Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

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Rediscovering “a good read”

October 21, 2009

By Rosemary Dorsa, vice president for partnerships and strategic initiatives at the Central Indiana Community Foundation, Inc., and current Indiana Humanities Council chair-elect.

As a kid I read like crazy – The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys – all the serial books, regardless of gender-targeting.   I loved going to the library and taking out a stack of books.  The scent of old paper, the smooth slide of the card catalog drawer (yes! the card catalog) were wonderful.  Some favorites I would re-read often.   I read The Swiss Family Robinson every summer for at least five years, much to my family’s amusement.  In college, I would always treat myself to a big, fat novel the minute finals were over.

In recent years, perhaps influenced by the 24-hour news cycle and the constant barrage of information, I have gravitated more toward non-fiction.  I’ve read lots of history, politics, social commentary, economics, etc.   While I’ve learned a lot and would make a good Jeopardy contestant, it’s only been the past few months that I realize how long it’s been since I have savored a really great “can’t-put-it-down-lose-yourself in the story” book.  And so, I am now on a quest to rediscover the pleasure of “a good read.”

I had attended two really great events in the past months which have assisted my quest.  The Indiana Humanities Council hosted two author panels last week at the Meredith Nicholson Home in conjunction with the Bouchercon Mystery Conference.  This was a very special opportunity to be part of exclusive, intimate talk with seven nationally-acclaimed mystery authors.  It was such a delightful evening of animated, spirited interchange among the panelists and with the attendees and it exposed to authors I had not read.  I picked up several books, including Hallie Ephron’s Never Tell a Lie which I started reading that evening.  It is a terrific book with a really strong narrative where each chapter draws you into the next.  I am now about to start on Charles Todd’s A Test of Wills, which is the first in series of mysteries, set in England between the world wars.  I was intrigued to find out that “Charles Todd” is actually Charles and Caroline Todd, a mother-son writing duo.

The other event was the inaugural Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Author Awards dinner, very appropriately held in the beautiful Indianapolis-Marion County Central Library.  Nine Indiana authors were recognized for their contributions to the literary landscape in Indiana and across the nation.  I left with several books, and have finished Dear Mrs. Lindbergh by Kathleen Hughes.

And while I am enjoying discovering new books, I must confess that I still like rereading some old favorites.  The other day in an airport I picked up East of Eden by the incomparable John Steinbeck, which means I will soon be on to my favorite book of all time, Theodore Dreisier’s An American Tragedy.  Now that’s “a good read.”

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Fly Into (Not Over) Indiana

October 14, 2009

Written by Richard McCoy, an Associate Conservator of Objects & Variable Art at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Honestly, I don’t work for the IMA’s public relations department, but I can’t think of anyway to tell you about the show that just opened here without sounding just like a “PR Guy.”  Simply put, Sacred Spain: Art and Belief in the Spanish World represents the best any museum has to offer, anywhere in the world. 

 Sacred Spain

From the beauty and significance of the artworks on view, to the scholarship surrounding their context and selection, to the accompanying two-day symposium (which is free and starts this Friday: Sacred and Profane in the Early Modern Hispanic World, to the conservation work done on some of the artworks in the show (both here at the IMA and abroad), to the coordination and effort required to bring here over 70 artworks literally from all over the world, and, finally, to the design of the gallery and the hand-held devices you can use to learn more about the artworks as you experience them, all of this comes together for just three exceptional months right here in Indianapolis.

This exhibition is but more visual and tangible proof that Indianapolis is no longer a fly-over state for the art world; we’re quickly becoming a fly-into state.

As an art conservator at the IMA, one of my main responsibilities is to help make sure the artworks are safe and sound while they travel and are on view — this is a responsibility I share with a host of IMA folks.  My personal experiences with this show were in travelling to Madrid to oversee the packing and transportation of a few artworks from there to here (via a 15-hour truck ride to Paris), and earlier this year I oversaw the photography of The Crown of the Andes, which is in a private collection, and rarely on view.  Spending a few hours in close proximity to the Crown ranks up there as one of the most special days I’ve had working in the museum world.   

The Crown of the Andes ca 1600-1700

But what also makes this show exceptional is that you can see it all free — thanks to a generous donation by the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation. Also, the exhibition and the accompanying catalogue are presented with the collaboration of the prestigious State Corporation for Spanish Cultural Action Abroad, SEACEX.

Finally, to give you some in-depth background about one of the paintings in the show, here’s a video with Max Anderson, the Director and CEO of the IMA, Ronda Kasl, the IMA curator, who for the past 5 or more years has been working to put this exhibition together, talking about one of the paintings in the show, which was conserved right here at the IMA by Christina Milton-O’Connell and Linda Witkowski.

McCoy conserves artworks across all areas of the collection and his research extends beyond the technology and structure of artworks to include artistic intent and execution as it relates to the preservation of contemporary art. His current research includes the investigation of interior channels in African Songye power figures and making conservation public through social media.

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What-are-you-reading-Wednesday: National Book Awards

October 7, 2009

By Kristen Fuhs Wells, communications director at the Indiana Humanities Council

I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t read any of the books up for the 60th National Book Awards, which are six National Book Award-Winning Fiction books from 1950-2008. But if you have, go to www.nbafictionpoll.org to vote for your favorite. It’s the first time the vote has been opened up to the public in the award’s history.

The nominees are:
The Stories of John Cheever, John Cheever
Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
Collected Stories of William Faulkner, William Faulkner
The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor, Flannery O’Connor
Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, Eudora Welty

Which one should be tops on my list?

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Sail the ocean blue…or at least search the Resource Connection

October 5, 2009

“In 1492 Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue …” Many of us learned that rhyme as small children or taught it to our children, but few of us have really pondered the relevance of the man behind the “discovery” of the America. To celebrate Columbus Day, (Oct. 12), we traversed the mighty Resource Connection.

The Resource Connection has a lot of great resources to help you learn more about Columbus, including lesson plans from the National Endowment for Humanities and Center for Innovation in Assessment, and a Seeds of Change Garden online exhibit from the Smithsonian Institute that lets you learn more about the types of food the explorers grew.

Check out these resources and find out more about the man behind the nursery rhyme.