MSU curator Cari Wolfe to speak in Morenci 3.17.2010

Written by David Green.

When you look at a painting, what do you see?

Does the main subject catch your eye or perhaps a splash of color?

Learn a few new ways to look at art Thursday evening when Cari Wolfe from Michigan State University’s Kresge Art Museum visits Stair Public Library. 

Wolfe will discuss paintings from the library’s Picturing America collection at at a program starting at 6:30 p.m.

In cooperation with the American Library Association, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) initiated Picturing America in 2008 to bring high-quality reproductions of American masterpieces to schools and libraries nationwide.

“When the program started, I worked with the Michigan Humanities Council to set up a seminar to help teachers use Picturing America in the classroom,” Wolfe said.

Since then she’s spoken at several schools and libraries about the art featured in the series, along with other works by the artists and works that follow a similar story line.

Her presentation here will go beyond the Picturing America reproductions on display at the library and will also include works from Kresge. The pieces range from Colonial to modern.

Wolfe won’t be lecturing the audience.

“I try to engage the audience,” she said. “I think that’s important. I want to try to make them ‘own’ the image.”

The works chosen by the NEH depict America’s history, ideals and aspirations, giving viewers a fresh way to connect with the past through art.

“It’s been a very exciting program for us as a museum,” Wolfe said, and she’s ready to share that excitement here Thursday.

“Visual culture is very important,” she said, “and I want to inspire people to look closer.”

• The program is scheduled in the library annex. Refreshments will be served following Wolfe’s presentation. 

A sneak preview of the National Endowment for the Humanities next initiative, Picturing America on Screen, can be viewed during refreshments. The new project features five of the Picturing America images in three short movies (about 3-5 minutes each). 

Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother and Children” photograph taken in 1936 is highlighted in the first movie; the other two shorts compare and contrast the James Karales “Selma-to-Montgomery March for Voting Rights in 1965” photograph with “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” the almost life-size Emanuel Leutze painting, and a 1929 photo of the Brooklyn Bridge by Walker Evans with Joseph Stella’s abstract painting of the Brooklyn Bridge. Other movies are still in development; eventually all 40 images will be featured in film.

“These short movies are quite absorbing and are intended to make the art more accessible and understandable,” said director Colleen Leddy. “The one that compares the march on Selma with Washington crossing the Delaware is especially fascinating.”

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