Write Outside Your Window
Write Outside Your Window was the beginning of something special for Wilmington this year. As concerts and small gatherings continue to pop up in the small city, this workshop-open mic hybrid managed to accomplish something different. In the eyes of small children, bystanders, and aficionados of poetry, I saw a shared sense of happiness and joy to be outside again. No matter the skill or level of talent, everyone had something to share, either about themselves or the city of Wilmington. Being one of the first events for people to attend outside of their homes, this one was definitely a great way to start things off. –Christian Wills
Inside Look lecture series 2021
On September 19 and September 24, Kristen Nassif, an Art History doctoral student at the University of Delaware, led “Inside Look” gallery talks at the Delaware Art Museum on Randolph Rogers’s sculpture Ruth Gleaning (c.1850). The sculpture depicts a poignant moment from the Old Testament, when Ruth, who remained to help her husband’s mother following his death, is gleaning wheat, or gathering leftover bits of grain following the main harvest. She looks up to see Boaz, a wealthy landowner who, in turn, admires her loyalty, selflessness and great beauty. They fall in love and marry and inaugurate an important bloodline. Attendees were enthralled and eager to discuss what made Ruth’s story such a compelling subject for artists in the late nineteenth-century and how Rogers was able to carve from mute stone such a dramatic moment in Ruth’s life, the pivot between widowhood and marriage and between penury and enduring distinction as the great grandmother of King David. The lingered to look closely and took note of the artistic tension between idealized elements, like Ruth’s face, and realistic features like her fingers, toes and hair, and to speculate on changing historical notions of womanhood
Ruth Gleaning, c. 1850. Randolph Rogers (1825–1892). Marble, 47 × 26 × 26 inches, base: 20 × 28 × 28 inches. Private Collection, Delaware, Courtesy of Art Finance Partners, LLC.
Embroidery Examined and Explored
This pair of talks, held on April 9 and April 11, encouraged attendees to closely consider Marie Spartali Stillman’s embroidered tunic and shoes, on display at the Delaware Art Museum for the exhibition, Collecting and Connecting, Recent Acquisitions, 2010-2020. The discussion was led by Lea Stephenson, a PhD student a PhD student in Art History at the University of Delaware who specializes in Gilded Age art and especially the ways that art can engage the senses. Participants, more than five dozen, were highly engaged, resulting in a wide-ranging discussion touching on Stillman’s Pre-Raphaelite context, the gendered ways that art history gets written, the ways in which some art forms, such as embroidery, are relegated to amateur status, and even on to dialogues about ways to write more inclusive explanatory narratives in museum settings. Several descendants of the artist were in attendance and offered insights into Stillman’s family and their dedication as patrons of the art. The conversation benefitted from the intimate anecdotes on the Spartalis interest in horticulture and gardening and the artist’s own surviving collection of embroidery and silk.
Embroidered Shoes, not dated. Marie Spartali Stillman (1844-1927). Embroidery on silk, each: 4 1/2 × 3 × 10 1/2 in. (11.4 × 7.6 × 26.7 cm). Delaware Art Museum, Gift of Eugenia Diehl Pell, 2016. Photograph and digital image © Delaware Art Museum.
School of Music Collaboration with Autism Delaware
UD Music Theory students developed a close working relationship with Heidi Mizell, Family Resource Coordinator for Autism Delaware. Student representatives from our class met Heidi in person at the Route 9 Library and Innovation Center, which has a sensory space specifically designed to help children with autism focus on reading. Students developed a project that would benefit children with autism in the State of Delaware by helping them access the same types of participatory musical experiences that other children benefit from, including the ability to listen to children’s songs with pleasure, attention, and most importantly, participation (e.g., singing along). One of the challenges faced by members of this community is that people with autism respond in different ways to different levels and types of stimulation. Further, students learned that processing challenges often make it difficult to sing along with music at normal speeds. In response, my students are creating modular arrangements of children’s songs (based in part on feedback from an informal survey of parents who are involved in Autism Delaware) that are slow enough to sing along with, and that allow for real-time listener interaction. As users listen, they can add, subtract, and recombine musical tracks by pressing buttons on a controller being designed by UD computer science professor Dr. Matthew Mauriello. Working with Dr. Mauriello, we have developed an initial working prototype and musical design that the students will use next semester as they continue to compose new arrangements of children’s songs for use in the sensory room.
HIST 460/660: Race and Inequality in Delaware
Mr. Woolford gave a lecture in the HIST 460/660: Race and Inequality in Delaware class on Tuesday, September 7, 2021; and he led a walking tour of the New London Road neighborhood on Saturday, Sept 11, 2021. These were a both tremendous successes, getting the students up to speed with a ready and engaging example of research into African American history in Newark, and then providing them with an opportunity to explore the built environment and history of Newark’s oldest free Black neighborhood. Both experiences have been generative for students as they formulate their own projects.
Solos@Home II: A Virtual Dance Competition
13 junior high and high school students attended 4 virtual workshops & choreographed solos for this competition. Solos@Home II continued to reinforce DDEO’s mission of supporting and advancing dance education centered in the arts while connecting with important community issues and expanded on the first model, Solos@Home (which took place in the fall of 2020) by offering registered participants mentoring in lighting design and costume design and study with an expert in the selected topic theme of Environmental Justice. An April showcase that highlighted the choreography and announced the competition winners was attended by a virtual audience of over 30 households.