Ellie Ga: Artist in Residence (2020-22)

Still from Strophe showing messages in bottles

Still from Ellie Ga, Strophe, A Turning (2017) 2 channel video, loop (37:00)

In collaboration with the Center for Visual Culture, Special Collections welcomes artist Ellie Ga to campus virtually (during the current school year) and in person with a residency (as soon as that is possible). While in residence, Ga will “comb” Special Collections in the process of producing a new work of art, commissioned for the College. Before then, she wants to connect with us by sharing her work and conversing with community members as she gets to know Bryn Mawr. 

The first virtual event is a screening of her piece, Strophe, A Turning (2017, 37 min.), with a virtual studio visit and conversation between the artist and Bryn Mawr faculty members Lisa Saltzman (History of Art) and Madhavi Kale (History).

Please visit our related website to learn more about all Ellie Ga related events and activities at Bryn Mawr College as they are scheduled.

Please also view Sayed, a work by Ellie Ga, made available by the artist and her gallery through the Center for Visual Culture’s Virtual VIsual Culture event series.

***

Ellie Ga (b. 1976) is an American artist living in Sweden. Her work is included in collections at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Bard College. Her most recent work, Gyres 1-3 (2019), was a commission for the Whitney Biennial and was reviewed in The New York Times and Artnews. Art historian Tom McDonough (SUNY-Binghamton) wrote about it for the fall 2019 issue of Osmos Magazine.

Ga works between memoir, travelogue, and visual essay connecting ideas and presenting them as multichannel videos or performances with live narration. Her recent film Gyres 1-3 (2019) looks at water as the site of political exile, religious pilgrimage, and forced migration across the Aegean Sea. Her working process is a kind of “beach-combing” that embraces chance encounter with artifacts and how they find their way to her. It involves extended periods of research, including conversations with people in roles, such as museum directors, scholars, or Arctic explorers. Her interests are interdisciplinary and cross-temporal. She speaks of her work as a collection of chance encounters, what is lost (and accrued) in translating between spoken and written words, and archaeological discovery.

Ga will be in residence at Bryn Mawr College twice during the 2021-22 academic year and virtually throughout the 2020-21 school year. Throughout this process, we hope you will join us in a collective note-keeping practice, responding to your own experience of Ga’s work and the chance encounters you collect along the way. 

Triarte: Newly Improved!!!

Since Spring Break LITS staff and students (Megan Sligar (PhD candidate CNEA), Kaylee Verkruisen (Graduate Student, HART), Esme Read ‘22 and Katie Perry ‘21) have been working to upgrade our online collections database with a new server, software and expanded cataloging.  Upgrading the software gave us more robust features for the user. 

New or Greatly improved features include: Browse by Donor, Exhibitions, Publications and User Portfolios. The Advanced Search has been enhanced and the Advanced Search of Artists (including ULAN biographies), Exhibitions, and Bibliography is new.  Additionally, Donor Biographies, an Enhanced Bibliographic Section with Images of Comparanda and a Conservation Section for some Object Records are all new.

Browse by Exhibition lists Exhibitions that Tri-Co Objects have been in on campus and at outside institutions internationally. Within the exhibition you can find things like the objects exhibited, installation views, and catalogs.

Here you can see information about the recent conservation of The Bibliophile; Accession Number: 2011.6.121. The conservation report and technical study conducted by The University of Delaware/Winterthur Museum Art Conservation Program are included along with images before, during and after the treatment.

 

 

We hope you will take the time to explore Triarte.brynmawr.edu and let us know what features you would like to see expanded and what features you find most helpful.

Remembering Jane Martin

Photograph of Jane Martin and workers at Nyema Smith's sugar cane production in Liberia (April 15, 1976); Catalog Card written by Jane Martin (c. 2000) from The Jane Martin Papers, Bryn Mawr College Archives

Photograph of Jane Martin and workers at Nyema Smith’s sugar cane production in Liberia (April 15, 1976); Catalog Card written by Jane Martin (c. 2000) from The Jane Martin Papers, Bryn Mawr College Archives

Special Collections remembers Dr. Jane Martin (Class of 1953, MA 1958), the generous donor of a significant collection of African Art and related papers from her professional work in Liberia, who died on April 14. After graduating from Bryn Mawr with two degrees, Martin went on to earn her PhD in African History from Boston University in 1968. Her research focused on the Glebo of Eastern Liberia, and many of her interests there are reflected in the archives she donated to the College, including material on specific individuals in the Kru tribe, African women and their roles in education and society, and governmental and non-profit organizations in Africa.

Martin lived and worked in West Africa for several years, teaching African History at the University of Calabar in Nigeria and the University of Liberia in the 1970s. Her papers demonstrate her careful thinking about how to teach history and what to teach, as well as research interviews she conducted during this time. From 1984 to 1989, she was Executive Director of the United States Educational and Cultural Foundation in Liberia, administering the Fulbright Program and other cultural exchange programs. She was a strong advocate for binationalism between the US and Liberia for all of her life, continuing this work at the African-American Institute in New York, when civil war forced Martin to leave Liberia in 1989.

Throughout her travels in Africa, Martin collected a wide variety of art and cultural objects, some 150 of which she donated to the Art & Artifacts Collection at Bryn Mawr. These include helmet masks danced by women of Liberia’s Sande society, Ashanti gold weights, baby carriers, toys made by the artist Saarenald T. S. Yaawaisan from recycled flip-flop sandals, and a Baule Chief’s chair. She documented her collecting with various field notes, photographs, and correspondences, all of which serve to enrich the gift of objects immeasurably.

Works from Martin’s Collection have been featured in exhibitions organized by students since their arrival at the College in 2016, including On Selecting: Profiles of Alumnae Donors to the African Art & Artifacts Collection (Spring 2017) and Mirrors & Masks: Reflections and Constructions of the Self (Spring 2017). These materials are regularly used in courses across a variety of fields at the College.

To learn more, visit:

The Jane Martin Papers Finding Aid in College Archives

The Jane Martin Collection in Art & Artifacts

Bauhaus at Bryn Mawr: Museum Studies Praxis Intern Organizes Fall Exhibition

by Rachel Grand (BMC ’21)

Rachel Grand (BMC '21) stands next to an Egyptian Byzantine textile on view in the exhibition ReconTEXTILEize (Spring 2019).

Student curator Rachel Grand ’21 at opening of ReconTEXTILEize, the 360 course cluster’s exhibition that helped prepare her to organize her own exhibition this fall.

I began my internship with Special Collections as part of the Museum Studies Praxis course, where students find placements in local museums for a practical learning experience. I was placed with a History of Art PhD candidate, Nina Blomfield, who is curating an exhibition in the fall on Lockwood de Forest’s decorative arts program for the College. My initial assignment was to help with her research, but it grew into an opportunity to curate my own smaller exhibition in conjunction with hers on Marcel Breuer, another artist commissioned to design furniture for the College. Compared to my past internships, I felt extremely fortunate for this opportunity with Special Collections because of the real responsibilities that were entrusted to me. In this internship, I felt that the research that I produced for Nina was valued and impactful, and the exhibition that I was able to curate myself, has taught me an invaluable amount about curatorial work.  Because of the research opportunities afforded to me in Special Collections, I learned more about the history of Bryn Mawr College than I ever expected to know about my temporary home. 

Lockwood de Forest was a designer and architect who first came to Bryn Mawr College in the 1890s. His boss, and friend, was none other than M. Carey Thomas, for whom he designed and decorated a significant portion of her residence and other parts of campus. De Forest is not a well-known name nowadays among students and facultycompared to M. Carey Thomas, so it was surprising to learn that his architectural touch is all over the College, from the campus center and health center, to the ceiling of the Great Hall! When I walk around on campus now, knowing the history of the buildings enforces a sense of home. While reading correspondence between de Forest and Thomas, I got a sense of Thomas’ strong will, in regard to both interior decoration as well as the future of the college, which provided me with an educated perspective, amidst the controversy surrounding the renaming of Old Library. 

The second artist that I studied, Marcel Breuer, was commissioned for a specific project on campus. When Rhoads was built in 1937, he was approached by the college to design a set of furniture for the new dorm rooms. Marcel Breuer was a famous designer and architect who was trained at the Bauhaus, a radically modern art school in Weimar Germany.  

In order to learn more about Breuer’s furniture, I looked through the college’s archives. As I searched, I could not help but notice how the College used to place an emphasis on Bryn Mawr being “male friendly. The yearbook from 1939 boasted that women who lived in Rhoads were more likely to be engaged (to men) than any other dorm. Photographs of students in Rhoads dining hall in the 1960s depicted at least one man in each group of smiling students.  

I am told that the student body here has changed in recent years and learning more about the college’s history has only confirmed that. Today, Bryn Mawr students would not tolerate M. Carey Thomas, her elaborate expenditures, nor yearbooks boasting their marriageability. It was very impactful to be able to situate myself, as a student, in the timeline of Bryn Mawr’s past through this research at Special Collections.  

Rachel’s exhibition, Bauhaus at Bryn Mawr: Marcel Breuer’s Furniture for Rhoads, opens October 24 in the Coombe Suite Display Case on the second floor of Canaday Library.

 

On Gardens Speak by Tania El Khoury

Student Intern Tanjuma Haque

Tanjuma Haque (BMC 2021)

REFLECTION by Tanjuma Haque (BMC 2021)

Even though I had already seen the set-up of Gardens Speak before and knew what was going to happen, the moment I stepped in through the doors, everything felt completely alien. The lights were dim on the two pews where the ten of us went and sat as the guide handed us one card each person.

As I entered the space where the garden with the graves was made, honestly, I was scared for a moment or two. Since we all had to take off our shoes before we entered the space, the soil was cold under my bare feet as I searched for the person’s grave whose headstone’s picture was on my card.

The humming noise clarified into words as I dug the soil near the headstone with my hands. I put my head next to the pillow with their name, in front of the headstone, and lied and listened quietly. I heard Mustafa’s narrative of how everything was before and after he died, spoken by a man in the first person.

I had taken a Middle Eastern Politics class last semester and I had seen movies from the Middle East that showcased the different uprisings and killings and I knew about the conflicts, but those were nothing compared to when I heard, what seemed to me, Mustafa’s voice, speaking about how he died with many others when a missile struck a peaceful rally and that his girlfriend came and saw him in pieces and that he wanted to say that he loves her, but he no longer could.

I am not a very emotional person and I did not cry then, but when I was writing the letter to Mustafa, I thought that he probably could see me write the letter or something. Later, I went to Tell Me What I Can Do and that is when I almost cried when I saw so many letters full of hope and prayers and support for all the martyrs.

Gardens Speak, possibly the best live artwork I have seen, was a phenomenal experience. From my perspective, it is an extraordinary piece of art, it has the ability to bring people from different parts of the world, with different beliefs, religions, and races, together because nothing motivates love more than the sense of unfair loss. When we, the audience, write letters to the martyr, we all get bound by the same affection.

 

On Assisting with Gardens Speak & Camp Pause during ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury

Photo of Intern Author, Rachel Adler

Rachel Adler (BMC 2021)

REFLECTION by Rachel Adler (Class of 2021), Sept 24, 2018

This past week of training and working on Camp Pause and Gardens Speak has been both exciting and slightly overwhelming in the best way. I started off training for Gardens Speak, but had not realized how jarring it would be to see a piece- especially one I’ve been so thrilled to experience in real life- behind the scenes. Seeing how many people and elements go into the piece makes it more authentic and meaningful in a unique way. I have yet to experience Gardens Speak as an actual showing, but I am eager to see how it differentiates from merely training around it- the different lighting, smells, and feelings that I know I will experience because I was told just how it all happens.

The Camp Pause Training was significantly shorter and more tech-based, but it was also nice because it was the training where I got to see Tania El-Khoury again. It’s interesting to hear how objects in the piece, such as the colorful little chairs, are put there with a specific purpose, for more than just for sitting. The chairs and their coordinating cords were specifically made those colors, and invoke feelings of childhood. The type of chairs are children’s chairs in Palestine and Lebanon. All of which I wouldn’t have known and didn’t know until Tania explained it in training, which I thought was a lovely bonus. Art is always purposeful in what it does, says, and expresses. I felt similarly with the Gardens Speak training and learning that the dirt is sprayed with an earthy essential oil, and flowers are thrown onto the audience while they rest on the graves. These little aspects of the overall piece shape it and make it special.

I have worked both the Camp Pause and Gardens Speak pieces at this point and feel a sort of peculiar feeling watching audiences going into an exhibit and walking out. I feel that particularly with the Gardens Speak piece, there is an intimate, unspoken element of trust required from the artist and the audience. Trust that the audience will respect the piece, trust that they will not make it about themselves, and I feel that this trust is not necessarily always kept up on the audience’s part. Hearing audience members leave the Camp Pause piece, saying things like, “That made me so sad,” and “What a depressing video,” feels selfish and lacks the maturity to realize that as a viewer, you only experience something that is someone else’s entire life for 10 minutes, something which you don’t have to live with once you leave the exhibit space. I suppose that is the side effect of interactive pieces, because self-centered people will turn an interactive piece and make into how they feel about their own lives, their own political climates, when that’s not what these pieces are about. But the beauty of the pieces are their interactivity and the ability to turn an issue that feels remote- like the Syrian war or the Israel-Palestine conflict- and make it feel next door to a viewer, and personal. Humans empathize with other people when they feel like individuals rather than masses, and that’s why pieces like Camp Pause and Gardens are so important.

On Meeting Tania El Khoury…

Image

REFLECTION by Maya Stucky (Class of 2020)

I applied to intern with artist Tania El Khoury for both personal and academic reasons. As the daughter of a Lebanese immigrant, I feel deep-rooted connections to the country and what occurs within its borders. I make a conscious effort to be aware of its triumphs and of its downfalls, and the presence of refugees in Lebanon has, in my experience, caused controversy. Thus, my involvement in El Khoury’s work is my own personal way of combatting that controversy and being part of the exploration of Middle Eastern politics.

The first thing I noticed about El Khoury is that everyone in a room with her seems to be drawn to her – not only as an artist but also as a person. She has this fascinating energy to her that makes you want to learn more about her or just listen to her speak. She exudes authenticity and warmth. Originally, I could not tell if I felt this energy simply because I feel an innate connection to all Lebanese women because of my own Lebanese heritage, but as I observed the rest of the room and spoke to other interns, it seemed to me that everyone else was just as intrigued. Her presence is not stately and intense, as she truly is very humble and kind, but she radiates strength and knowledge in a way that has you hanging on to every word she says. Conversely, just as El Khoury’s interns attempt to get to know her better, she is doing the same with us. She cares deeply for her work, her subjects, and her audience and wants to ensure those who are representing her and guiding her audience can do so in the appropriate way.

In terms of discussing her work, El Khoury is incredibly particular and precise about every detail about her pieces and the acquisition of her material. Where she falls short, especially in terms of accessibility, she recognizes and seems to be making a conscious effort to create a sensorium that attempts to include all audiences. Accessibility at Bryn Mawr is something that is constantly being brought up, and I think El Khoury was impressed by the students’ advocacy for the utmost amount of inclusion possible. Although she is incredibly particular in her work, I believe she appreciates that her works lose effect the less accessible they become.

I truly am so excited to work with El Khoury in the fall. I know that she has much to teach us about her work, her inspiration, and all the various factors that go into the production of live art. Through her work I hope to grow and witness the growth of her audience through such cathartic and important stories.

Madonna and Child by Romare Beardon goes on loan

Madonna and Child by Romare Howard Bearden 1945 Oil (?) on canvas 38 in. x 30 in. (96.52 cm x 76.2 cm) Gift of Roy R. Neuberger and Marie Salant Neuberger, Class of 1930 (1948.3)

Bryn Mawr College’s painting Madonna and Child by Romare Bearden will be in an upcoming exhibit at the Neuberger Museum of Art open from September 10, 2017 through December 22nd 2017.  For more information about the exhibition see their website: https://www.neuberger.org/

 

 

Crafting and Visualizing Models: Photogrammetry at Bryn Mawr – by Danielle Smotherman Bennett

Cover of the Training Manual

On June 6th-9th, Mark Mudge (President), Carla Schroer (Founder and Director), and Marlin Lum, (Imaging Director) of Cultural Heritage Imaging (CHI) visited Bryn Mawr College and trained interested recent alumnae, students, faculty, and staff in Photogrammetry for Scientific Documentation of Cultural Heritage through a four-day workshop.  Mark, Carla, and Marlin were a wonderful and welcoming team that made photogrammetry very understandable and accessible to a group with a widely disparate set of skills. CHI is same group responsible for the creation of Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI), a type of computational photography utilizing a movable light source on an unmoving surface with a static camera position that was introduced to the study of objects in Special Collections in 2014. RTI is used presently in Bryn Mawr College’s collections and in many other institutions world-wide. CHI’s training and standards for photogrammetry are another important effort of this group for creating practical methods for digital imaging and preservation that will now be available at Bryn Mawr College.

Model as a mesh showing the position and angles in which photographs used in the model were taken.

For those of you who have not previously encountered photogrammetry, it is a type of computational photography, or digitally captured and processed images, that combines a series of carefully captured images to produce precise 3D surface data. While the technology has been around for awhile, photogrammetry has improved over the years through refined camera technologies and techniques, as well as through improvements in the software. The process is relatively quick, once you know what you are doing, portable, and uses standard photography equipment. All of these factors make it a very accessible technique to an archaeologist such as myself, both for fieldwork as well as for travelling to specific museums and sites in the future. The resulting models can be measured with a high degree of accuracy, even when the subject is not present or even available in the future. Objects may not be accessible to scholars for a variety of reasons, varying from being in a closed museum, located across the country or even the world, as well as for more dire reasons such as if an object has been lost, damaged, or completely destroyed.

Carla lecturing the first day of training

Trainees attending a lecture

Camera set up and Mark showing Zach Silvia, Sarah Luckey, and Del Ramers how to adjust the settings through the laptop

The trainees at this four-day workshop included individuals from collections management, librarians, digital scholarship specialists, anthropologists, and archaeologists, as well as others who joined for specific lectures. In particular, many of us were interested in the use of photogrammetry for the study of artifacts, architecture, sondages, and even bones, to create models. These scaled models can be used to measure features of these objects, to accurately record condition, to allow for more direct comparisons between scaled models of objects, as well as to serve as a digital archive for the future. As an archaeologist who studies Greek vases, objects which are spread out in museums and private collections around the world, can be sold and moved, lost, or broken, and often have limited angles in published photographs, it was very important for me to learn to create accurate models and to understand how to identify the inaccuracies I encounter in models as part of this training.

Casey Barrier getting photographs of the bottom of a vessel

The training divided into lectures and practical lessons, which consisted of both camera shoots and computer processing of the images. The practical lessons featured us breaking up into groups, so that everyone could get hands-on experience. Most of the training took place in the Carpenter Library, with excursions around campus to shoot particular objects as the subjects of our practical lessons. These objects include the two casts of reliefs and books in Carpenter Library, a plaque and marble sarcophagus in Thomas Cloisters, two vases in Special Collections, and the marble bench outside of Dalton. The diversity of subject objects provided us with experience in capturing images for photogrammetry in a variety of settings and with objects of varied scale that each required their own problem-solving.

Carla showing trainees (Caroline Vansickle, Sarah Luckey, Marianne Weldon, Zach Silvia, and Danielle Smotherman Bennett) how to adjust camera settings before a large project

Those of us who own personal Digital SLR cameras learned how to capture images for photogrammetry on our own cameras, but others used the cameras owned by CHI or Bryn Mawr College. The other equipment we used included a remote switch, remote flash(es), a monopod, a tripod, color card, scale bars, and a turntable, although not all of that was required for every shoot. For instance, at times we could use the ambient lighting, especially outdoors, but other times we needed to use flash or two in order to create an even illumination over the object surface. Similarly, we could only use the turntables occasional since a turntable is only practical for small, movable, and light-weight objects. Occasionally we used other materials, such as when we had to find make-shift back drops to cover reflective backgrounds, or use white foam board to reflect light.

Mark observing the creation of a model by one team (pictured: Matthew Jameson, Camilla MacKay, Del Ramers and Alicia Peaker)

After pre-processing the images through Adobe Bridge, we produced models through the use of Agisoft Photoscan Professional and the very capable Visual Resources computers. The resulting models and data can be shared with scholars around the world through as the models themselves through photogrammetry software, but also as 3D PDFs, which can be viewed in many PDF viewers. Thus, along with being a method of digital archiving of these objects, photogrammetry models can also provide more accessibility to collections.

Along with learning about how to capture and create accurate photogrammetry models, Mark, Carla, and Marlin also taught us about creating and sending verifiable data with our models. One aspect of this is generating a report within the photogrammetry software itself that contains information as to the camera information, number of images, camera locations, camera calibration, scale, error, and processing procedure and time. Another aspect is the importance of recording the process in a Digital Lab Notebook, which can be sent along with the data itself and the report to scholars looking at or using the model. This recording process includes not only the camera specifications, which are already included in the report, or only the subject of the project, but also who was involved, what equipment was used along with the camera, where and when the images were captured, and other possibly significant information.

Through the very capable training we received, we can now share the methodology that we have learned with others in the community. We can also apply the methodology and use the resulting photogrammetry models to our own research. Photogrammetry for scientific documentation has many implications for the future study of objects and architecture, in which Bryn Mawr College can now take part.

 

De-Installation of Presidential Portraits in Thomas Great Hall

IMG_8558(1) IMG_8550The presidential portraits that hang in Thomas Great Hall were de-installed today to protect them during repair work on the building’s roof. Professional art-handlers were hired to take the paintings down, to pack them, and then transport them off campus to climate-controlled art storage. The portraits will return in November of 2016.

More information about the portraits can be found here: http://triarte.brynmawr.edu/PRT537IMG_8578

IMG_8574    IMG_8583