New exhibits open at the Samek Gallery

Surrealism and Classic Literature on Campus

Rachel Milio, Staff Writer

Two new exhibits have opened at the Samek Gallery: “Mystic Detectives” is a surrealist exhibit at the Campus Gallery in the Elaine Langone Center that opened on Oct. 16, and “Women’s Work” opened at the Downtown Gallery on Oct. 2 and is tied to the Classics Department.

Gallery Director Rick Rinehart said of the exhibits, “The Samek strives to present a wide range of art exhibitions in part to maximize the number and range of interdisciplinary connections on campus, and in part to serve our community with something fresh and new each time.”

“Mystic Detectives” is “a show originally curated at the Samek and so it is also a premiere,” Rinehart said. It has replaced the prior exhibit, ‘Painted Pages,’ which featured illuminated manuscripts from the 13th to 18th centuries.

On the transition between medieval and Surrealist exhibits, two dissimilar styles of art, Rinehart said, “It’s not difficult to transition from one show to the next, because this is what we do all the time.” However, he also commented on the addition of, “different wall colors and graphic treatment to enhance the experience of the exhibition.”

“Mystic Detectives” was proposed by Professor of Art History Roger Rothman in conjunction with a Surrealist conference occurring in early November. It will also be paired with “A Surrealist Party” on Nov. 28 from 7-8 p.m. in the Campus Gallery.

The aim of “Mystic Detectives” is to “tap the subconscious through abjection, humor and cognitive dissonance.” It features pieces from a variety of Surrealist artists, including Nick Knight.

The second exhibit, “Women’s Work,” at the Downtown Gallery, was proposed by the Classics Department who, according to Rinehart, “brought a wealth of knowledge about classical literature and life to the exhibition of visual art.”

The exhibit combines classical texts with contemporary illustrations, and focuses on the gendered power structures in the ancient world. It will be accompanied by lectures presented by University faculty, including Professors Erica Delsandro, Ashli Baker, and Stephanie Larson.

Baker, Assistant Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, said of the pieces featured in “Women’s Work,” “The artists’ books in this exhibit were inspired by stories of women either seeing or being seen in a way that changes everything about the rest of the narrative.”

Of all the pieces in the exhibit, Baker recommended a book that gallery visitors can interact with directly. She described, “the haunting image of Eurydice fading page by page in Fred Hagstrom’s book.”

Although “Women’s Work” is tied to the ancient world, featuring classical literature and oral traditions, Baker believes it contains lessons pertinent to the modern world. “There are always new ways of framing and telling very old stories,” Baker said, commenting on the way the exhibit offers new interpretations of classic works.

Baker also recommended the exhibit on the basis of its gender commentary. She alluded to the imbalance in the historical treatment of women, and how through “Women’s Work,” gallery visitors can see how “women have found and continue to find ways of living rich lives filled with meaning, telling their own stories, and doing their ‘work.’”

“If we see glimmers of women’s contemporary lives in these old stories, we can reflect on our shared heritage with the past, but we can also ask why change isn’t coming faster,” Baker said.

Rinehart praised the University faculty that have inspired both “Mystic Detectives” and “Women’s Work.” “One of the best things about managing a campus gallery is having the intellectual engine of the campus right at our fingertips, ” he said.

Both exhibits are open to visitors from 12-5 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday of every week.

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