Welcome to WAM Updates

WAM Updates are short, informal posts that put the spotlight on small, but exciting, Museum-related projects, such as the addition of a new painting or sculpture to a gallery. They also serve as updates on staff, new services or programs, and other WAM news.

We hope you like reading the Updates! If you are interested in learning about something specific, or have a suggestion for a WAM Update, please update us at wamupdates@worcesterart.org

Monday, March 19, 2018

Meet Stephanie Cyr, Worcester Art Museum librarian

Stephanie Cyr joined the Worcester Art Museum as Museum Librarian on November 28, 2017.  In this capacity, Stephanie also serves as the Art Museum Librarian for the College of the Holy Cross.
Most recently, Stephanie served as the Associate Curator at the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, where she planned and executed exhibitions.  Her work focused on varied topics from weather and climate, geology, mining, and current subjects such as hydraulic fracturing, to maps of fantastic and imaginary lands in fiction.  During her career as a librarian, Stephanie has worked in reference and readers advisory and cataloging, and brings over a decade of experience in public, academic and special library settings to the Worcester Art Museum library. Stephanie looks forward to working with all visitors to the Museum, and welcomes neighbors, guests and students of all ages to learn about and utilize the vast resources that the library has to offer. Browse dozens of art magazines, read about current exhibitions, or conduct personal research in the reading room, which is open to the public. 

Stephanie holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from UMass Amherst, and a master’s degree in library science from Simmons College in Boston. Her favorite book is Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and her favorite work of art is Thomas Cole’s View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm-The Oxbow (1836). She lives in central Massachusetts with her husband and two young children.
We're delighted that Stephanie has joined WAM! Please stop by the library to meet her when you are next at the Museum.
--Gareth Salway, Director of Museum Services and Chief Registrar

Friday, February 23, 2018

How to Be a Knight: Pietro Monte’s Collectanea

This week marks the appearance of my latest book, Pietro Monte’s Collectanea: The Arms, Armor, and Fighting Techniques of a Fifteenth-Century Soldier. Monte was a renowned Spanish mercenary active in Italy around 1500. He is mentioned multiple times in Baldesar Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier, and Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks include a remark about consulting Monte on the technique of throwing spears.

The Collectanea is a detailed technical treatise on “how to be a knight.” Monte tells us about the sports that kept knights in physical shape (wrestling, running, throwing, jumping), as well as knightly martial arts (combat with swords, staff weapons, on horseback, in and out of armor). In an age when almost nothing was written about the design of arms and armor, Monte offers extensive detail about how these objects should be made. This makes his work hugely important for arms and armor scholars, who mostly have to rely on reverse engineering to explain the objects we study.

Monte wrote his book in Spanish sometime around 1490, then published an expanded Latin translation in 1509. I began translating Monte’s Latin text about a dozen years ago. It’s been a challenging project: Latin isn’t a great language for technical writing, and Monte’s Latin is exceptionally bad, so it can be difficult to figure out what he’s trying to say. But the work and wait are finally over, and I’m thrilled to have made this important work accessible to modern scholars and enthusiasts.

—Jeffrey L. Forgeng, Curator of Arms & Armor and Medieval Art


Monday, January 22, 2018

Flora in Winter Designer’s Quest for the Cup!

Sally Jablonksi, longtime designer for Flora in Winter and, has been selected as one of the top ten designers in the United States to compete in the FTD America’s Cup in Washington DC this year. Ms. Jablonski entered three photos of her arrangement designs from previous years of Flora in Winter. The three works she entered were floral designs for Portrait of a Man with a Gun-Ralph Earl, The Betrayal of Christ, and Christ's Decent into Limbo - Circle of Gillis Mostaert. FTD America’s Cup is a national competition that selects one individual to represent both FTD and the United States in the 2019 FTD-Interflora-Fleurop World Cup Design Competition which is the world’s most prestigious floral design competition. During the course of the competition designers will face time limits, pressure and each other for the right to represent the FTD and the United States. Join us in congratulating and cheering-on Sally as she competes in Washington DC over the 4th of July weekend.

Sally has competed in multiple FTD competitions in the 80’s and 90’s including the 1989 FTD World Competition in Tokyo. Sally has also placed second in the 2012 Connecticut State Floral Design Competition and second in the 2013 Connecticut State Floral Competition Masters. Don’t miss her design this year for The Discovery of Honey by Bacchus, Piero di Cosimo.

To learn more about the FTD competition please visit http://ftdi.com/ftdamericascup/

Monday, January 15, 2018

New Local Artist Rotation Makes its Debut

A John Pagano painting &ndash: Infatuation (A Place to Go)
John Pagano, Infatuation (A Place to Go), 2016,
acrylic polymer on canvas, Collection of the Artist
The Worcester Art Museum is happy to announce the debut of an ongoing art rotation dedicated to artists who live and/or work in the Worcester region. Located in WAM’s “After ‘45” galleries, the rotation seeks to highlight the diversity of artistic talent here in Central Massachusetts. The inaugural display features John Pagano, a well-known local painter whose work is often on display regionally at institutions such as the Fitchburg Art Museum, ArtsWorcester, and most recently in a monographic exhibition dedicated to the artist at Worcester’s contemporary art space, the Sprinkler Factory.

A Worcester native, John Pagano’s paintings characteristically straddle the line between representation and abstraction. Pagano prefers acrylic paint, a medium associated with vibrant colors and crisp edges. Artists often favor acrylics when seeking a more matte, graphic quality to their work. However, Pagano’s use of the hard-edged acrylic paint combined with his expressive style, simultaneously conveys the appearance of fluid and frozen gestures.

Pagano describes Infatuation (A Place to Go) as an aquatic landscape that emerged organically through recurring shapes, colors and markmaking. He specifically notes the “blooming flower-type shape” seen in the three gray forms with sensuous red and pink outgrowths. According to Pagano, these shapes evolve into “a symbol of an infatuation, an attraction, an invention.” This painting is one of two canvases Pagano created in 2016 with the title Infatuation. Both feature the open, blossoming forms.

Pagano’s Infatuation is on view at the Worcester Art Museum until May 6, 2018.

-Nancy Kathryn Burns, Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Last Defense: The Genius of Japanese Meiji Metalwork

One hundred and fifty years ago samurai arms and armor overnight transformed from symbols of power and prestige of the samurai warrior class to nostalgic curios.  With the start of the Meiji revolution in 1868, power effectively transferred from the samurai class to the emperor.  In the arts, the decline of the samurai class most directly affected metalworkers who had to innovate and rescale their skills from making tour de force works of combat and defense to fine decorative works for the new flourishing export market as well as the court.  Instead of working for a samurai lord who would demand the best work regardless of cost, metalworkers and armorers had to appeal to a new clientele that desired quality as well as value for their money.  Last Defense: The Genius of Japanese Meiji Metalwork celebrates the ingenuity and creativity of the last generation of classically trained metalmakers during this rapid period of transition from the late 19th century into the new modern age.

Metalworking training in the previous Edo period (1603-1868) would start from an early age completing years of menial chores in the atelier of a master metalworker before receiving any substantial instruction.  Eventually, the successful apprentice would be adopted into the master’s family and then establish his own workshop to carry on their tradition of making.  Based on this strong foundation of Edo period craftsmanship, elite armorers such as the dominant four centuries-old Myochin family adapted their skills in remarkable ways.

Samurai arms and armor forms and techniques became inspiration for decorative artworks, such as an incense burner in the shape of a miniaturized helmet and a finely articulated dragon on view in the current exhibition.  As the new markets could not discern cheap imitations from fine works, however, master metalworkers had to lower their standards or shut down.  By the 1940s such outstanding mastery and splendor in metal making was rarely ever seen again.

-Vivian Li, Assistant Curator of Asian Art

Monday, October 23, 2017

Armor Invasion!

Suit of armor on display in the Renaissance galleries The next time you visit our Renaissance painting galleries you will notice some dramatic changes. We have started integrating suits of armor into the galleries, getting more of the Higgins Armory collection on view for our visitors. As curator at the Armory for 15 years, I was often frustrated that I could never show the suits of armor in connection with other kinds of objects of the period. The limitations of a small museum also meant that I was never able to put significant resources into how the armor was displayed. So I’m pretty thrilled by the new installation—these armors have never looked better. We put a lot of effort into helping visitors get a feel for how they actually looked on a human being, and seeing them in relation to other artworks of the period helps put them into their proper setting. So come see some star suits from the Higgins Collection, now in their “natural habitat” for the very first time in centuries!

- Jeffrey L. Forgeng, Curator of Arms & Armor and Medieval Art

Monday, September 18, 2017

The WAM Experience - Reflections of a Summer Intern

As a curatorial intern at the Worcester Art Museum I had the opportunity to gain a one-of-a-kind experience behind the scenes of the museum.

I mainly worked on preparing mannequins for four suits of armor and a chain mail shirt for the Renaissance Galleries and Medieval Gallery. Like any other job, this one had its challenges. Dressing the mannequins was the most difficult part. I couldn’t use a sewing machine because the clothing had to be sewn in place on the mannequins. The work was even harder when I had to hold the mannequin up with one hand while sewing its pants with the other! However, the day we went to the storage room and loaded the armor onto the finished mannequins I was rewarded with a glimpse of the completed project. Seeing something I made coming together, and knowing that it will be on display, made me particularly proud, because in my own way I played a significant part in an important project at the museum. A few days later I had the pleasure of seeing one of the suits of armor in its glass case, ready for the public to enjoy it. All the hard work had finally paid off and the obstacles I encountered made me more experienced.

My internship wasn’t just making clothes for the mannequins. I loved taking part in Free Fun Friday, interacting with visitors in the museum’s Medieval Galleries. I was part of the team staffing the medieval cart, helping kids and grownups try on reproduction armor. Through this experience, the visitors were not limited to just looking at objects, they had a chance to feel the material and weight and understand the function of the objects they saw on display.

Throughout my internship I was included in decisionmaking, my opinion was always taken into account and I was always part of a team. The staff were always willing to advise and guide me in the projects I worked on. My internship at the Worcester Art Museum created a solid foundation for my future—thank you to everyone who made it an amazing experience for me.

- Sofia Pitouli, Curatorial Intern

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