Exhibit | Stephen Mopope Paintings

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A chance discovery returns the color and life to indigenous paintings

Ninety years ago, in 1926, a small group of traditional artists from the Kiowa nation—Spencer Asah, James Auchiah, Jack Hokeah, Stephen Mopope, Lois Smoky and Monroe Tsatoke—entered the University of Oklahoma to participate in a specialized art program designed to encourage their development and promote their work. Later known as the “Kiowa Five,” these artists made their international debut in 1928 at the First International Art Exposition in Prague, and were soon showing their work in other countries. Their exhibition at the Venice Biennial in 1932 was noted, according to author and art teacher Dorothy Dunn, as “the most popular exhibit among all the rich and varied displays assembled” there.  In 1929, a portfolio of pouchoir (stencil) prints was created by a fine arts publisher in Nice, France under the title Kiowa Indian Art, which helped bring their art to a wider audience.

The eldest and most prolific of this small group of Kiowa artists was Stephen Mopope (Qued Koi, or Painted Robe), grandson of the warrior Appiatan and grand nephew of the artists Haungooah (Silver Horn) and Oheltoint.  Mopope was 28 when he arrived at the University of Oklahoma, but his work as an artist had been nurtured from a very young age. His great uncle, Haungooah, recognized his talent and taught him traditional techniques. Later, at the St. Patrick’s Mission School in Anandarko, his art teacher, Sister Olivia Taylor (Choctaw), further supported his artistic development. Mopope’s art portrays the traditional dance, music, and ceremonies of the Kiowa people, reflecting the world in which he lived. He was a skilled practitioner of many elements of traditional culture, including flute-playing, ceremonial dance, and farming, all of which became ongoing subjects of his paintings. In 1939, Mopope received a commission to paint the mural “Ceremonial Dance” for the Department of the Interior’s Udall Building, where it is still viewable today, as part of a New Deal agency project.

A few years ago, while going through some old boxes in the stacks of the John Hay Library, a staff member came across seven of Mopope’s original paintings in an old print collection. Their bold colors and unique subjects popped out even through layers of dust and grime. How Brown University acquired these paintings is not recorded, but they were recently cleaned and restored. Please come see the remarkable beauty and spiritual presence for yourself. A selection of four of these paintings will be on view on the second floor of the John Hay Library until the end of November 2016 in honor of Indigenous People’s Day.

Dates: October 14 – November 30, 2016
TimeJohn Hay Library Hours
Location: Second Floor, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Event | In the Mountains of Madness: A Reading with Author W. Scott Poole

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On Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. in the Lownes Room of the John Hay Library, W. Scott Poole will give a reading from his new book, In the Mountains of Madness: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of H. P. Lovecraft. A discussion will follow the reading. This event is free and open to the public. The book will be available for purchase before and after the event.

IN THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS (SEPTEMBER 2016, 978-1-59376-674-4)

In the Mountains of Madness interweaves the biography of the legendary writer with an exploration of Lovecraft as a phenomenon. It aims to explain this reclusive figure while also challenging some of the general views held by Lovecraft devotees, focusing specifically on the large cross-section of horror and science fiction fans who know Lovecraft through films, Role Playing Games, and video games directly influenced by his work, but who know little or nothing about him.

From a childhood wracked with fear and intense hallucinations, Lovecraft would eventually embrace the mystical, creating ways in which his unrestrained imaginary life intersected with the world he found so difficult to endure. The monsters of his dreams became his muses. Yet, Poole insists that Lovecraft was not the Victorian prude who wrote “squishy monster stories for boys.” Rather he was a kind of neo-romantic mystic whose love of the 18th century allowed him to bring together a bit of Isaac Newton with a bit of William Blake in a real marriage of heaven and hell.

More than a traditional biography, In the Mountains of Madness places Lovecraft and his work in a cultural context, as an artist more in tune with our time than his own. Much of the literary work on Lovecraft tries to place him in relation to Poe or M.R. James or Arthur Machen; these ideas have little meaning for most contemporary readers. In his provocative new book, Poole reclaims the true essence of Lovecraft in relation to the comics of Joe Lansdale, the novels of Stephen King, and some of the biggest blockbuster films in contemporary America, proving the undying influence of this rare and significant figure.

About W. Scott Poole

Poole, scott (c) Leslie McKellar (1)W. Scott Poole, who teaches at the College of Charleston, has written widely about American history, horror, and pop culture. His books include Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror and his award-winning history Monsters in America, which received the John G. Cawelti prize from the Popular Culture Association and was named among the “Best of the Best” by the AAUP for 2011. Poole is a regular contributor to Popmatters and his work has appeared in the Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches, and Killing the Buddha.

Date: Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Alumni Reunion Forum | The Vietnam War: Our Veterans’ Stories

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Please join the Library for an Alumni Reunion Forum on Saturday, May 28 from 3 – 4:30 p.m. in the Willis Reading Room at the John Hay Library. Professor Beth Taylor, Co-Director of the Nonfiction Writing Program, will moderate a panel of alumni veterans and family who will discuss their memories from the Vietnam War. This event is sponsored by the Brown University Library, Brown Alumni Association, and the Nonfiction Writing Program, Department of English.

Some of them attended Brown with the help of ROTC and they all went to the war before the campus protests. Come hear the surprising stories of Brown’s Vietnam Veterans and join in a discussion with alumni whose lives were changed forever by those difficult times.

The Vietnam Veterans of America will present the University Archives with personal artifacts of John Brooks Sherman ’62 (1st. Lt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1962-1966, d. 1966, Vietnam), recently unearthed in Vietnam. Learn about the newly curated Brown Vietnam Veterans Archive and website — featuring flight jackets, commissioning photos, military documents, and love letters.

Moderator:

Beth Taylor, Co-Director, Nonfiction Writing Program

Panelists:

  • David Taylor ’66 (1st. Lt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1971), Real Estate Developer
  • Barry Kowalski ’66 (1st. Lt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1970), Special Counsel for Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice
  • Elaine Zimmer Davis, widow of Jerry Zimmer ’66 (Capt., U.S. Marine Corps, 1966-1969, MIA, 8-29-69, Vietnam)
  • Augustus A. White, III, ’57, MD, PhD (Capt., Medical Corps, U.S. Army, 1966-1967), Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Ellen and Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Medical Education, Harvard Medical School

A corresponding exhibit, also entitled The Vietnam War: Our Veterans’ Stories, will be on display in the Willis Reading Room at the John Hay Library from May 28 – August 19, 2016. The exhibit features photographs, letters, military clothing, and quotations from the Brown Vietnam Veterans Archive to depict how alumni transitioned from Brown to Vietnam and beyond. The Vietnam Veterans Archive preserves the stories of Brown University alumni who served in the military during the Vietnam War through oral histories and personal papers.

Date: Saturday, May 28, 2016
Time: 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Event | Terra Huber on “The Conservation of a 16th Century Papal Bull on Parchment”

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During preservation

During National Preservation Week on Friday, April 29, 2016 from 2 – 3 p.m. in the Digital Scholarship Lab at the Rockefeller Library, Terra Huber, Assistant Paper Conservator at the Northeast Document Conservation Center, will give a talk entitled, “The Conservation of a 16th Century Papal Bull on Parchment.” This event is free and open to the public.

After preservation

A papal bull is an official letter or charter issued by a pope of the Roman Catholic Church, named after the bulla, or authenticating lead seal, affixed to the document. Papal bulls are handwritten on parchment, a historical writing surface prepared from animal skin that presents unique challenges to the conservator. This talk will focus on the history, materials, production, and conservation treatment of a papal bull from the collection of the Brown University Library. The Brown University Library’s papal bull is dated to 1580 and was issued by Pope Gregory XIII, the pope responsible for introducing the Gregorian calendar which we use today.

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Terra Huber

Terra Huber has studied and worked in the field of conservation since 2009. She has worked as an Assistant Paper Conservator at the Northeast Document Conservation Center since 2015 and has completed internships at the Walters Art Museum, the Newberry Library, the Boston Athenaeum, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Terra earned a Master of Arts with a Certificate of Advanced Study in Art Conservation from Buffalo State College, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Tyler School of Arts of Temple University. She is a member of the American Institute for Conservation and the Guild of Book Workers.

Date: Friday, April 29, 2016
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Patrick Ma Digital Scholarship Lab, Rockefeller Library, 10 Prospect Street, Providence

Exhibit | Tripping the Light Fantastic: Experimental Optics in the Victorian Era

Opt1cIn 1704, Isaac Newton published the first scientific work on light. Working carefully but not very cautiously, Newton began compiling the results of hundreds of experiments he performed in the quiet space of his own rooms at Cambridge over the course of four decades, from the 1660s forward. Many of these experiments involved Newton using his own eyes as the experimental apparatus, through such risky maneuvers as staring directly at the sun and slipping a small knife around the side of the eyeball to see how the additional pressure he exerted would affect his sight. Despite having to spend months in the dark to allow his eyes to recover from the stress of these activities, he gained enormous insight from these and other, more standard, experiments. The resulting book, entitled Opticks, broke new ground in science and led to the establishment of a new field for study of the physical properties of light.

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The devices on display at the John Hay Library date from the second half of the 19th century and were purchased for use by faculty and students in the Brown Physics Department. They were eventually transferred to the Library once technological advances had rendered them obsolete for instructional purposes in the field. Still, their mechanical precision was important at the time of their creation and would have been the envy of Newton and his 17th century colleagues at the Royal Society. After all, if only Newton had had the automatic spectroscope, he would not have had to stick that knife into his own eye!

Dates: March 29 – May 15, 2016
TimeLibrary Hours
Location: Lobby Cases, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence

Special Collections | Hubert Jennings Papers on Fernando Pessoa

Hubert Jennings at enlistment for World War I

Hubert Jennings at enlistment for World War I

In October 2015, Christopher Jennings and Bridget Winstanley, son and daughter of British and South African scholar Hubert Dudley Jennings, donated their father’s personal papers to Brown University Library.

In January of this year, Folha de S.Paulo, one of Brazil’s leading daily newspapers, featured an article about the discovery of the Hubert Jennings archive in a garage in Johannesburg and its subsequent donation to the Brown University Library. Professor Onésimo Almeida published a response to this article in Malomil.

Born in London in 1896, Hubert Jennings served in World War I and moved to South Africa after graduating from the University of Wales. In his newly adopted land, Jennings became Assistant Headmaster at Durban High School, where he remained employed for the next twelve years (1923-1935). Jennings was one of the first biographers of Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa and one of the first scholars to be interested in Pessoa’s English poetry. Jennings left an invaluable contribution to Pessoan studies with his biographical works on the poet’s stay in South Africa – Fernando Pessoa in Durban (1986) and Os Dois Exílios: Fernando Pessoa na África do Sul (1984).

Through this gift, soon accessible online and in physical form at the John Hay Library, scholars will get a unique glimpse at Pessoa’s life in South Africa following his father’s death. Aside from his published works, Hubert Jennings also left a complete and unpublished book about Fernando Pessoa; plans and notes for other books on the noted writer; an inventory of Pessoa’s estate; numerous transcriptions and translations of Pessoa’s poetry and prose; original short stories taking place in Portugal; a considerable correspondence with writers and scholars from around the world interested in Pessoa’s work; and photos and copies of documents regarding Pessoa’s life, which complement the collection of artifacts housed at the National Library of Portugal and the Casa Pessoa.

Jennings at his desk

Jennings at his desk

Life after Lovecraft

Sonia and Nathaniel Davis, circa 1936.

Sonia Haft Davis (1883-1972) would have lived her life in relative obscurity but for her 2-year marriage to a man named Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937).   Lovecraft was a science fiction and horror writer whose work has created a significant and active fan base.  To preserve her own literary output and the work of her third husband, Nathaniel A. Davis, Sonia donated materials documenting their lives to Brown University.  Those papers are now available for research in the Sonia H. and Nathaniel A. Davis papers (MS.2012.003) at the John Hay Library.

Those looking for information about H.P. Lovecraft in the papers of his ex-wife will be disappointed.  The bulk of the materials in this collection document the life of Sonia Davis from 1930 to 1972, during which time she lived in California and was married to Nathaniel A. Davis. Sonia and Nathaniel were both devoted to the idea of world peace and wrote numerous articles and poems promoting that goal.  Nathaniel founded Planetaryan, a humanitarian organization devoted to world peace, for which Sonia was the chief administrator.  The collection is a good source of documentation for anyone interested in U.S. social, political and religious history, especially around the period of World War II. It is also useful for researchers interested in American literature, especially religious poetry and didactic literature.

To learn more about the life of Sonia Haft Davis contact Christopher Geissler, Librarian for American and British Literary and Popular Culture Collections, or visit the John Hay Library.

Fernando Birri: Mi Patria Son Mis Zapatos

Fernando Birri by Wilhelm Reinke

Photo by Wilhelm Reinke

The John Hay Library takes great pleasure in announcing the opening of the Fernando Birri Archive of Multimedia Arts.  It is an extraordinary collection documenting the long and continuing career of Fernando Birri, a celebrated and influential film maker, poet, writer, educator, artist, and theoretician.

Fernando Birri was born in Santa Fe, Argentina in 1925 and is honored as the Father of the new Latin American film movement, described as a form of revolutionary or Third Cinema.  He has been a creative force in 43 films either as the director, actor, or subject. His most well-known films are Tire dié, ORG, and Un señor muy viejo con unas alas enormes. He was instrumental in the founding of 3 film schools: Instituto de Cinematografía de la Universidad del Litoral in Santa Fe, Argentina; Laboratorio Ambulante de Poéticas Cinematográficas in the Universidad de los Andes in Venezuela;  and Escuela de Cine y Televisión de Tres Mundos (EICTV) in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba. He has authored numerous books on film theory and taught classes on film making around the world. In addition, he is a prolific artist working in a wide range of media from pencils to computer graphics.

The Fernando Birri Archive of Multimedia Arts contains his films, videos, film scripts, diaries, writings, art work, correspondence, poems, photographs, posters, and audio recordings.  It is a comprehensive archive of his life and work and the essential resource for understanding not only the work of Birri but also the history and evolution of Latin American film during the 20th and 21st centuries.

All of his work and creative energy has been accomplished despite, or perhaps because of, his continual movement from one country to another.  He left his native Argentina in 1950 to study film in Italy.  But he was forced to leave Argentina in 1963 for political reasons.  He kept on moving and has lived and worked in Brazil, Italy, Venezuela, Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba, Germany, and the United States.  He describes his life this way:

“… I have to become a citizen of the world. And there is a very heart-rending phrase from an Argentinean filmmaker, who was killed by the dictatorship in Paris, Jorge Cedrón, which since then has come to be my motto: “Mi patria son mis zapatos [My country is my shoes]”. Life obliged me to that, so I accept it, I accept it well, and with dreams for the future. Period and enough.” (Interview by Mariluce Moura, 2006)

Laundry – way more fascinating than you thought

Sawyer's Crystal Blue Little Bo Peep puzzle

Puzzle created by Sawyer’s Crystal Blue Company to advertise their bluing product, circa 1900. When added to wash water, the blue dye makes white clothes look whiter. The swastika symbol in this context means lucky or auspicious object.

Laundry.  At its most basic, washing clothes involves water and a scrubbing action, with soap as an added bonus.  Yet, our ancestors would not recognize the process of doing laundry in 21st century America.  We have incredibly sophisticated computerized machines and a dizzying array of laundry detergents and other products to get our clothes clean.  The evolution of washing technology from washboards to top-loaders, and the social implications of that process, is richly documented in the Joe and Lil Shapiro collection of laundry ephemera (MS.2014.002) now available for use at the John Hay Library.

The Joe and Lil Shapiro collection of laundry ephemera consists of ephemera that depict the history, artifacts and materials used to do laundry from 1800 to 2010.  Most of the items in this collection were produced by companies to advertise laundry products such as bluing, clotheslines and clothespins, dyes, soaps, starch, washboards and washing machines. The advertisements depict not only the variety and evolution of laundry tools and techniques but also attitudes towards women, women’s work, and people of African-American and Chinese descent.  The collection as a whole raises the topic of laundry from something to be avoided to something that tells a fascinating story about American history, technology, chemistry, social expectations, race relations, the status of women, and the power of advertising.  Who knew the laundry hamper could be so informative?

This collection was compiled by Joseph S. Shapiro, Brown class of 1957, and his wife, Lilian Shapiro. Joseph Shapiro was the owner of the Lundermac Company, Inc., which managed and supplied self-service laundries in apartments, condos and dormitories across New England. Lundermac was founded in 1940 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, by Lilian Shapiro’s father, Gerard Wolfe. Joseph Shapiro learned the business from Wolfe, beginning as a salesperson in 1961, and rose to become President of the company in 1988.  Joe and Lil collected anything and everything related to the process of doing laundry including washing machines, washboards, wash paddles, soap boxes, etc.  Only the paper-based ephemeral materials were donated to Brown University.

To learn more about this collection and how it can inform your research projects, contact Holly Snyder, Curator of American Historical Collections, or visit the John Hay Library.

Waterloo 1815: A Bicentennial Exhibition

Battle of Waterloo Exhibit

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, fought on Sunday, June 18th, 1815 in a village in present-day Belgium. A pivotal moment in history, this battle marked the end of both the Napoleonic Empire and France’s domination of Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Waterloo was the closing event of more than a quarter century of global conflict from the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, ushering in nearly fifty years of peacetime in Europe. The decisive battle has maintained a prominent place in public consciousness long after the final moments of combat.

This exhibition, drawn from The Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, visualizes the history of this momentous event. It covers the major actors, precursory battles, public reactions, tourism and commemorations, as well as the details of the battle itself and its grim aftermath. The items on display range from texts and images that are contemporary with the battle to those created as retrospectives.

Location: Hay Exhibition Gallery
Dates: February 16th, 2015 – May 25th, 2015