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2009 Alfred Z. Solomon Residency: “Gender Studies and Art History”

For this Alfred Z. Solomon Residency titled Gender Studies and Art History, the three-day residency will include two lectures and a panel discussion that are free and open to the public.

About the Residency

The events will take place in the museum’s Payne Presentation Room, and will feature two distinguished art historians whose research interests are drawn from different continents and centuries. Henry Drewal, the Evjue-Bascom Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researches the African water spirit known as Mami Wata (pidgin English for “Mother Water”). Patricia Simons, an associate professor in History of Art/Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, explores representations of masculinity in the art of Renaissance Italy.

2009 Solomon Residency Schedule of Events

Lecture - Spirit Spouse: Art and Gender Identity in the Worship of Mami Wata
Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - 5:30 pm
With Henry Drewal, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Known and worshipped throughout much of Africa, Mami Wata is often pictured as a beautiful woman with a snake coiled around her body. Part mermaid, part carnival snake-charmer, the deity has ties to African water spirits, European mermaids, Hindu gods and goddesses, and Christian and Muslim saints. “Many followers (both female and male) of the African water deity MamiWata— and of a host of mami wata/papi wata spirits—are drawn to them because of gender-identity crises,” explains Drewal. He will introduce the visual culture and history of water spirits, and discuss the life, faith, and artistry of Katarina Walas, an Ewe priestess of Mami Wata who molds clay sculptures and creates sacred spaces to enrich and intensify her devotions.

Lecture - Sex in the Kitchen: The Social Iconography of Male Bodies in Renaissance Art and Culture
Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 5:30 pm
With Patricia Simons, University of Michigan

In examining artworks like Vincenzo Campi’s ribald and graphic 1580s oil painting of a kitchen scene, Simons discovers “the boisterous rather than theological association of gluttony and lust,” noting that “many metaphors for food preparation had a sexual sense. Such actions as ladling, grinding, mixing, stirring, grating, cooking, and baking are double entendres in both texts and image.” In her talk, Simons will consider “the cross-fertilization of metaphors and bodies, and of ways in which various strata of evidence enable us to approach the texture of bodily experience in the past.”

Panel Discussion
Friday, October 30, 2009 - 2:30 - 4:30 pm
Panel Discussion - Henry Drewal, Patricia Simons with Skidmore faculty members Adrienne Zuerner (Foreign Languages), Natalie Taylor (Government), and Mason Stokes (English). Light refreshments at 2 pm.

The 2009 Solomon Residency’s spotlight on gender studies reflects the process currently underway at Skidmore to change the college’s Women’s Studies program to Gender Studies, with courses expected to appear in the fall 2010 master schedule. The interdisciplinary gender studies program will draw on feminist, gender, and queer theories and scholarship to analyze the experiences, perspectives, and contributions of women, men, and intersexed people, and systems of gender relations in various cultural settings and time periods.

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