Welcome, Members of Parliament

Welcome, Members of Parliament. This blog is designed to act as a student forum for anyone enrolled in my classes at a Dallas-area proprietary college, former students, and/or others who find our conversations interesting. The Parliament will be moderated to ensure civility and relevance. The directions we take, the paths we follow, and the concerns we address are all up to you.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Art and Archaeology in the News

This will be a regular feature of the Parliament, in hopes of furthering students' understanding of course topics--and perhaps fostering a bit of curiosity.

Archaeology Magazine this month offers a plethora of articles relevant to both my art history and humanities classes. The issue is available on the periodical shelves in the Library, and some of the information is available in online abstracts:

The Power of Chocolate traces the cultural distribution and importance of cacao in Mesoamerica and the American Southwest.

In class this week I mentioned the opening of the House of the Chaste Lovers in Pompeii. The well-preserved frescoes provide good examples of Roman painting, as well as a peek into the domestic lives of the upper crust in rural Rome.

New discoveries in Tuscany (Italy) are helping scholars better understand the Etruscans, and digs are turning up evidence about domestic life in Italy before the Romans, as well as examples of gold jewelry and other luxury goods. The photo that opens this post is an example of Etruscan artistry, although it's not one of the objects discussed in the article.

Since we’ll be covering daily life in ancient Italy in both History of Art and Design I and Intro to the Humanities during week 4, these last two articles will perhaps be of some interest. The Humanities class will be discussing the Maya during week 6, so the chocolate article will be useful to everyone –especially the culinary folks. But don’t we all love chocolate?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is featuring a Roman mosaic from Israel in a current exhibit. The link takes you to an overview of the work, and a short video. As I’ve pointed out in class, mosaics rely on the same optical principal as pixels. This one depicts all manner of critters, both from land and from sea, with rather remarkable detail. There’s also a link to the Met’s YouTube page, which includes over 300 short videos on just about every topic imaginable related to the history of art and design.

Image credit: 5th-4th century BCE Etruscan gold necklace, displayed at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Photo by Mary Harrsch, via Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Things Medieval

I just happened to notice in this morning's edition of the Daily Poop that the 38th season of PBS's spectacular series, Nova, begins with an episode of interest for History of Art & Design I students especially. It may also spark fond memories among my HAD II students.

At any rate, the episode is called Building the Great Cathedrals and airs tonight at 8 pm locally on KERA. It will be repeated on Thursday the 21st (on KERA World) at 9 am, 3 pm, and 5 pm. The link takes you to the Nova page, which includes interactive features on the building process, engineering points, and the chemistry of stained glass. The program runs for 60 minutes (in answer to the perpetual whine, "how long is this movie?").

One of my loyal students whizzed by my classroom Friday night with a copy of The Secret of Kells on DVD. I've been waiting for this since before the Oscars last year (it was nominated for best animated feature, competing against the likes of Up!). So this weekend I ran out and snagged the Blu-Ray edition, which is just plain scrumptious. This has got to be one of the most beautiful animated films I've ever seen, and is directly related to the manuscript illumination segment of HAD I. The link is to the promotional trailer (I tried to embed it here but it was too wide, so I just linked it).

The features on the Blu-Ray include the director's discussion of inspirations--including Medieval manuscripts, Celtic designs, and even Gustav Klimt. If his remarks don't make art history worth knowing, nothing will.

Image credit: Chartres Cathedral, southern facade, by TTaylor, via Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Welcome and/or Welcome Back

The first day of a new quarter always represents promise: everything's looking up for the moment, and there are slews of new faces and names to remember (something that grows more and more difficult for me every year), as well as new experiences to, well, experience.

To start things off I thought I'd mention some events of potential interest to student-artists occurring around the country and here in Dallas.

The first of these is the Dallas Museum of Art's new exhibit of fifteenth-century funerary sculptures, The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy. They provide an unforgettable example of the Renaissance reconciliation between Classicism and Christianity, with exquisite small-scale depictions of grief. I'll work on an extra-credit assignment for those who need a little inspiration to get to the exhibit--but you really shouldn't need to be coaxed.

Of particular interest to anyone studying anatomy and life drawing, The National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC) is featuring selections from its library in an exhibit on The Body Inside and Out: Anatomical Literature and Art Theory. The brochure can be downloaded in .pdf format (8 pages) and contains some useful information on the history of visual understanding about the body.

The Meadows Museum at SMU has scored something of a coup in exhibiting El Greco's Pentecost as part of a three-year alliance with the Prado Museum in Madrid. The Meadows collection focuses on Spanish and colonial art, and the new partnership can only prove to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

In honor of one of the themes we'll be pursuing in my Humanities class (memory), take a look at the Museum of Modern Art's education pages--this one featuring Salvador Dalí's Persistence of Memory, with an explanatory video. Although I'm not one of Dali's acolytes, most of my students find him irresistible, and this seemed like a way to acquaint you with what MoMA has to offer. If you find yourself in St. Petersburg, Florida about a hundred days from now, you could also visit the new Dalí Museum, which has been under construction for the past two plus years.

A new feature of this blog will focus on discovered work by new artists: those I didn't know existed until I ran into them on the web, or until my students mentioned them to me. The first of these is Turgo Bastien, a Haitian-born abstract artist whose work reminds me of the scarification designs and Luba memory-boards we'll talk about in the Humanities class. His mixed media piece, Another Call From Africa, opens this post.

Have a great quarter, People. Let's do some good work and have fun.

Image credit: Turgo Bastien, Another Call From Africa, 2009. Via Wikimedia Commons.