This Roundtable Discssuion will focus on the work of three artists represented in the exhibition entitled Walt Whitman’s Words: Inspiring Artists Today. Moderated by Curator Deirdre Lawrence, Sasha Chavchavadze, Anne Gilman and Susan Newmark will discuss how aspects of Whitman’s writings inspired their work with a focus on geography, history and the legacy of his words in art.
2019 is the 200th birthday year of Walt Whitman (1819-1892), who is known today as one of the most influential poets of the nineteenth century. In addition to his work as a poet, Whitman is also remembered as a book designer and printer, essayist and journalist. Calling himself “the Bard of Democracy”, Whitman broke the mold in his prolific writings calling for equality, inclusivity and a more humanist world for all to live in.
About the Curator:
Deirdre E. Lawrence is Curator of Books/ Principal Librarian Emeritus of the Brooklyn Museum where she built the artists’ book collection and wrote extensively about the Museum’s collections and history. Previously she was Associate Librarian at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She has been a professor at Pratt Institute’s School of Information and a Board member at the Center for Book Arts. She currently serves on the Walt Whitman Initiative Board of Directors.
Deirdre has curated and co-curated several exhibitions including Walt Whitman & the Art of the Book: Contemporary Visions (Poet’s House, 2015), Hand, Voice & Vision: Artists’ Books from Women’s Studio Workshop, (Grolier Club, 2010-2013), Open House: Working in Brooklyn (Brooklyn Museum, 2004), Cultural Signposts: Art and Text Together Through the Ages (Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, 2001) and Artists Books (Brooklyn Museum, 2000). She has written extensively on Walt Whitman and his influence on art including an essay in Camerado, this is no book: echoes of Whitman, an exhibition at Pratt Institute (edited by Jenni Crain 2018) and led Dialogues in the Visual Arts: Walt Whitman the legacy continues in the Book Arts, a panel discussion held at the Brooklyn Public Library, April 2016.
About the artists:
Sasha Chavchavadze’s mixed-media drawings, paintings and installations focus on forgotten history and its effect on memory and place. Her project, Museum of Matches, translates Cold War history into visual forms. In the Battle Pass Series she explores conflict and memory by evoking the often-forgotten Revolutionary Battle of Brooklyn. Her study of forgotten, holistic aspects of early Modernism, such as affordability and broad access to the arts, led to the Useful Objects series. Disappearing culture is explored through images of lost and found objects in the Excavations series. Chavchavadze’s current work, Crosswords/Crewel Work, highlights the words and imagery inspired by forgotten women mentors, with a focus on the American Transcendentalist writer Margaret Fuller in the Margaret Fuller Rome Project.
Anne Gilman is a Brooklyn-born artist whose large-scale drawings and multi-panel projects map information, thought, and emotion. Current projects include scrolls made on mulberry paper and works mixing layers of pigment, text and ink. Gilman has received fellowships from the Edward Albee Foundation, The MacDowell Colony, and The Chenven Foundation and has had her work featured in Hyperallergic, Art Spiel, Bomb Magazine, Guernica Magazine, Publishing Perspectives, Prattfolio, and the Spanish-language magazine, Literal. Her work has been shown nationally & internationally, including solo exhibitions at Casa Cristo (de Luís Barragán) /Mexico, Galería Raúl Martínez/Cuba, University of the Arts/Pennsylvania and Instituto Cervantes/NYC, and is in the collections of The National Museum of Women in the Arts, The Brooklyn Museum, The New York Public Library, Azerbaijan Museum, and The Library of Congress. She teaches in the graduate program at Pratt Institute and was awarded a studio through the Cultural Space Studio Program in Dumbo, Brooklyn.
Works on paper and unique artists books by Susan Newmark integrate collage, acrylic paint, photo imagery, layered fragments from popular culture, and found objects in an exploration of narrative, storytelling, place, memory, nature, and the human body. Ms. Newmark has had solo exhibitions at the Figureworks Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the Garrison Art Center in he Grand Army Plaza Library in Brooklyn, and at the galleries of Long Island, John Jay and St. John’s universities. She was selected by curators for a show at the Southampton Cultural Center in Long Island ,and a two person show at St. Joseph’s College. Her work has been in many group exhibitions including those at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Parrish Museum, Brooklyn College, the Center for Book Arts ‚and Gallery North in Setauket, N.Y. Ms. Newmark has had residencies at the Lower East Side Printshop‚ the Women’s Studio Workshop and the Byrdcliff Arts Center, and is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Vermont Studio Center, Lower East Side Printshop, the Center for Book Arts, and the Bio Medical Library of the University of Southern California. She was the guest curator for Rare Editions: The Book as Art at Lehman College Art Gallery/City College of NY, and was the Deputy Director for the Visual Arts and Arts-in-Education at the Abrons Arts Center Henry Street Settlement. She coordinates Dialogues in the Visual Arts, a series of conversations with artists, at the Brooklyn Public Library previously at Tribeca Performing Arts Center ,and teaches collage and mixed media to adults. She was a board member of the Center for Book Arts and Elders Share the Art, is on the advisory committee of the Kentler International Drawing Space and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
The Center for Book Arts is marking this bi-centennial by looking at how Whitman’s writings have influenced contemporary artists working in the book arts. Walt Whitman’s Words: Inspiring Artists Today follows several themes Whitman focused on in his writings, providing the connective tissue that links these works together. Geography, history, identity and immigration are a few themes that emerge from the works of art on view. Whitman’s fascination with Ancient Egypt, photography as a branding tool, and his notion of the world as he imagined it are all evident in the art on view. These diverse objects range from books, drawings, photographs, sketches, broadsides and a scroll.