont, engage in the natural environments of each, and respond in her studio, working toward two exhibitions: a solo show in Austin in the spring and a three-person exhibition in Atlanta in 2016.

Read part one of our series.

Eddie Chambers in conversation with Marsha Lowe

Thu. July 16, 2015

white overlapping hexagon and cube forms on green background

Eddie Chambers was interviewed by Marsha Lowe as part of No Colour Bar: Black British Art in Action 1960–1990, an exhibition at Guildhall Art Gallery.

The Industrial Design Reader, edited by Carma Gorman, listed in Fast Company's 35 Books Every Designer Should Read

Thu. July 16, 2015

book cover for The Industrial Design Reader

The Industrial Design Reader, edited by Carma Gorman, was included in Fast Company's list of 35 Books Every Design Should Read.

Michael Smith film screening at Hales Gallery

Thu. July 16, 2015

photograph of film screening in gallery with lights off
Image courtesy of artist and gallery.

During Hales Gallery's Positions series, work by Michael Smith and William Wegman will be screened July 14–18, 2015. A special evening screening and reception will be head July 16, 2015.

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