IU College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni talks focus on art, both modern and ancient

  • March 31, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Two notable alumni of the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington will return to campus this week for a pair of arts-related events -- one distinctly modern, the other focused on the ancient world.

On Wednesday, April 2, renowned fine-arts photographer Jerry Uelsmann (MFA, 1960) will join Maggie Taylor, his wife and fellow photographic artist, for a lecture and discussion about their uniquely creative process. Their talk, "Thoughts on the Creative Process," will begin at 5 p.m. in Presidents Hall, located inside Franklin Hall.

The cutting-edge approaches of these two artists are similar in that both use photographic images as components or building blocks, layering and arranging those images to create evocative, often surreal works of art.

The artists differ, though, in technique. Uelsmann, widely recognized as the father of photomontage, does his magic in the darkroom, using traditional photographic negatives and a variety of enlargers. Taylor employs more contemporary means, using digital technology -- including Photoshop, scanners and a digital printer -- to create her painterly works.

Uelsmann's work has earned him international acclaim for six decades. His surrealistic, dreamlike images have been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. His works grace the permanent collections of many museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Chicago Art Institute and the Bibliotheque National in Paris. His 1967 one-man show at MOMA was a watershed event that helped change the public’s perception of photography by showing that it could be used not merely as a tool to document reality but as a medium for artistic expression.

Much more than a mere discussion of technique, however, this lecture will allow both artists to explore their shared reliance on intuition and improvisation to create their arresting images. Their work also will be on display at Pictura Gallery, 122 W. Sixth St., in downtown Bloomington through May 31. They will attend a reception at the gallery from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 3.

Also on Thursday, Marion Werkheiser (BA, 2000), an attorney who specializes in preserving and protecting the treasures of ancient cultures, will speak on the topic, "The Fight Against Cultural Racketeering: Exposing the Global Black Market in Looted Art and Antiquities," at 5 p.m. at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, 416 N. Indiana Ave.

Cultural racketeering -- the organized, mass-scale looting and smuggling of art and archaeological artifacts -- has exploded in recent years. Global criminal networks are taking advantage of political unrest in Egypt, Syria and other countries to systematically rob priceless cultural heritage and, in many cases, imperil the economic sustainability of communities that depend on cultural tourism. 

In Egypt alone, more than $2 billion in antiquities has been looted since 2011. In her lecture, Werkheiser will explain the international legal frameworks that govern cultural heritage preservation and reveal the dynamics of the underground trade in art and antiquities. She will also discuss efforts under way to combat cultural racketeering.

Werkheiser is co-founder and managing partner of Cultural Heritage Partners PLLC, a Washington, D.C.-based law and lobbying firm that focuses exclusively on cultural heritage issues, the first firm of its kind. In addition to their international work, Werkheiser and her colleagues advocate with Congress and federal agencies to increase protections for domestic cultural heritage, including shipwrecks and significant historic and cultural sites across the country.

While in Bloomington, Uelsmann and Werkheiser will be among six recipients of the College’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards, all of whom will be honored at the College Alumni Awards Dinner on Friday, April 4. Seats for the dinner are still available; online registration and more information are available on the event website.

Jerry Uelsmann

Jerry Uelsmann

Print-Quality Photo

Marion Werkheiser

Marion Werkheiser

Print-Quality Photo

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