DORIAN: Rereading Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray
November 3 – December 10, 2017
Artists: Robert Blanchon, Jim Dine, Eve Fowler,
and Storm Tharp
Writers: Oscar Wilde and Sara Jaffe
Scholars: Jay Dickson, Daniel A. Novak,
and Kimberly J. Stern
November 3, 5:00pm–7:30pm
Symposium participants in attendance
November 4, 10:30am–3:30pm
Psychology Bldg. room 105
Luncheon included, no reservations required
Presentations by: Daniel A. Novak, Kimberly J. Stern, Sara Jaffe, Storm Tharp, and Eve Fowler
Oscar Wilde’s 1890 novel The Picture of Dorian Gray is a rare work that chronicles an Orphic descent into art’s symbolic “soul,” examining the nature of human-object relations with fearless imagination and fantasy. Written during the waning of the Victorian era, the novel presents a morbid case study of “Art for art’s sake,” the mantra of Aestheticism articulated by Walter Pater in the late 1860s.
In keeping with Wilde’s philosophical, social, and aesthetic critique, the artists in Dorian examine art’s capacity to figure and expand the representation and expression of the self—through art, and as art—in response to moral and political issues as critical today as they were in Wilde’s time.
The larger exhibition project assembles artists, writers, and scholars for a public conversation with symposium attendees. A commissioned work of fiction by writer Sara Jaffe accompanies the exhibition.
The first edition of Dorian Gray was published in London in 1890 in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. In Victorian England, the work’s portrayal of same-sex desire caused a swift and angry response—so much so that Wilde was forced to significantly alter the work before it could be released in book form in 1891.
Eventually, the novel was used against Wilde during two of his three trials for “gross indecency.” On May 25, 1895 Wilde was convicted and sentenced to two years of hard labor at Reading Gaol, where he wrote one of his greatest works—De Profundis—an epistolary reflection on his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas. Weakened by prison and penniless, Wilde died of meningitis in 1900 at forty-six, a victim of social and legal prejudice.
During the Cooley’s November 4th symposium, Portland-based artist Storm Tharp and writer Sara Jaffe will present their work alongside: Eve Fowler, Los Angeles-based artist; Daniel A. Novak, Associate Professor of English, University of Mississippi; and Kimberly J. Stern, Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The symposium is organized and facilitated by Jay Dickson, Professor of English and Humanities, Reed College; and Stephanie Snyder, John and Anne Hauberg Director and Curator, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College.
The symposium is generously supported by the Department of English, and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty.
Exhibition curator: Stephanie Snyder, John and Anne Hauberg Curator and Director, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery
Image: Storm Tharp, Cadre (detail), 2017. Ink, fabric dye, acrylic paint, charcoal, and spray paint on paper, 30 x 22 in. each. Courtesy the artist and PDX CONTEMPORARY ART
The exhibition and all related events are free and open to the public.