Friday, January 6, 2:30 PM, 412 St. Patrick’s Bldg

James Opp, Professor, Department of History, Carleton University

“Mr. Brown’s Collection: Photographs, Longing, and History in Prairie Canada”

For more than 30 years, photographer Ernest Brown and his life partner, Gladys Reeves, struggled to transform a large collection of 50,000 glass plate negatives, most dating from the nineteenth century, into a usable twentieth-century visual history of the prairies.  The collection was finally purchased by the Government of Alberta long before it even had an archive to store them in.  As the first curator for the collection after this transfer, Reeves did more than simply manage the photographic archive, she also managed the memory of the collector after the death of Brown in 1951.  This presentation explores the many layers of longing that intersect the histories of “Mr. Brown’s Collection.”  From exhibitions, to museums, to albums, to schools, these photographs circulated widely and served to bolster many different narratives of history, while Brown and Reeves struggled to maintain control over both the circulation and message that the images could convey.

Image Caption: Ernest Brown, ‘The Birth of the West’ Historical Photograph Display, Edmonton Exhibition, c. 1933.  Ernest Brown Collection, Provincial Archives of Alberta.


Friday, January 20, 2:30 PM, 412 St. Patrick’s Bldg
Ruth Phillips, Canada Research Chair, and Professor, Art History, SSAC

“Aboriginal Autoethnographies: The Visual Culture of Dispossession in 19th Century Ontario”

This talk will examine two important episodes of self- representation by Mississauga people in southern Ontario during the first half of the 19th century: the private ‘museum’ of the Reverend Peter Jones and the gifts presented to the Prince of Wales by Peterborough area  Mississauga during his 1860 royal tour of Canada. Both collections evidence creative responses to the radical and traumatic changes in art and life that accompanied rapid land loss and conversion during the first half of the nineteenth century.

Image Caption: One of the Indian Women who Received His R.H. The Prince of Wales at Pah-me-tush-qu-tuyung, Rice Lake, C.W. 7th Sept. 1860, watercolour from an album owned by Col Brown.  Courtesy of Trent University Archives.


Friday, February 3, 2:30 PM, 412 St. Patrick’s Bldg

Anke Kausch, Independent Scholar

“Classical Chinese paintings from the collection of the National Gallery of Canada”

Despite its outstanding quality, the National Gallery of Canada’s collection of classical Chinese paintings has rarely been on display. The small collection consists of hand scrolls, hanging scrolls and album leaves, dated between the 11th and 18th century. Most of the paintings were given to the Gallery in the late 1960s and early 1970s by Reginald William Finlayson and his wife Marjorie. The Toronto couple focused their collection on Ming and Qing dynasty literati painters and especially favoured a group of artists, famous for their unconventional and expressive brushwork: the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou.

Anke Kausch will talk about her findings during her research fellowship at the National Gallery of Canada, from Nov. 2009 to June 2010, when she was given the opportunity to study the Chinese painting collection in depth.

Image Caption: Qiu Ying (c.1494–c.1552), The Emperor Guang Wu Fording a River, ink and colour on silk, 170.8 x 65.4 cm, National Gallery of Canada (no. 6485).


Friday, February 17, 2:30 PM, 412 St. Patrick’s Bldg

Zuzana Pick, Professor, Film Studies, SSAC

“The Unmaking of the Ugly Gringo: The modernist aesthetics of Gabriel Figueroa and the reconfiguration of Mexico in John Ford’s The Fugitive (1947).”

In her review for the Sunday Times on May 4, 1948, British film critic Dilys Powell wrote: “the most significant contributors to The Fugitive are the Mexican scene, the Mexican sunlight and Ford’s Mexican collaborators.” Should this statement be read as reiteration of the allure of Mexico as an exotic other or an acknowledgement of a creative partnership? The lecture will attempt to answer these questions.  Directed by a Hollywood veteran, photographed by a Mexican and based on a novel by a British writer, The Fugitive is suggestive of the complexities at work in modernist representations of rural Mexico that, irrespective of their national origins and with distinctive fusion of local and foreign idioms, are central to filmic constructions of “Mexico.”

Image Caption: The Fugitive (John Ford 1947) Filmstrip frame digitized by Gabriel Figueroa Flores


Friday, March 9, 2:30 PM, 412 St. Patrick’s Bldg

Erika Balsom, Assistant Professor, Film Studies, SSAC

“The Advent of Video Projection”

John Belton has called the use of video projection a “false revolution” in mainstream theatrical presentation because it has little impact on spectatorial experience. If, however, one examines the effect of the same technology in the gallery and museum, one finds that there is no falsity to its revolutionary transformations. The widespread adoption of projection has changed the possibilities and parameters of video as an artistic medium. It has drastically altered the relationships between image, viewer, and surrounding architecture. It has distanced video from television and brought it into dialogue with cinema as it never has been before. It has led to a new interest in illusionism and to the creation of gigantic images that make even large videowalls appear small by comparison. It is perhaps the single factor most responsible for the massive institutional endorsement of the medium from the early 1990s onwards, which in turn helped to validate it on the primary market.

Why precisely did video projection become such an attractive and institutionally-endorsed artistic technique in the early 1990s after being possible but seldom employed for two decades previous? The answer is in part a matter of technological innovation, but is to a greater degree one of institutional politics and television’s loss of relevance as a point of reference for video artists. This presentation will examine the realignment of the field of practice brought about by the advent of video projection by situating it in the history of art, interrogating its specificity as a mode of display, and providing a clearer sense of the circumstances surrounding its ascendance in the early-to-mid 1990s.

Image Caption: Cover, New York Magazine.  New York: New York Media, LLC.  April 19, 1976.


Friday, March 23, 2:30 PM, 412 St. Patrick’s Bldg

Allison Sherman, Independent Scholar

“The Church of Santa Maria della Salute as a repository for displaced treasures of the Venetian Republic”

In 1656 the monasteries of Santa Maria dei Crociferi and Santo Spirito in Isola were suppressed by Pope Alexander VII, who granted the Venetian Republic the right to any profit made from the sale of these buildings to fund the war in Candia.  Perhaps not coincidentally, these two churches were laden with valuable artistic treasures from the previous century.  Before selling off the buildings and objects, the Venetian Senate, urged by the local painters’ guild, stripped the monasteries of the finest objects, finally deciding that they be kept in Venice “for the public good”, and out of the hands of foreign collectors.  Their resolution to create a public collection in the sacristy of the newly built shrine church of the Salute—an important focus of both civic and public ceremony and devotion—secured a place of prominence for these displaced works of art, yet also obscured their original meaning and history by shifting their context.  This paper will examine this initiative as an early example of Venetian awareness of the importance of preserving its cultural patrimony in the face of the voracious appetite of the export market for quality pictures from what was already understood as a golden age of painting and an integral component of Venetian identity.

Image Caption: Allison Sherman, Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, 2000


Fall Term 2011, past talks in the Series


Friday, September 16, 2:30 PM, 412 St. Patrick’s Bldg

Dr. Jesse Stewart, Assistant Professor, Music, SSAC

“Time Pieces”


Composer, percussionist, visual artist, and SSAC music professor, Jesse Stewart, will discuss his interdisciplinary creative practice focusing in particular on his recent body of work titled Time Pieces which will be on display at the Karsh Masson Gallery in Ottawa until September 25. Exploring different conceptions and representations of time is one of the major points of intersection between his work in the visual arts and music/sound. For Stewart, time isn’t just a linear sequence of events with the future continually becoming the present and then slipping into an ever receding past. Rather, time is intimately connected to patterns of growth and decay, to ritual, memory, rhythm, cyclicity, and impermanence. Suzanne Langer famously wrote that “Music makes time audible.” With Time Pieces, Stewart has tried to make time both audible and visible in a variety of ways.

 Image Caption: Jesse Stewart, Untitled, 2011, clock hands on canvas, 3ft x 3ft.


Friday, September 30, 2:30 PM, 412 St. Patrick’s Bldg

Dr. Julia Pine, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Art History and Theory, University of Essex, Colchester, England

“The Barbed Brush: Veiled Satire in Salvador Dalí’s Society Portraits”

The Spanish painter Salvador Dalí has been described as “the world’s most famous Surrealist,” although he is perhaps best known for his eccentric public persona. Much less known, however, is that Dalí was also a popular society portraitist, producing more than eighty sometimes surprisingly conventional commissions between the mid-1920s and the mid-1970s. While his clients varied from Hollywood movie moguls to Spanish royalty, the artist was especially productive when it came to painting the North American elite, and in particular the wives of wealthy landowners, financiers and industrialists. This study looks at a number of these little-known and seldom-published works, some of which have intriguing Canadian connections. Most notably, it considers Dalí’s society portrait “formula,” comprised of a quirky lexicon of symbols which often subtly, and sometimes scathingly, caricature his frequently unsuspecting subjects.

Image Caption: Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí (Spanish, 1904-1989). Equestrian Fantasy: Lady Dunn, 1954, oil on canvas, 119.7 x 134.6 cm. The Beaverbrook Art Gallery/The Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation (disputed). © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí (2011) / SODRAC (2011).


Friday, October 14, 2:30 PM, 412 St. Patrick’s Building

“Inner Realms: An Artists talk with Amy Thompson” 

The quiet subtlety of Amy Thompson’s work belies an inner phoenix, a hidden knowledge that glints at the heart of mythic symbols. Composed of photographs and images gleaned from vintage catalogues, encyclopedias and other ephemera, her collages simultaneously evoke a familiar world—a bucolic realm of birds, insects, moonlight and natural phenomena—and invest it with a perplexing symbolic potential. In the strange inter-zone of these images, the moon flips upside-down, birds have the bodies of girl-children, starlight comes down to earth, and the fragile innocence of childhood haunts the night sky. At once mutely attractive and profoundly disconcerting, these quiet, inexplicable images make us wonder.

Image Caption: Leda (Cynus), 2009, Mixed Media on Board, 37.5″ x 26″


Friday, November 18, 2:30 PM, 412 St. Patrick’s Bldg

Dr. Andrea Terry, Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Canadian Studies, Carleton University

“Curatorial Politics: Examining the Role of Women and Gender in Museums”

Today, art historical research has expanded to consider the functions of women in Canadian museums, examining issues such as women’s role(s) in the development of art galleries.  I aim to broaden the field by exploring women’s contributions in the Canadian historic house museum movement.  In this lecture, I will consider the work of “women volunteerists” involved in the museumification of Dundurn Castle – the home of Prime Minister and Family Compact leader Sir Allan Napier MacNab (1798-1862) in Hamilton, Ontario.  From 1901 to the 1960s, women worked as curators, guides, and administrators turning the home into as a historic house museum.  Their efforts ultimately recommended the possibility of the site’s restoration as Hamilton’s Canadian Centennial celebration project.  As I will show, upon its restitution as a state-sanctioned historic house museum, Dundurn functioned as a microcosm of gendered dynamics.  More broadly, I will consider connections between art and history, heritage and nationhood, and gender and “professionalism”.

Image Caption: Andrea Terry, Dundurn Castle, Front Façade, Hamilton, Ontario, 2010.