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Visual Arts in February

Winter exhibitions at the Block Museum, Dittmar Gallery & University Library open to public

  • Siddiq Wahid’s Feb. 4 talk at Block Museum will trace the history of the Western Himalayas
  • Dittmar Gallery to host Feb. 13 opening of Dominic Sansone’s “American Dream” exhibit 
  • University Library exhibits are related to food and the Library’s vast holding of artifacts
  • February artist talks by David Hartt and Irene Knezevic both open to the public

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The themes of Northwestern University’s winter 2015 exhibitions – Buddhist art from Kashmir and Toulouse-Lautrec’s prints at the Block Museum and a stellar installation by artist Jason Paradis at the Dittmar Gallery -- have been drawing great interest from national and Chicago-area media as well as local art aficionados. 

Following the Feb. 8 closing of the Paradis’ show, the Dittmar will host a new winter exhibition featuring the sculptures of Chicago artist Dominic Sansone. Sansone’s “American Dream: God, Guns & Drones, Feb. 13 to March 18, examines the dangers and peculiarities of living in a society that profits and thrives on violence and bloodshed.

Free and open to the general public, all of the following events will take place on the Evanston campus.


• “Collecting Paradise: Buddhist Art of Kashmir and Its Legacies,” through April 19, in the Block’s Main Gallery, was conceived and curated by Northwestern University professor Robert Linrothe in collaboration with Christian Lucanzits, the David L. Snellgrove Senior Lecturer in Tibetan and Buddhist Art at The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. The exhibition features metalwork, paintings, ivories and woodwork from Kashmir and the Western Himalayas from the 7th to 17th centuries. “Collecting Paradise” presents an original and innovative look at Buddhist art from the region of Kashmir and the Western Himalayas, as well as the ways it has been “collected” throughout history. In bringing together 44 works from major collections across the U.S., this exhibition examines how Buddhist art from Kashmir and the Western Himalayas has traveled across centuries and borders -- first within the region and later to the U.S. and Europe -- raising questions about cultural impact and the varying motivations behind modes of collecting. For information on upcoming Block Museum related events, visit

• “Collecting Culture: Himalaya through the Lens,” Jan. 13 through April 12, in the Alsdorf Gallery, is a companion exhibit to the Block’s Main Gallery exhibition. It takes a critical look at U.S. and European engagement in the Himalayas, beginning in the mid-19th century. Through lenses, including photography, cartography, natural science and ethnography, it reflects on the ways Westerners have perceived, defined and acquired the Himalayas over time. It raises questions about what is gained and what is lost when one culture collects another.

“Collecting Paradise: Buddhist Art of Kashmir and Its Legacies” and “Collecting Culture: Himalaya through the Lens” were organized by the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University; and the Rubin Museum of Art, New York.

Additional funding and support was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts; Myers Foundations; Alumnae of Northwestern; Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation; Illinois Arts Council Agency; Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Illinois General Assembly; and Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and department of art history.

• This winter, the Block also is hosting the “Toulouse-Lautrec Prints: Art at the Edges of Modernity” exhibition, through April 19, in the Katz Gallery. Curated by Northwestern students in Professor S. Hollis Clayson’s undergraduate art history course, “Museums: The Fin de Siécle Poster,” the exhibition explores the scope of Lautrec’s work in print media in the final decade of his life. Items on display range from public works such as posters, illustrated books and theater programs to privately circulated portfolios. The selection of works reveal a wide range of lithographs by one of the best known artists of the modern era. The Block Museum thanks Andra and Irwin Press for graciously lending from their collection, a significant group of which is bequeathed to the Block.

For more information on Block’s winter exhibitions, visit - sthash.doEPz2lx.dpuf

To view Block Cinema’s complete fall screening schedule online, visit


Northwestern’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art is located at 40 Arts Circle Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. For more information, visit or call 847-491-4000.


Free guided tours of the Block Museum’s exhibitions are held every Saturday and Sunday at

1 p.m. No reservation is necessary.

• Free tours for groups of five or more people can be pre-arranged. Requests should be made at least four weeks in advance. For more information, email or visit - sthash.jLP1QlHj.dpuf.

• Gallery tours for higher education groups and kindergarten through high school classes also are available. For more information, visit - sthash.PsE49nv7.dpuf.


The following Block Museum events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

• Curator’s Gallery Talk, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28. Join Northwestern art history faculty member and exhibition curator Robert Linrothe for a guided view of selected objects in the Main Gallery. He will introduce the exhibition's five main sections and direct visitors’ attention to relationships in the themes and styles of works from Kashmir and the Western Himalayas. This will be followed by a tour of “Collecting Culture: Himalaya through the Lens,” a companion exhibition, on view to the public from Jan. 13-April 12, 2015, in the Alsdorf Gallery, in which some of the primary Western collectors are featured.

• Block Cinema Screening, “Lost Horizon” (Frank Capra, 1937, United States, DCP, 132 minutes), 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30. Based on James Hilton’s best-selling novel, Frank Capra’s “Lost Horizon” creates one of the most vivid settings in film. A plane crash brings the diverse group of survivors to Shangri-La, a mysterious and harmonious valley high in the Himalayan mountains. Restored version courtesy of Sony Pictures Repertory. General admission is $6 or $4 for Block Museum members, Northwestern faculty, staff and students, students from other schools with valid IDs and individuals 60 and older. Quarterly passes also are available for $20. For more information, visit

• Music in the Galleries, 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5, Feb. 12, Feb. 19 and Feb. 26. Organized by the Block Museum’s Student Advisory Board, informal weekly Thursday afternoon performances by Northwestern student musicians and musical ensembles, inspired by both Eastern and Western musical traditions, will permeate the museum’s galleries.

• Lecture by Siddiq Wahid, “The History of a Border-Crossing Lineage in Central and South Asia: The Radhu Family,” 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4. Siddiq Wahid, a historian of Central Asian and Tibetan political history and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, will trace the history of the Western Himalayas through the eyes of his family’s experience. The Radhu family, to which Wahid belongs, is arguably a microcosm of the experience of frontier peoples in the transition from a “traditional” world to the “modern” one. The case will illustrate what happens to frontier populations that are wrapped around “lines” drawn in faraway capitals and called “borders.”

• Block Cinema Screening, “Black Narcissus” (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1947, United Kingdom, 35mm, 100 minutes), 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6. One of the glories of Technicolor cinema, “Black Narcissus” focuses on a group of Anglican nuns who live in a convent high in the Himalayas. The exotic locale has an almost mystical influence on the sisters, kindling both romantic and carnal releases that threaten their mission, their state of mind and their way of life.

• Lecture by Madhuvanti Ghose, “Early Art of Kashmir,” 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10 (New Date). Madhuvanti Ghose, Alsdorf Associate Curator of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan, and Islamic Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, will discuss the art of Kashmir prior to the period covered by “Collecting Paradise” as a way of contextualizing the exhibition. She will speak about the impact of Gandharan art on the origins of an indigenous Kashmiri style of art from the 5th century to the period where “Collecting Paradise” picks up the narrative.

• Block Cinema Screening, “Haider” (Vishal Bhardwaj, 2014, India, DCP, 160 minutes), 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13. In the latest film by Bollywood director Vishal Bhardwaj, a young man returns to Kashmir after his father's disappearance to confront the uncle who had a hand in his father's fate. “Haider” is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, displacing the action from Denmark to the city of Srinagar in the war-torn Kashmir of the mid-1990s.

• Lecture by Matthew T. Kapstein, “Kashmir and the Development of Tibetan Buddhism,” 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18. Director of Tibetan studies at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris and Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School, Matthew T. Kapstein will address aspects of the history of Buddhist philosophy and literature in Kashmir and their legacy in Tibet, providing historical and cultural context to the objects on display in the exhibition.

• Block Cinema Screening, “Valley of the Saints” (Musa Syeed, 2012, United States, DCP, 82 minutes), 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19. Widely considered to be the crown jewel of Kashmir, Dal Lake is a sprawling aquatic community where erupting political violence often distracts from the natural beauty. Gulzar, a young, working-class boatman, plans to skip town with his best friend Afzal in search of a better life, but a weeklong military curfew (and a beautiful ecologist, Asifa) delays their departure. With the end of the conflict looming, Gulzar has to choose between a new life or a new love.


Northwestern’s Arts Circle Drive has reopened for vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The road, drive-up handicap access to Arts Circle Drive venues, the pedestrian path at the lakefront and all sidewalks are now open for public use. New improvements to the South Beach Garage have also eliminated the need to use the stairways since both levels of the two-story parking structure are now accessible to persons with disabilities for easy access to the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art. Free parking is available after 4 p.m. in the two-level lakeside lot directly south of the museum. Additional parking is also available in the new Segal Visitors Center at 1841 Sheridan Road. For directions and additional parking information, visit


• Artist Lecture by David Hartt, 5:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6, Northwestern University, 640 Lincoln St., Room 125, Evanston campus. David Hartt creates work that unpacks the social, cultural and economic complexities of his various subjects. He explores how historic ideas and ideals persist or transform over time. Born in Montréal in 1967, he lives and works in Chicago. Admission is free and open to the public.

• Artist Lecture by Irena Knezevic, 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, Northwestern University, 640 Lincoln St., Room 125, Evanston campus. “Ika” Knezevic works in various visual art formats, music and architecture. She currently teaches at Northwestern University and is based in Chicago and Belgrade, Serbia. For more on the artist, visit Admission is free and open to the public.


The Dittmar Memorial Gallery, first floor, Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Northwestern University, Evanston campus. The Dittmar Gallery 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 art students and traveling art shows. For more information, contact the Dittmar Gallery at 847-491-2348 or Norris University Center at 847-491-2300, email or visit


• “Night for Day,” featuring artwork by Jason Paradis,  through Feb. 8, Dittmar Gallery. Dittmar’s winter 2015 exhibition will explore the night sky, bringing the stars above into the gallery below. A combination of paintings, yarn and rocks, Paradis’ intricate, site-specific installations explore phenomena through collapsing time, distance and space. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

• Dominic Sansone, “American Dream: God, Guns & Drones,” Feb. 13 through March 18, Dittmar Gallery. Sansone’s exhibition investigates how fear and paranoia of violence has shaped the collective consciousness of the United States. Focusing on the overwhelming presence of violence, both domestic and abroad, “American Dream” questions how desensitization has given way to apathy and fascination with violence. Sansone’s sculptures call attention to the dangers and peculiarities of living in a society that profits and thrives on violence and bloodshed. The exhibition and an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13 are free and open to the public.


University Library will unveil two new exhibitions: “Beyond the Book: Art & Artifacts in the Library, Jan. 12-May 14, and “Farm to Table: Governmental Information and Food,” Jan. 19-May 1. For more information, visit

• “Farm to Table: Government Information and Food,” Main Library, through May 1.  During the last century, the way our country harvests, transports and consumes food has been influenced strongly by U.S. government agencies and policies. Using materials drawn from the Library’s Government Information Collection, the University Library exhibition will highlight a few of the myriad ways in which the U.S. government has directly encouraged healthy eating, promoted safe food production and educated the country about food science. Seven cases of educational posters, wartime pamphlets, production documentation and other government-produced materials are on display.

• “Beyond the Book: Art & Artifacts in the Library,” in the Charles Deering Library lobby, through May 15. As a steward of our cultural heritage, University Library holds far more than just books. Whether art or textiles or even food, the Library’s more unique holdings require a team of conservators who employ their highly specialized skills to safely house and preserve these items for future scholarship. This exhibit features some of these objects, including items that range from ancient Mesopotamian tablets to Obama-themed lollipops. It also includes information on how the Library’s team of experts solves the preservation challenges posed by each.


One Book One Northwestern is the University’s community-wide reading program hosted by the Office of the President. The selection for the 2014-15 academic year is Claude Steele’s book “Whistling Vivaldi” (W.W. Norton, 2010). One Book also has scheduled film screenings, lectures, themed dinner/panel discussions and more throughout the current academic year. All events are free and many are open to the public.


• Claude Steele, Keynote Talk and Book Signing, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, Northwestern University, Harris Hall, Room 107, Evanston campus. One Book, One Northwestern will welcome acclaimed social psychologist, Claude Steele, for the One Book keynote related to his book, “Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do,” the 2014-15 One Book One Northwestern book selection. In “Whistling Vivaldi,” Steele looks back on his 30-year career investigating the impact of social biases and prejudices on everyday life. Finding that stereotypes can influence behavior and affect performance, he shares important strategies that may prove helpful in lessening their negative effects. Steele is the executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California, Berkeley. The event is free and open to the public. For information, visit or email

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