Grinnell, IA - In the days before personal computers, cell phones and email came the yearbook “Grinnell College – 1966,” deemed too controversial and banned from publication by the college until 1986. Photographed by Grinnell alumni Henry Wilhelm and the late John Phillips with contributions from fellow students John Wolf and Robert Hodierne, the yearbook was created as a photographic documentary of life in and out of the classroom at Grinnell during the mid-1960s, a time that soon led to major cultural and political turmoil on campuses and in society.
As part of a project to digitally re-master the 1966 yearbook for free worldwide online distribution, more than 100 high-quality, large-format photographs selected from the yearbook will be exhibited at Grinnell’s Faulconer Gallery, Apr. 13-June 3. The black-and-white images have been digitally printed from high-resolution scans of the photographers’ original 35mm negatives, preserved by Wilhelm for more than 45 years.
Wilhelm is an internationally recognized expert on photographic preservation and director of research at Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc. in Grinnell. He has been a preservation consultant to numerous collecting institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Corbis documentary photography collections owned by Bill Gates. In 2007, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Photoimaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association for his work on the evaluation of the permanence of traditional and digital color prints. In 2011, he received an honorary doctor of science degree from Grinnell.
A series of free, public exhibition programs, sponsored by Grinnell College and Faulconer Gallery, will provide background on the yearbook project and insight into the technological transformations making it accessible to the public. All events will be held in Faulconer Gallery unless otherwise noted.
- Apr. 13, 4:15 p.m.: A panel discussion by college trustee Harold Fuson, an authority on freedom of the press; Wolf, who co-authored the yearbook’s text; attorney Michael Horwatt; and Wilhelm will focus on the book’s innovations, controversies and eventual publication. The discussion, moderated by Grinnell President Emeritus George Drake who arranged to publish the yearbook in 1986, will include First Amendment rights and the exercise and restraint of those rights at colleges and universities. Fuson, former editor of the college newspaper, lawyer, and journalist, is the author of “Telling it All: A Legal Guide to the Exercise of Free Speech.” Horwatt represented Phillips and Wilhelm in 1966 in negotiations with the college about the banned yearbook.
- April 13, 6-7 p.m.: Opening reception. • Apr. 24, 4:15 p.m.: “The Forbidden Text” reading and panel discussion by Grinnell College students, faculty and staff who will read from censored or banned texts and explore issues of censorship and technology.
- May 3, 4:15 p.m.: Gallery talk by Wilhelm about the changing technologies of photography, printing and image storage since the 1960s.
Concurrent with the “1966 Yearbook Project” are three special exhibitions in campus galleries: civil rights photographs by John Phillips in Burling Gallery and John Chrystal Center, and a related Burling Gallery exhibit of activism photos and memorabilia organized by members of classes from 1967 to 1973. The Phillips’ prints, selected from two portfolios of work acquired by Faulconer Gallery, include photographs taken in 1965 of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic voting rights protests in Selma, Ala.
A set of prints of the 501 photographs in the yearbook will become part of the college’s permanent collection, and a high-resolution Adobe Acrobat PDF/A archival format digital edition of the book will also be created for online distribution. Supporters of these projects include Grinnell College, the late John Phillips, Henry, Carol, and Charlie Wilhelm, and the staff of Wilhelm Imaging Research, with assistance from Canon and ScanCafe.
Faulconer Gallery, located in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park St. on the Grinnell campus, is open Tuesday-Wednesday, noon to 5 p.m., Thursday-Friday, noon to 8 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.; closed Monday. For more information about the photographers, exhibition and related programs, call 641-269-4660 or visit www.grinnell.edu/faulconergallery.
Grinnell, IA - Family photos, old and new, reconstruct memories in the summer exhibition opening at Grinnell College’s Faulconer Gallery on June 24.
Using digital photographic techniques, California-based artist Liz Steketee offers creative insights into the art of photographs that explore the dynamics of family life and the lasting effects of memories. The artist combines old and new family photographs as a means of revisiting “the epic scenery of the everyday,” documenting her life as a wife and mother, and “the joy, the agony, and the irony of life’s experiences.”
“‘Family Album’ makes an immediate connection with gallery visitors because nearly everyone has or takes family photos,” said Daniel Strong, curator of the exhibition and associate director of the gallery. “Many of the scenes depicted in Steketee’s works will be familiar: family gatherings, trips to the beach and to the ice cream parlor, or sitting at home in front of the TV.
“We also hope the exhibition will encourage visitors to experiment in their everyday lives with photography’s creative potential. Not everyone is inclined to draw or paint but everyone takes pictures, and thanks to the genius of a camera on every cellphone, we’re all artists now.” Faulconer Gallery will host several “Family Album” public events this summer:
- Fri., June 24, 11 a.m.: exhibition opens.
- Sun., June 26, 3 p.m.: flute and piano concert with Rebecca Stuhr and Royce Wolf.
- Thursdays, June 30-Aug. 18, 12:15-12:50 p.m.: yoga with Monica St. Angelo.
- Sun., July 24, 3 p.m.: concert by Turlach Ur, including traditional and contemporary bagpipe tunes
- Thurs., Aug. 4, 5-7 p.m.: Families@Faulconer, an exhibition and reception for young artists who created work during summer outreach programs.
- Fri., Aug. 26, 4:15-6 p.m.: “Family Album” back-to-campus reception.
- Thurs., Sept. 1, 4:15 p.m.: gallery talk by artist Liz Steketee.
“Family Album” is open June 24 through Aug. 21 during summer gallery hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Monday. From Aug. 23 to the exhibition closing on Sept. 4, “Family Album” will be open during regular gallery hours: Tuesday-Wednesday, noon to 5 p.m., Thursday-Friday, noon to 8 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.; closed Monday. For more information about the exhibition and related programs, call 641-269-4660 or visit www.grinnell.edu/faulconergallery.
Grinnell, IA - “Sandow Birk’s American Qur’an” will open Fri., Jan. 27 at Grinnell College’s Faulconer Gallery. The exhibition, organized by The Andy Warhol Museum of Pittsburgh, will be on view in Grinnell through Mar. 18.
Birk, a California-based artist, has been engaged for the past six years in transcribing and illustrating an English translation of the 114 Suras, or chapters, of the Qur’an, Islam’s sacred text. Based on traditional models of manuscript illumination, Birk’s adaptation combines handwritten text with images drawn from contemporary American life. The Faulconer Gallery exhibition includes 85 painted panels from the ongoing project, which the artist plans to complete in 2014.
Birk was drawn to the Qur’an out of curiosity, seeking to educate himself about a book that many have formed opinions about, but fewer have actually read. “Given the global situation, the Qur’an may be the most important book on Earth, but few Americans know anything about it,” Birk told the New York Times in 2009. “I’m attempting to create visual metaphors that go along with the text and hopefully make it more accessible to Americans, more relevant to American life.”
Six of the panels in the exhibition, representing chapters 36 and 37 from the total 114, are part of Grinnell College’s permanent art collection, purchased in 2010.
“The purpose of the college’s art collection is education, and it is the Faulconer Gallery’s mission to use the collection in provocative ways to foster greater understanding,” said Daniel Strong, associate director of the gallery and curator of exhibitions. “Here is an artist who, when he’s completed the project, will have spent a decade of his life studying and interpreting the Qur’an solely for the purpose of educating himself about it.”
Strong explains that while most of the imagery is relatively benign, the artist found it impossible to avoid controversial events that have recently defined American life, such as devastation by Hurricane Katrina (one of the chapters in the college’s collection) and at the World Trade Center (in a chapter titled “Smoke”). “Art is a perfect means to launch the discussion. The Qur’an can’t be reduced to a few incendiary passages, nor can they or should they be disregarded. This exhibition is a quest for fuller understanding through beautifully executed art,” Strong said.
Educational programming, organized by Tilly Woodward, curator of academic and public outreach, also provides a wide variety of platforms to learn about Islam, including an open invitation for reading of the Qur’an. “Gallery visitors are invited to read aloud from the Qur’an in any language that feels right to them. We believe their experience will be enhanced from listening and reading. All are welcome to come,” Woodward said.
All events sponsored by Faulconer Gallery are free, open to the public, and located in the gallery unless otherwise noted:
- Jan. 27, 4:15-6 p.m.: Opening reception.
- Jan. 30, 4:15 p.m.: Panel discussion on “Islam in Iowa” with Kamal Hammouda, adjunct Muslim prayer leader; Mervat Youssef, assistant professor of French and Arabic; and Imam Taha Tawil of the Mother Mosque of America, who will speak on their experiences as Muslims in the state.
- Feb. 9, 4:15 p.m.: Student roundtable on “The Qur’an in America,” facilitated by Caleb Elfenbein, assistant professor of religious studies and history.
- Feb. 11, 1:30-3:30 p.m.: Community Day with a variety of hands-on activities.
- Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m.: Open mic night, co-sponsored by Grinnell Review and Grinnell College Libraries, featuring original works by Grinnell students and others who wish to share favorite writers or composers.
- Feb. 16, 4:15 p.m.: “Visualizing Islamophobia” discussion with Max Leung, lecturer in sociology, based on his research on the identities of Arabs and Muslims in America.
- Feb. 28, 4:15 p.m.: Gallery talk by artist Sandow Birk, discussing his ongoing project.
- Thursdays, Feb. 9-Mar. 15, 12:15-12:50 p.m.: Yoga with Monica St. Angelo. Co-sponsored by Live Well Grinnell. Mats provided for beginners and experienced practitioners.
More educational events will be offered in March. Faulconer Gallery, located in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park St. on the Grinnell campus, is open Tuesday-Wednesday, noon to 5 p.m., Thursday-Friday, noon to 8 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.; closed Monday. For more information about the exhibition and related programs, call 641-269-4660 or visit www.grinnell.edu/faulconergallery.
Grinnell, IA - “Kind Favor, Kind Letter, “ a collaborative exhibition by Grinnell College faculty artist Lee Emma Running; Tatiana Ginsberg of Mount Holyoke College; and Santa Fe sculptor Kate Carr, will open Jan. 28 at Grinnell College’s Faulconer Gallery.
The installation of handmade paper, fabric, thread, and pre-printed material is based on the artists’ previous collaborative exhibition at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in 2009. The three first worked together while training as papermakers at the University of Iowa Center for the Book.
“Hand-making paper is an aesthetic we learned together,” Running said. “The techniques have informed our practices as individual artists. We didn’t need to speak when making paper; our unspoken gestures were our dialogue.”
Gestures also play into the exhibition title, which is based on symbols or gestures from Gregg Shorthand, a phonetic writing system once used for speedy note-taking. The three artists wrote letters to one another as they began their collaboration, and their letters influenced the work on display in the Grinnell installation. “The text connected us across the country, and the garlands in the exhibition represent that connection,” Running said.
The three artists gathered in Grinnell in early January to install the works together. “We wanted to build an environment for the site-specific installation instead of discrete works. And we wanted to bring the show to Grinnell because of the collaborative model so student artists can see how they can stay connected to other artists,” Running said. Her works of paper will also be on display at Upper Iowa University and in Kansas City this spring.
Faulconer Gallery events related to “Kind Favor, Kind Letter” include:
- Jan. 28, 4:15-6 p.m.: Opening reception.
- Feb. 15, 4:15 p.m.: Gallery talk by Lee Emma Running, assistant professor of art, Grinnell College.
- Mar. 2, 7:30 p.m.: Open mic night co-sponsored by Grinnell College Libraries
- Mar. 10, 4:15 p.m.: “Unmapped Topography” gallery talk by Tatiana Ginsberg, Mount Holyoke College.
- Thursdays, beginning Feb. 3, 12:15-12:50 p.m.: yoga in the gallery with Monica St. Angelo
“Kind Favor, Kind Letter” runs through Mar. 20 concurrent with “Of Fables and Folly,” an exhibition by South African artist Diane Victor. “Kind Favor, Kind Letter” is coordinated by Daniel Strong, associate director of Faulconer Gallery, and will be on display during regular gallery hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: noon – 5 p.m.; Thursday, Friday: noon – 8 p.m. or by appointment. All exhibition events are held in Faulconer Gallery in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts on the Grinnell campus, unless otherwise noted. For more information about the exhibition and related programs, call 641-269-4660 or visit www.grinnell.edu/faulconergallery.