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[Wesleyan University]

[Reunion & Commencement Exhibitions]

[Reunion & Commencement Weekend May 21-24, 2009]


Global Warning: Artists and Climate Change

Nina Felshin, curator

In conjunction with Feet to the Fire, Wesleyan’s 18–month climate change initiative, Zilkha Gallery will present an exhibition that explores this phenomenon though the lens of visual artists. Although many have collaborated with scientists, social scientists, planners and architects, the aim of Global Warning is to increase awareness of climate change through challenging content that is laced with poetry and aesthetic power. The show includes works in a variety of media from the past three decades by Marion Belanger, Lorraine Berry, Diane Burko, Nancy Cohen, Helen and Newton Harrison, Chris Jordan, Aviva Rahmani, Lenore Malen, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, and Frances Whitehead.

Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery Thursday–Sunday, Noon–4 p.m. & Friday, Noon–8 p.m.

Judith Joy Ross: Photographs

Clare I. Rogan, curator

Judith Joy Ross once described the effect of her photographs as an “emotional journey.” Using a large format, 8 x 10 inch view camera, she creates luminous portraits of ordinary people. The humanity of her subjects, their trust in the artist, vulnerability and strength shine through these images. Looking at the portraits of public school children, visitors to the Vietnam Memorial, and contemporary protesters against the Iraq War, we recognize our common hopes and fears.

Davison Art Center Thursday–Sunday, Noon–4 p.m.

China—Balancing the Changes: Photographs by Sharon Crain

Patrick Dowdey, curator

Sharon Crain’s photographs of China present a personal view of the changes she has seen since her first visit in 1977. Her respect for Chinese people and her desire to learn and, if possible, to help led her to develop a deep sympathy and understanding of Chinese people which comes through in these images. Her remarkable photographs document the changes she witnessed. The exhibition is part of the Center for East Asian Studies’ commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China.

Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies Thursday–Sunday, Noon–4 p.m.

The Meaning of Liberty: Wesleyan and the Civil War

This new exhibit will explore the Civil War and its impact on Wesleyan University, including the nearly 300 students and alumni who served in the military. One group of Wesleyan students joined immediately after the war began and formed what became Company G of the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery. Others signed up with hometown groups, including two dozen students who fought for the Confederacy. The exhibit will detail some of these stories, as well as what the campus and classes were like during the Civil War years. Using historical materials from the Wesleyan University Archives, including photographs, diaries, letters, and scrapbooks, the exhibit will help bring some of Wesleyan’s most fascinating and difficult years to life again.

Olin Library

This exhibit is being staged in conjunction with the Middlesex County Historical Society’s “Hard and Stirring Times: Middletown and the Civil War” exhibit at the General Mansfield House, 151 Main Street

Frank Capra Directs Hollywood’s Leading Men

Frank Capra (1897-1991) began his Hollywood career as a gag writer, working first for Hal Roach and then Mack Sennett. He was hired by Columbia Pictures in 1927, and shot his first film in twelve days (THAT CERTAIN THING, 1928). Capra went on to direct some of the most popular and successful films that came out of Hollywood in its “Golden Age,” including LADY FOR A DAY (1933) IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934), MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936), LOST HORIZON (1937), YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU (1938), and MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939). The success of Capra’s films moved Columbia from its status as a “Poverty Row” studio to one that engaged the major studios in serious competition. Not many directors could match Capra’s string of hits—all but one of his films between 1933 and 1939 received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, or both. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT won the first Academy Award “Grand Slam”—Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture. Capra also won an Academy Award for directing MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN and YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU. Capra’s success meant that he could pick and choose his stars, not only from Columbia, but from other studios, as well. Everyone wanted to work with Capra. This exhibit highlights four of the lucky few in their unforgettable performances in what have become iconic films: Clark Gable (IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT), Gary Cooper (MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN,) James Stewart (MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON), and Frank Sinatra (A HOLE IN THE HEAD, 1959.) All of the items in this exhibition are from the Frank Capra Archive of the Wesleyan Cinema Archives. This exhibition is presented together with a summer film series of four of Frank Capra’s memorable films: IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, and A HOLE IN THE HEAD and is sponsored by the Wesleyan University Film Studies Department, Middletown’s Downtown Business District, the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Middletown, with support from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism.

Rick Nicita Gallery, Center for Film Studies Friday, Friday, May 22, 10am - 6pm; Saturday, May 23, 9 -11 a.m. (a private viewing for guests of the Film Studies Open House);  Saturday, May 23, 11am - 6pm.