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Northwestern Visual Arts in February

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northern Renaissance art fans have through April 8 to visit the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art’s Winter 2012 exhibition, “Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe.” The exhibition examines the role of celebrated artists in scientific explorations and discoveries. The free exhibition is on view to the public in two of the Northwestern University museum’s galleries.

The Block Museum, at 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday; and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The museum is closed on Monday. For more information, visit or call (847) 491-4000.

The Dittmar Memorial Gallery’s second Winter 2012 exhibition, “Consumption,” featuring the colorful paintings of Alisa Henriquez, opens Feb. 9 and runs through March 15.

Two of three University Library exhibits are open to the public daily from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. through March 19 and one until June 15. A fourth exhibition runs through March 16. The University Library at 1970 Campus Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. For more information, visit or call (847) 491-7658.


“Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe,” Jan. 17 through April 8, 2012, Main Gallery and Alsdorf Gallery. Organized by the Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Mass., in collaboration with the Block, this exhibition examines how celebrated Northern Renaissance artists contributed to the scientific inquiries of the 16th century. Rare and treasured prints, drawings, books, maps and scientific instruments demonstrate that artists were not just illustrators in the service of scientists. Their work also played an active role in facilitating the understanding of new concepts in astronomy, geography, natural history and anatomy. In-gallery digital displays, video and audio segments, an iPhone/iPad app, and replicas of sundials, globes and other tools add an interactive component to the exhibition. An illustrated catalogue available for $60 features contributions from Northwestern art history Professor Claudia Swan and graduate student Kathleen Tahk. The exhibition can be explored through an interactive tool and videos or by downloading the iPhone/iPad app links on the Block Museum website.

The exhibition and its catalogue are made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mrs. Arthur K. Solomon, Lionel and Vivian Spiro, Walter and Virgilia Klein, Julian and Hope Edison, Novartis on behalf of Dr. Steven F. Hyman, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Barbara and the late Robert Wheaton, the Goldman Sachs Foundation and an anonymous donor. Support for the exhibition at the Block is provided by the Myers Foundations; Lyrica Endowment; Netherland-America Foundation; Samuel H. Kress Foundation; Alumnae of Northwestern University; Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; IFPDA (International Fine Print Dealers Association) Foundation; Robert Lehman Foundation; Alsdorf Endowment; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; and the Evanston Arts Council.


“Theo Leffmann: Weaving A Life into Art,” through April 8, Block Museum, Theo Leffman Gallery. The fiber art of Chicago artist Theo Leffmann (1911-96) evokes the ancient and the exotic, echoing pre-Columbian and non-Western processes and forms with a distinct personal vision. Her 40-year career coincided with a revolution in textile art as the division between “high art” and “craft” diminished. The display of Leffmann’s colorful, richly textured and playful weavings, wall hangings and sculptural objects is drawn from the Block Museum’s permanent collection. The works are generous gifts from her husband Paul Leffmann.


Self-Guided Family Tours, Compass Quest, through April 8. Families are encouraged to discover navigational tools, maps and prints in “Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge” by using Block Museum’s explorers kit, available for free checkout during public hours.

Block Museum docents will lead guided tours of “Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge” at 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through April 8. Tours for classes or groups of eight or more people are also available with advance notice. Contact or visit

Northwestern Student Docent Exhibition Tours, 6 p.m. Thursdays, through March 8, and 6 p.m. April 5. How can you tell time in multiple countries using a folded piece of paper? Find out the answer to this and other questions during informal and interactive 45-minute tours of “Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge,” hosted by Northwestern student docents. New topics will be introduced every week.


The following February events are free and open to the public:

Gallery Talk, Of Flowers and Autopsies: Making Early Modern Science, noon, Wednesday, Feb. 8, Block Museum. Northwestern University art history Professor Claudia Swan will discuss the role of botanical and anatomical illustration in the pursuit of knowledge about the natural world. Professor Swan is an essay contributor to the Block Museum winter exhibition catalogue “Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe.” 

Gallery Talk, Printed Scientific Instruments, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29, Block Museum. Suzanne Karr-Schmidt, the Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow in the department of prints and drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago, and Bruce Stephenson, curator of the Adler Planetarium, will examine sundials, globes, astrolabes and other navigational and time-keeping devices made from printed sheets of paper. Karr-Schmidt is an essay contributor to the Block Museum winter 2012 exhibition catalog “Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe.


“Hidden Treasures at Northwestern University Library,” through March 16. Many of the library’s most treasured materials are stored where visitors aren’t likely to encounter them. Come see a selection of the library’s quirkiest materials from collections across the library.

“They Were Fighting for Our Freedom: American and Soviet Propaganda Posters of World War II,” through March 19, University Library. “They Were Fighting for Our Freedom” examines the portrayal of war themes -- courage, strength in numbers, the home front, heroic military traditions, the vile foe -- in the different artistic languages of the United States and the U.S.S.R. The exhibition is a collaboration of University Library and the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography/Kunstkamera, St. Petersburg.

“Dmitri Shostakovich at Northwestern,” through March 19, University Library. In June 1973, Northwestern gave Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich an honorary degree. Organized by the Northwestern Music Library and University Archives, this exhibition recalls Shostakovich’s visit to campus through original documents and materials, including rare Shostakovich scores published in the Soviet Union.

“Papering Over Tough Times: Soviet Propaganda Posters of the 1930s,” through June 15. Drawn from the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, the exhibition documents attempts by the Soviet government to inspire, placate, inform and frighten its citizens during an era of social engineering.


The Dittmar Memorial Gallery, Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Evanston campus is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Admission is free. The gallery focuses on ethnic cultural art, art by emerging artists, art by or about women, artwork by Northwestern undergraduate and graduate art students and traveling art shows. For information, call the Dittmar Gallery at (847) 491-2348 or Norris University Center at (847) 491-2300, e-mail or visit


Alisa Henriquez, “Consumption,” Feb. 9 through March 15, Dittmar Memorial Gallery. Henriquez’s paintings aim to directly engage prevalent images of consumption drawn from today’s popular media culture, especially as they relate to gender, beauty and material desire. Her complex compositions and reconfigurations create an experience that calls into question the messages media images perpetuate. The exhibition and an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, are both free and open to the public. For more on Henriquez, who is an associate professor in Michigan State University’s department of art and art history,
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