News of the College May 2005

Events at Reed: Here are some of the events
going on around campus this spring

Russian Days
March 22–April 5

Valaam ensemble imageRussian Days at Reed College explored early 20th century Russian politics, literature, and the arts through a series of special programs including lectures on Stalinist musical comedy, Soviet Realism in the 1930s, a concert of traditional religious and folk music, a poetry reading of absurdist Russian works in translation, and a symposium on Russian Jews and Modernity.

"When we are looking at the Russian culture of the 1920s and 1930s, we find stunning cultural achievements rising from the society drenched in blood," notes Evgenii Bershtein, Russian professor and organizer of the events. Russian Days examined the often tragic Russian encounter with modernity in the context of Stalinist tyranny, where all too many Soviet citizens and creative artists were both victims and executioners, both the persecuted and oppressors.

The high point of the event was a performance by the Valaam Ensemble, the celebrated quintet of male singers from the Valaam Monastery in northern Russia. The performance featured traditional folk songs, liturgical hymns, and chants from the musical traditions of northern Russia.

"Feast the Eye, Fool the Eye: Trompe l'oeil and Still life Paintings
from the Oscar and Maria Salzer Collection"

March 11–April 24

The third of this year's four exhibitions in the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, "Feast the Eye, Fool the Eye" was drawn from the single finest collection of trompe l'oeil and still life paintings in the United States. Spanning three centuries of European and American art, the exhibition was organized by the Trust For Museum Exhibitions, Washington, D.C.

"Trompe l'oeil painting is distinguished by several important representational conventions," noted Stephanie Snyder, director of the Cooley Gallery. "In order to create the illusion of an actual space, the scene must be entirely self-contained with the frame of the painting — no partial views of an object or environment are shown, as the digression of the picture would instantly reveal to the view that the space is not an actual one."

Snyder adds that trompe l'oeil paintings "are almost always painted at life-size, reinforcing the illusion that the viewer has rather miraculously stumbled upon a collection of ephemera, a taxonomic specimen, or a small art work tacked to the wall." She notes that one of the most captivating elements of the genre is the representation of other paintings, drawings, engravings, and stamps—works of art within works of art.


feast the eye image
Evert Collieri (Dutch), 1693, Composition with Engraving of Erasmus of Rotterdam, oil on canvas, 25x30 in.

Excerpt from original song cycle by David Schiff
April 15

Reed professor of music and nationally known composer David Schiff, along with mezzo-soprano Milagro Vargas, performed "Music is the Food of Love." It was followed by a commentary on Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art" by Schiff and Reed English professor Ellen Stauder on the interconnections between American music and poetry David Schiff's "All About Love," which premiered in July 2004 with Chamber Music Northwest, is a song cycle which examines love from many angles: straight, gay, jealous, wise, tender, heated. His unusual inspirations for the songs include sonnets by Petrarch and Louise Labé, poems by Keats, Martina Tsvetaeva and Elizabeth Bishop, and passages from Melville's Moby Dick and Proust's Swann's Way.

This performance explores composer David Schiff's exquisite re-visioning of Bishop's masterpiece on love and loss. Schiff writes, ""Music is not only the food of love, but love's mirror as well. I have been fascinated by the way composers have depicted amorous and erotic feelings in operas, songs.... All About Love is something of a cross between a song cycle and a chamber symphony.... I chose the poems to illustrate the many phases, the ecstasies and the agonies, of falling in and out of love. ... In terms of style, the music reflects my desire to break down the wall between ‘art song' and ‘popular song.'"

Acclaimed installation artist Ann Hamilton
April 11

hamilton imageAnn Hamilton's temporal, poetic works on the nature of language and the body have defined contemporary installations art over the last 20 years. While at Reed, she met with students and talked about her creative process, which involves research into the political, socio-geography, and economic history of the place, getting to know the people who live and work there, and collecting metaphorical and poetic materials that can serve as linguistic devices. She described her work as collections of bodies of knowledge and discussed her most recent installation projects, including The World Languages Center at the Seattle Public Library, "Corpus" for Mass MOCA, and the Tower Project in San Francisco.

Hamilton's lecture will explore several of her recent projects including "Corpus" at Mass MOCA, her commission for the Seattle Public Library and the Tower Project in San Francisco.

In"Corpus", motorized paper dispensers released and blew paper over the vast museum space while speakers whispered hypnotic words through the space. This haunting work made one profoundly aware of the lack of written words on the paper as the sound of words and paper flew threw the air and piled on the floor over the many month of the exhibition.

Hamilton's visit was made possible through the Stephen Ostrow Distinguished Visitors Program in the Visual Arts and was funded by a generous 1988 gift from Edward and Sue Cooley and John and Betty Gray in support of art history and its place in the humanities. End of Article


Reed Magazine May 2005