Thursday, August 13, 2015


Fall/Winter 2015 – Exhibitions and Public Programs

Address: 87 North Main St., Oberlin, Ohio 44074

Galleries remain open until 8 p.m. during our monthly evening hours. A free program is presented in the King Sculpture Court, followed by a reception with light refreshments in the East Gallery. 

September 3, 5:30 p.m.
Artist Jim Dine continues his long association with the Allen Memorial Art Museum in a conversation with John G.W. Cowles Director Andria Derstine that coincides with the exhibition Body Proxy. Dine’s first solo exhibition was held at the Allen in 1965, during a residency at the invitation of Ellen Johnson. In 2005, the retrospective Jim Dine, Some Drawings originated at the AMAM.

In addition to his public talk, Dine will assist with the installation of his large assemblage, Five Chicken Wire Hearts (for James Peto), in the Ellen Johnson Gallery.

A reception on September 3 is co-sponsored by the Oberlin Business Partnership.

October 1, 5:30 p.m.
In a talk titled “How a No. 2 Pencil Designed my Life,” D’Wayne Edwards tells how he escaped a dangerous neighborhood southeast of Los Angeles to design shoes for such athletes as Michael Jordan and Derek Jeter. Edwards did work for Nike, L.A. Gear, and Skechers prior to launching a design school.

November 5, 5:30 p.m.
Photographer and guest curator Laura Larson ’88 speaks about 
Hidden Mother, the exhibition of 19th-century child portraits in which mothers were concealed while holding their offspring still during long exposure times. Larson is an associate professor of photography and integrated media at Ohio University.

December 3, 5:00 p.m.Join us for classical guitar music performed by students from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Guitarists will play music relevant to the theme or time period of the works on view in several galleries. The program is presented in collaboration with Stephen Aron, classical guitar instructor at Oberlin. Come and immerse your senses! Co-sponsored by the Oberlin College Administrative & Professional Staff Council.


Body Proxy: Clothing in Contemporary Art
Ellen Johnson Gallery, September 1-December 13, 2015
 As part of the AMAM’s yearlong focus on the human body, this exhibition presents works that use clothing as an art material or subject matter.
Due to their intimate associations with the body, articles of clothing function as powerful metaphors for the human condition. Clothes offer their wearers warmth and protection, while also communicating valuable information about public identity and status. Even when discarded, clothes retain poignant traces of the individuals to whom they once belonged, and become stand-ins—or proxies—for the human body. 
 This selection of sculpture and mixed media works ranges from 1960 to the present. Drawn from the amam collection as well as a number of loans, Body Proxy highlights works by 30 international artists, including Joseph Beuys, Jim Dine, Leonardo Drew, Robert Gober and Doris Salcedo.
 Psycho / Somatic: Visions ofthe Body in Contemporary East Asian Art
John N. Stern Gallery, through June 5, 2016

Artists in and from East Asia have contributed much to global contemporary art. This exhibition examines divergent ways of thinking about the body—from physical vehicle to transcendent symbol—and how our perceptions are created in large part by the culture in which we live.

In Asian thought, the body is often understood in many ways and on multiple levels simultaneously. A number of the works examine the mind-body relationship found in esoteric Buddhist traditions, and how it can reveal an individual’s larger dimensions, through visual quotations from religious imagery. Other works reference the physical body—its biology and appearance—as well as the body as a representation of identity, or the roles played by an individual in society. Many of the works may be interpreted from all of these perspectives. The exhibition also features a 15-minute video that relates the emotion of anger, as embodied by the wrathful Buddhist deity Yamantaka, with the neurophysical reactions that occur in the body.

Hidden Mother
Ripin Gallery, August 14–December 23, 2015
Early portrait photographers employed a number of devices—from pedestals to pincer-like braces—to stabilize the bodies of their subjects during long exposures. But these methods often were not suitable for the small, unruly body of a child. Instead, the photographer enlisted the mother, who, hidden by studio props, supported or soothed her offspring. Examples of this fascinating practice of the 19th century and the little-known genre of “hidden mother” photography include tintypes, cartes-de-visite, cabinet cards, and other mediums.

Transformation: Images of Childhood and Adolescence
Ripin Gallery, August 14–December 23, 2015
This exhibition features works from the amam collection that take as their subject infants, children, and adolescents. Just as significant physical and emotional changes occur over the years spanning infancy to adolescence, artists’ representations of children have shifted dramatically over the centuries, using their subjects as illustration for a variety of ideas about family, art, and society. From formal, sacred presentations of the Holy Family to intimate portraits of beloved offspring that capture innocence and its loss, these works evoke the nostalgia and deep sentiments associated with childhood and chronicle the transformation that occurs in the development toward adulthood.

The Body: Looking In and Looking Out
Ripin Gallery, August 14–December 23, 2015
Instruments of perception and discovery—lenses, mirrors, cross-sections, and vanishing points—appear throughout this selection of more than 40 works from the amam collection and on loan from the Oberlin College Library’s Special Collections department, the Science Library, and the Clarence Ward Art Library. Presented side by side, works by visual artists and philosophers of natural science offer insights into ways of knowing and representing the corporeal nature of existence. 

Ranging from old master prints to sculptural assemblages, the objects in this exhibition ask us to examine the relationship between truth and our ideas about the truth. They ask us to imagine what can be known but never accurately portrayed. And they ask us to examine the technologies and media that—in turn—look at us.

Return of the Dragon
Through June 5, 2016, South Ambulatory and King Sculpture Court
Visitors of all ages will enjoy the symbols, stories, and spectacle of dragons in a new installation of works from East Asia. Dragon-themed works in a diversity of mediums—from silk scroll paintings to carved ivory and porcelain jars—are on view. Most notably, Coiling Dragon, a large bronze that has been a perennial favorite of the AMAM’s Asian collection, has returned to the sculpture court.

Dragons appear in East Asian folk tales, mythology, and all of the region’s major religious traditions. Unlike the fire-breathing, gold-hoarding, maiden-kidnapping variety in Western mythology, in East Asia the dragon is most often a positive symbol as harbinger of rain and controller of floods and storms. In imperial China, the dragon also served as the preeminent symbol of the emperor. Return of the Dragon highlights the enduring legacy of dragon imagery and symbolism in Asian art.

F R E E   P U B L I C   P R O G R A M S

Second Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m
Tea and cookies follow each talk. Topics relate to the museum’s yearlong focus on the human body.


September 8
Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian Polina Dimova explores the modernist fascination with synaesthesia: the mixing of sensory modalities, for example the perception of musical sounds as colors. Dimova will focus on amam works by František Kupka and Wassily Kandinsky to show how modernists blended painting, music, touch, and space.

October 13
“From Yarn to Garment” is the topic of a talk by Betsy Bruce, who teaches this popular course during the winter term at Oberlin College, which introduces many aspects of traditional weaving, culminating with a fashion show and exhibition at the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts (FAVA). 

November 10 
Want to know more about the verses of poetry now visible in the King Sculpture Court? Professor of English T.S. McMillin discusses the American Transcendentalist movement and its most prominent members, including the minister, artist, and poet Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813–1892), whose most widely known poem, “Enosis,” is reproduced on eight canvases in the clerestory of the sculpture court.

December 8
Wendy Kozol, professor of comparative American studies, speaks in conjunction with 
The Body: Looking In and Looking Out. The exhibition focuses on the human body and how we know about it, whether through a mirror, microscope or other instrument of perception, or via our philosophical ideas about corporeal existence.

Saturday, October 31, noon–3 p.m., East Gallery
Art activities for the whole family will be available, and guided tours of the museum galleries will be offered. Education staff and student docents will be on hand to get you started. These programs are created especially for local families, to increase exposure to the visual arts for learners of all ages.

Talks begin at 2 p.m., King Sculpture Court
Fall semester talks begin on September 13 and run through December 6 (except October 18, October 25, and November 29). Each student-led session focuses on a work on view in the galleries and lasts about 15 minutes, followed by time for questions and answers.

Open houses are now held on the first Sunday of the month only. In 2015, the house will be open from noon to 5:00 p.m. on September 6, October 4, and November 1. The house will reopen on Sunday, April 3, 2016. Presentations on the architecture and history of the Weltzheimer-Johnson House begin on the hour. Admission is $5.00 per adult. 

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