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Charlotte Hendrix

NBC News: School Petition Compares Classroom Pride Flag to Confederate Flag

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Alabama high school petition compares pride flag to Confederate flag

An anonymous group of students and parents in Auburn, Ala., have signed a petition to have a rainbow pride flag removed from a high school classroom. The petition claims the flag is insensitive to students who do not support LGBTQ rights and compares it to the Confederate flag.

CBS News: Meet the Southern, African American artist who paints the Confederate flag

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Meet the Southern, African American artist who paints the Confederate flag

CHARLESTON, Va. — Leo Twiggs, a son of the South, sees life as a series of crossings. That’s why the 83-year-old artist has spent four decades painting a recurring symbol: The Confederate flag. He has finished hundreds of them. He says he paints the Confederate flag as a symbol because he thinks “the South is full of contradictions.

The New York Times: A Guide to the Charlottesville Aftermath

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A Guide to the Charlottesville Aftermath

Since a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, news developments have continued at a torrid pace. If you are just catching up on the aftermath of the weekend’s events, or are overwhelmed by the volume of news, here is an overview of The New York Times’s coverage.

Installation of Leo Twiggs: Requiem for Mother Emanuel

Immanuel: A Symposium

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On June 17, 2015 when Dylan Roof entered Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina he was entering the oldest African American church in the South, the home of the first independent black denomination in the United States in a city that was central to the slave trade in the United States. Roof, a young white man, murdered nine African American members of a Bible study group, sparking a series of events that brought the city, the state, and the country together long enough to finally drive state governments to take down from public buildings the battle flag of Northern Virginia, more commonly known as the Confederate flag. There were more than just political ramifications. Artist, Dr. Leo Twiggs said, “What I feel is that the tragedy changed our state in a way that I had not seen before. I think for us that was a shining moment where people came together not because of the color of their skin, but because of the humanness in their hearts. I think for the first time we started communicating heart to heart instead of head to head.” Twiggs responded with a series of nine batik paintings that chronicles a narrative of violence and redemption that not only refers to the Mother Emanuel massacre, but also serves as metaphor for the broader African American religious experience in this country.

“Immanuel: A Symposium” will take place at JCSM on the afternoon before the opening of Leo Twiggs: Requiem for Mother Emanuel. It will provide the opportunity to discuss the African American church, and its historical and contemporary role as both sanctuary and location for civic and political activism. Taking the exhibition as point of departure, the objective of the symposium will be to explore the history of the black church in the U.S., and to open a discussion about the historical intersections between the Christian conversion of enslaved Africans, and the metaphorical and real church as location and catalyst for spiritual and political redemption. “Immanuel,” the Hebrew word for “God is with us,” gave Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church its name, and the concept of “Immanuel” offers a powerful point of departure for both the artwork of Dr. Twiggs and the broader themes the Symposium will explore. The symposium will consist of four talks and a panel discussion leading up to the opening artist talk. JCSM has been deliberate in choosing a scholar who can address the history of the African American church both nationally and in Alabama, a scholar from Charleston, and scholars from the local community.

The symposium has been made possible in part by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Auburn University Special Lectures Fund.

Auburn University’s Mosaic Theater will perform.

“Under Their Own Vine and Fig Tree: African Americans and the Church in Southern History”

Presented by Dr. Richard Bailey, Alabama historian and retired research specialist

“We Are Charleston”

Presented by Dr. Bernard E. Powers, Jr. Professor of History, College of Charleston

Following this presentation, there will be a break.

“‘The Most Segregated Hour in America’: Churches and Social Justice Across the Color Line, from the Civil Rights Era to the Present”

Presented by Dr. David Carter, Associate Professor of History, Auburn University, and Dr. Johnny Green, Assistant Vice President for Outreach in Student Affairs, Auburn University

Following this presentation, there will be a panel discussion and a break. 

“Requiem for Mother Emanuel,” Dr. Leo Twiggs, Professor Emeritus, South Carolina State University

Dr. Twiggs’s lecture will shed light on his conceptualization and resolution of works in his exhibition of nine batik paintings he made in response to the June 17, 2015 massacre in Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and to its aftermath and far-reaching consequences.

Opening reception for Requiem for Mother Emanuel immediately follows.

Collection Spotlight: Dale Kennington

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JCSM fondly remembers artist, patron and friend, Dale Kennington, at her passing in this special edition of Collection Spotlight.

Funeral Services will be at: First Methodist Church, 1380 West Main Street, Dothan, AL 36301, Friday May 5, at 11:00 a.m. Visitation will be at the church from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 am.

Dale Kennington
(American, 1935–2017)
A Question of Survival, 2005-2007
Oil on wood panel, skeleton-key lock mechanism, and hidden text in graphite
Gift of Dale Kennington

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

The folding screen is perhaps the best of all possible vehicles for Dale Kennington’s art. Its very nature as a pleated, 3-dimensional object allows subtle and transient visual effects to take place, enhancing the complex objectives Kennington pursues in her “flat” work. Kennington’s narrative tableaus have always operated on multiple levels. She evokes a feeling of certain familiarity with the subjects of her paintings, of identification with a place or group or time. “I’ve been there, I know those people,” are comments often heard uttered before Kennington’s work, even when the painting is a compilation of disparate elements or a recreated private memory of the artist. Yet, it’s not only her compositional details—places, people, objects—that elicit that kind of déjà-vu experience in their viewing. Kennington’s evocative portrayal of light and atmosphere, one of the means by which she summons a mood, brings about a more visceral sense of shared experience. “I’ve felt that” is a response in many viewers. Her images often emerge from pervasive darkness in scattered bits and pieces, with Kennington guiding the viewer’s awareness of the composition’s features through careful choice and placement of colors. She directs a viewer’s perception of a painting through both skillfully rendered realism and deliberate ambiguity.

In A Question of Survival, one side of the six-panel screen presents a desolate landscape distinguished chiefly by an apparently abandoned, yellow automobile in the corner of an empty parking lot. The car’s doors are flung wide open, suggesting a hurried departure by its occupants. The painting’s nearly impenetrable mass of dark green foliage is oppressive and foreboding. Other landscape elements, stormy-blue clouds and blacktop pavement, offer equally negligible cheer. Lines painted across the tarmac and curbing echo the widely scattered, spindly light poles, each contributing to the painting’s overall bearing of forlorn unease. With a stage set thusly, Kennington’s composition on the opposite side of the screen takes on correspondingly ominous overtones. There, a vacant interior’s emerald-green walls now seem grave and obstructive, like their landscape counterpart. Box flaps and yellow closet doors in the room are ajar, revealing the absence of contents. The interior’s gold-hued moldings recall the empty grid plotted across the screen’s exterior vista. And finally, the painting’s solitary figure, a young girl dressed in a sky-blue top and asphalt-black slacks, stands alone in the deserted room. Her attire invokes an association, in color at least, with the troubled landscape.

The screen’s dual or flip-sided nature is all-important. Kennington cleverly weaves the two compositions together, back-to-back, necessitating a playful cat-and-mouse game by the viewer to chase the meaning of the entire work. Were the paired images separated for display flanking each other, as a diptych on a wall, much of the work’s intrigue and challenge would be lost. As a two-sided screen, Kennington proscribes no definite order or sequence for their viewing: no front and back, nor first and last. A viewer might draw a very different reading if he studied the interior scene containing the figure before encountering the landscape. Additionally, Kennington exploits the folded screen façade to produce a result that cannot be appreciated in a flat reproduction on the printed page. It must be experienced dynamically. The screens’ accordion-like surfaces reveal different aspects when approached in the round. Seen from a particular angle, Kennington’s painted figure drops from sight into a fold of the screen, only to reappear with a change in the viewer’s position. Architectural planes such as floors, walls and staircases make similar shifts, transforming perspectives as the observer walks around each screen.

Kennington’s pictures are never what they seem at first glance. They are cagey constructions, reticent to disclose their meaning despite a proliferation of clues. Adding further to their mystery, Kennington incorporates hidden vaults within the screens. She has carved a secret chamber into one panel on each of the works. Therein, behind small locked and camouflaged doors, Kennington placed handwritten notes on paper with comments relevant to each painting. The message hidden away in the clouds on A Question of Survival reads:

I am kind

to animals

He is polite

to strangers

She is distracted

with family

They are convivial

with friends

We are a danger

to ourselves

and to others

Installation of Poppy Bouquet by Tenneson

Collection Spotlight: Joyce Tenneson

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Joyce Tenneson
(American, b. 1945)
Poppy Bouquet, 2003
Edition: 5/25
Archival pigment print, printed in 2014
Museum purchase

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

Joyce Tenneson is an award-winning photographer who has authored more than a dozen books of her work during the course of a career exceeding four decades. In the late 1990s, American Photo ranked her among the ten most influential women photographers in the history of the medium. Examples of her work have been published in Esquire, Time, and New York Times Magazine, and her original prints are collected widely by museums.

Photograph of poppies

Tenneson’s portraits of women and men, young and old, posed and natural, attempt to reach beyond obvious studies of surface to uncover the inner person behind the façade. Reflecting the artist’s deep spirituality, her images resonate with both a sense of the sitter’s individuality and reveal some aspect of her own personal history. Both of her parents were employed at a convent, so she and her sister spent their childhood among this religious order participating in daily and seasonal rituals. Tenneson has noted it is that sense of the mysterious and enigmatic that continues to shape her work.

Installation of Poppy Bouquet by Tenneson

This is equally true of her portraits of flowers, where she captures the blossoms as “distinctive personalities” that are as exceptional and as alive as her human subjects. In images such as the one here, she has immortalized the flowers at the height of their beauty, while in others cases she documents a very different aspect of beauty by recording their inevitable decay. This ethereal bouquet with sensually intertwined stems floating against the mysterious emptiness is very representative of the artist’s work in its depiction of beauty, magic, and otherworldliness.

The symbolic references associated with the beautiful but fragile poppy are wide ranging. Ancient Egyptians included the plant at funerals and in burial tombs. The Greeks used poppies in the shrines of Demeter, goddess of fertility, but they also reference them in various mythological tales for their powers to induce sleep and repose. Almost one hundred years ago poppies became an emblem of remembrance for those who died in WWI. And who can forget in the Wizard of Oz the scene of Dorothy and her friends falling into an opiate-induced slumber in the poppy field as the Wicked Witch gazed into her crystal ball and repeated the word “poppies” over and over?

In anticipation of Auburn’s celebration of 125 Years of Auburn Women, curators will campaign to acquire work by women artists, thus adding to the 54 females currently represented in the collection. Learn more.

Logo celebrating 1892-2017 and Auburn women
Pen and ink drawing depicting Bacchus with a faun and satyr.

Collection Spotlight: Jean-Jacques François Le Barbier

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Pen and ink drawing depicting Bacchus with a faun and satyr.

Jean-Jacques-François Le Barbier,
called Le Barbier l’aîné (French, 1738–1826)
L’Offrande à Pan (The Offering to Pan), ca. 1770
Pen and ink with various shades of brown washes
Museum purchase with funds provided by the 1072 Society, 2015

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

Jean-Jacques François Le Barbier, called Le Barbier l’aîné (the Elder), demonstrated artistic talent at a young age, winning two first prizes at the École des Beaux-Arts of Rouen at seventeen. He moved from his native Rouen to Paris to study under Jean-Baptiste Marie Pierre at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. Between 1761 and 1768, he traveled extensively in Italy (several drawings document his time in Rome). In Switzerland in 1776, he worked with Pierre-François Pâris and Claude-Louis Châtelet on Zurlauben’s travel guide, Tableaux de la Suisse ou voyage pittoresque fait dans les treize cantons du Corps Helvétique, executing drawings of views, monuments, and costumes. After returning to Paris, he was elected to the Academy in 1780, and became an Academician in 1785, exhibiting regularly at the Salon between 1781 and 1814. In the period between 1806 and 1810 he focused on religious themes and subjects of Royalist inspiration. His most famous work was a representation of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, a fundamental document of the French Revolution, which he illustrated in 1789.

Bacchus with a faun and satyr

The present drawing illustrates a tendency in Neoclassicism that art historian Robert Rosenblum called “Neoclassical Eroticism.” The discovery of the frescoes at Pompeii in 1748 introduced a new sensuality in French art. Erotic subjects inspired by the antique were combined with themes emblematic of the Rococo, an exaltation of pleasure and flesh. This drawing is a prime example of Le Barbier’s work, circa 1770–75, and can be compared to a pair of oval drawings in the Louvre, titled Baccanale, depicting Bacchus with a faun and satyr, and L’Offrande à Venus, signed and dated 1769, which exhibit his characteristic use of contour in black ink with brown washes and small curvilinear touches in the interior of figures that define volume and mass. It can also be compared with a drawing that is a design for a candelabrum depicting a nymph and two satyrs on the base. Le Barbier used the subject of The Offering to Pan several times, but in each drawing he employed a very different composition.

Artwork installed for the 1072 Society 2015, including La Barbier (The Elder)
Modernist print with fracturing natural forms and space into mosaic-like patterns.

Collection Spotlight: Maltby Sykes

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Maltby Sykes
(American, 1911–1992)
At Market, 1949
Edition: 36
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University;
Gift of Barbara Pritchard

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

Maltby Sykes traveled to Mexico City in 1935–36 to assist Diego Rivera in mural production at the Hotel Reforma. He had been accepted as Rivera’s assistant due, in large part, to a letter of recommendation from his print publisher, George Miller of New York.

Like so many others, Sykes wished to be a part of, and learn from, the painting “renaissance” that was taking place in Mexico. He had previously spent time painting in Taxco and would return there in the late 1940s, the period in which these two lithographs were produced. Sykes was attracted to the hilly landscapes of Guanajuato, canals at Xochimilco, and city squares of both urban and rural settings, which he often rendered in faithful naturalism. He was also keenly interested in Cubism. Many of his paintings and prints, such as Organitos and At Market, reflect that modernist approach, fracturing natural forms and space into mosaic-like patterns. Sykes was a long-time professor of art at Auburn University and honored as Emeritus Professor in 1977.

Modernist print with fracturing natural forms and space into mosaic-like patterns.
Installation of El Alma Mexicana with At Market
Installation of Robert Cottingham's alphabet letters JCSM in JCSM at 10 exhibition.

Collection Spotlight: Robert Cottingham

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Robert Cottingham
(American, born 1935)
Four prints from An American Alphabet
J, 2003 C, 2010 S, 2007 M, 2002
Edition: 7/40 Edition: 7/40 Edition: 7/50 Edition: 10/40
Color lithographs
Museum purchase

By Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions

One of the most important painters to arise in the 1970s among a loose confederation of artists known as Photo-Realists, Robert Cottingham extends the rich tradition of American Realism in works that simultaneously evoke a sense of nostalgia for an era long past while operating on a cooler, and more formal, abstract level. His compelling art draws equal influences from the emotional cityscapes of John Sloan and Edward Hopper as from the geometric arrangements of Stuart Davis or Frank Stella.

Installation of Robert Cottingham's alphabet letters JCSM in JCSM at 10 exhibition.

After starting a career in advertising in the early 1960s, Cottingham devoted himself full-time to painting by the end of the decade and quickly gained success through exhibitions at O. K. Harris Gallery in New York, the leading advocate for the new trend of photorealism. Cottingham early on focused his attention on city facades, and most frequently created largescale depictions of commercial signage. He explained his fascination with the subject: “Commercial signs are amazing. Here are these elaborate, monumental structures designed solely to tell you that this is where you can buy a hamburger or pack of cigarettes.… All that effort, all the pomposity just to sell you something. And yet, they are a heroic attempt by someone to leave his mark.” His closely cropped and sharply delineated vignettes of movie marquees, department store facades, diners, and other familiar architectural forms resonate in a distinctly American voice.

Cottingham began working in printmaking in 1972 and discovered a medium that provided an important outlet of expression, often allowing him to experiment in themes and variations before rendering them in paint on canvas. An American Alphabet marks one of his longest running series of prints, an abecedary of twenty-six lithographs begun in 1994 and slated for completion in 2012.

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Upcoming Events

Thu 14

A Little Lunch Music: Fall 2017

December 14 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Thu 21

Museum Open: Seasonal Hours of Operation 2017

December 21 @ 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
Fri 22

Museum Open: Seasonal Hours of Operation 2017

December 22 @ 10:00 am - 4:30 pm