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Christine Hahn, Associate Professor of Art History

22July2010 Evergood Mural, Kalamazoo CollegeChristine published an article, “Maintaining Problematic Art: A Case Study of Philip Evergood’s The Bridge of Life (1942) at Kalamazoo College.” The article appeared in Public Art Dialogue (6:1, 116-130) on May 27, 2016.

The piece is particularly interesting for any alumni familiar with the mural (see above) in Old Welles Hall. It covers the history of controversy inspired by the work since it’s unveiling (1942), including specific calls (in 1966 and in 2010) for some redress for iconography deemed offensive to and by some individuals and groups. Detailing the call-and-response to the criticism voiced in 2010, Christina ultimately suggests “that problematic public art has the unique potential to produce positive social change by staying in place.”

The article reveals much about K’s history, including Evergood’s time on campus as an artist and a teacher as well as his bona fides as an ardent social radical. Christina also introduces (from Lewis Hyde, author of Common as Air) a concept of “freedom of listening.” In his book Hyde cites Benjamin Franklin’s creation of a lecture hall where “people were free to give lectures on whatever they wanted.” In that space (Christina quotes Hyde): “Individual speakers present singular views; individual listeners entertain plurality…. The hall was thus built to serve the eighteenth-century idea of replacing the partial self with a plural or public self, one who is host to many voices, even those otherwise at odds with the singular being you thought you were when you first walked in the door….If we take free listening to be the true end of free speech, then freedom itself takes on a different aspect…intelligence arises in the common world, where many voices can be heard; it belongs to collectivity, not privacy, and is available especially to those who can master the difficult art of plural listening.”

Christina invokes Hyde’s notion of “agonistic listening amongst equals in conflict” (a notion that is at the heart of the academy and a direct contrast to “antagonism, where opponents try to silence or destroy the other”) to describe College and student responses to the controversy implicit and explicit in the work, particularly the responses that took place or were considered between 2010 and 2015. She writes: “The building Benjamin Franklin built that embraced such agonistic pluralism eventually became the Philadelphia Academy, which in turn became the University of Pennsylvania. This transformation of space, built to house agonistic conflict among equals, is a particularly fitting symbol of how physical space can potentially create a space for inquiry, conflict and debate. This type of site is necessary and important. Indeed, as Lewis Hyde argues, it is agonistic spaces such as these that are the foundations of democracy.”

The presence of the mural, Christina continues, has provided the intellectual and emotive space for agonistic listening, “has allowed these twenty-first-century conversations on race, class dynamics and elite educations to take place….[M]aintaining problematic public art in an agonistic space helps keep our understanding of the past and our vision of the future firmly in view.” A fascinating article, well worth the time to read it.

Kathleen Buday ’90

Kathleen is assistant professor of art therapy in the Department of Visual Arts at University of Wisconsin-Superior. She earned her B.A. degree in studio art from K and studied abroad in Clermont-Ferrand, France. She earned her M.Ed. degree in art education from Wayne State University. Kathleen has more than 15 years of experience in the art and art therapy fields, including time spent as a visiting instructor of art and art history at K.

Julie Mehretu ’92

Julie is at work on two massive paintings (27 x 32 feet) commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She describes the works as the most American of her her paintings, ones that try to “make sense of where we are in our country right now.” She began work on them the day after the November 2016 national election. An article on Julie and these paintings appeared in the New York Times (“In an Unused Harlem church, a Towering Work of a ‘Genius’,” by Hilarie M. Sheets, August 3, 2017).

Shivangee Pandya ’08

Shivangee has been named the new director of Lawyers for the Creative Economy, a program of Creative Many Michigan, a statewide economic development organization for the arts, culture, and creative design industries. The program delivers free to low-fee intellectual property and creativity-related legal resources and services to artists, creative practitioners, businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Shivangee helps identify legal issues likely to affect artists and other creative persons and enterprises, and she determines the appropriate legal support and resources needed. She also prepares Michigan attorneys to provide artists with basic intellectual property knowledge and resources through her work at periodic workshops, public lectures, orientations, and forums. At K Shivangee earned her bachelor’s degree with a double major in religion and economics and business. She studied abroad in Aberdeen, Scotland. Shivangee earned her J.D. from Wayne State University Law School.

Judy Bell ’71

Last October Judy was the featured artist at the 37th annual Quilt Show, sponsored by Washington State Quilters. Judy worked for two decades as a family practice physician in California. Her family’s roots trace back to the hills of West Virginia, where one of her grandmothers was a quilter. That fact and occasional visits to quilt museums in New England and Europe during a 40-year span kept her interested in quilting. When she retired in 2006 she started making quilts herself. She uses a long-arm quilting machine, “basically a sewing machine mounted on a big frame.” Judy has taken classes and taught herself the craft by watching videos and reading books. Since her retirement she’s made about 50 quilts. Asked in an interview about her thought process during the making of a quilt, Judy replied, “I think about classical music or Billy Joel or Elton John, because I like to have music on while I’m quilting. But I think about quilting and various patterns and what I’m going to do half the day, because it’s so fascinating to me. I spent my whole professional life being very technical, very scientific, very linear. And there’s a lot of that in quilting. You have to sew a seam and make one point come to another point. But what’s fun is that I can also ask myself, ’Can I try this? What if I do that?’ I couldn’t do that very much when I was in medicine.” Judy’s extensive post-retirement travel has influenced her work. She’s learned about fabric arts in countries such as Mozambique, Tanzania and Nepal. “Quilting has given me a way to connect to the women in those countries,” Judy said. “They may not quilt, but you can still immerse yourself in color and fabric.” Interestingly, Japan is a country where quilting is taking off. Explained Judy: “Japan already had a long tradition of handmade fabrics, but not patchwork quilts. Then the TV series “Little House on the Prairie” was syndicated in Japan about 15 years ago and became wildly popular. Because there were a lot of quilts in the show, reproducing this primitive American art form took over in Japan. Now, the Tokyo International Quilt Festival in January is the biggest quilt show in the world, with a whole section devoted to “Little House on the Prairie”-style quilts made by Japanese women.” Judy matriculated to K from Hillsdale, Michigan. At K, she majored in psychology and studied abroad in Erlangen, Germany.

Bethany Johnson ’07

Bethany Johnson joins Texas State UniversityBethany, an alumna of the Kalamazoo College art department, has joined Texas State University this fall as assistant professor in the School of Art & Design. After graduating from K, Bethany earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where she also served as a lecturer after completing her MFA. In her tenure-track position at Texas State, Bethany will continue to develop her own creative work alongside her coursework in drawing and two-dimensional design. The piece pictured above is titled “We Live on a Planet.” You can see more of Bethany’s work at bethanyjo.com.

Judith Manning Winkley ’73

Judith won the “People’s Choice” award during the Artists League of the Sandhills’ 19th Annual Art Exhibit and Sale for her oil painting “The Fisherman”. The award is given to the artist whose painting receives the most votes during the exhibit’s four-day opening weekend. Judith and her husband Rich Winkley ’71 live in Pinehurst, North Carolina

Jennifer Zeoli ’96

Jennifer  works for the Tweedle Group in Europe. She travels the world (sometimes for work, sometimes on her own) taking pictures and keeping a blog about her adventures. Her photos and postings are amazing. Jennifer writes: “I’m a modern day nomad. When I’m not traveling for work, I explore destinations, both on and off the beaten path, all over the world. I love to experience new cities, cultures, food, adventures… what ever life has, I want to experience it all. My family and friends have often said that they live vicariously through my travels. I want to share these with you and hope you enjoy.” At K Jennifer majored in psychology and studied abroad in Strasbourg, France.