Welcome to WAM Updates

There’s always something new to discover at WAM, but sometimes what’s new is not immediately obvious to our visitors. That’s where WAM Updates come in. These short, informal posts put the spotlight on small, but exciting, Museum-related projects, such as the addition of a new painting or sculpture to a gallery.

We hope you like reading the Updates and that they help you discover – and enjoy – all of the great things happening at the Worcester Art Museum. 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, August 15, 2016

Summer Youth Student Exhibition

The Higgins Education Wing will exhibit artwork created by young artists as a part of the Studio Art Program’s summer classes from August 12 – September 18. Our Summer Youth Student Exhibition presents over 200 works of art by young artists from 50 classes in the areas of painting, sculpture, illustration, mixed media, and printmaking. The exhibition features a wide range of visual practices, spanning many genres and media.

Our philosophy places value on the process of creating art and learning to think and respond creatively. We provide an environment where students can explore other cultures through our outstanding collection of artworks from antiquities to contemporary art. Students will have the opportunity to try new materials and gain self-confidence. All youth, not just those with perceived talents, benefit from working with art materials and learning about self-expression.

The exhibition, located in the Higgins Education Wing, is free and open to the public Sunday–Saturday, from 9am to 5pm. Register for a WAM Studio Art Class to be eligible for our next student exhibition! WAM’s fall session for adult starts September 11th and youth/teen classes start October 1st.

Click here for more information about faculty and their classes or to register today.

Image: Student Emma Roche

- Ashley Occhino, Manager of Studio Class Programs

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Be  sure to stop by the Japanese art gallery for a last chance to see the Museum’s exquisite pair of Kano school tiger and dragon screens, which will go off view soon on August 22. Established in the 1400s and continuing into modern times, the distinguished Kano school of hereditary professional painters is the longest flourishing and influential school of painting in Japan. The Kano brothers, Kano Tan’yu and Kano Naonobu, were court painters to the shogun in Edo, or present-day Tokyo.

The two screens reflect the intimate relationship in Japan between the dragon and tiger, which are often depicted together. According to the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism that was influential in Japan, the dragon and tiger symbolize two opposite yet complementary forces (yin and yang) in the universe. While the tiger represents yin, or passivity, darkness, and the earth, the dragon represents yang, or activity, light, and the heavens.

Revealing great talent and connoisseurship of classic Chinese and Japanese ink paintings, Tan'yu depicted the dragon with fluid, confident brushwork and a great control of ink washes and tones. In contrast, Naonobu’s style was more restrained and quiet. He endowed the tiger with vitality through the play of broad and thin, light and dark, and wet and dry brushstrokes enhanced by light ink washes.

- Vivian Li, Assistant Curator, Asian Art

KANO Tan’yu (Japanese, 1602-1674) - Dragon
KANO Naonobu (Japanese, 1607-1650) - Tiger
1630–1640 Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink on paper
Overall 172.7 x 377.8 cm (68 x 148 3/4 in.)
Museum purchase, Harriet B. Bancroft Fund and partial gift of Robert H. Simmons, 1987.9, 1987.10

Monday, August 1, 2016

Hot off the presses: a book on museums and empathy

I’m excited to share with you the newly published book Fostering Empathy Through Museums, edited by Elif M. Gokcigdem and published by Rowman & Littlefield. I partnered with Jonathan Carfagno, Director of Learning and Audience Engagement, Grand Rapids Art Museum on museums, core values and the importance of empathy as a value. Our chapter looks at the role that core values, the ethics that governs your organization, can and should have in cultural organizations. By looking at many successful, audience focused organizations – primarily for-profit organizations – we were better able to identify the role and importance that values can and should play in each organization.

Here at the Worcester Art Museum, we have already begun applying these ideas, working to make sure that the Museum is both an intellectually stimulating and engaging place and also one that understands and respects the different needs of our visitors. This includes elements like the experience arriving at the Museum, where we now also have parking spaces for expecting mothers, all the way to the experience in the galleries, where new configurations of seating encourage visitors to relax, not rush.

- Adam R Rozan, Director of Audience Engagement

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What's your feedback?

The next time you visit the Museum, we hope you will notice a new feature in the Higgins Education Wing. The Feedback Wall is exactly what it sounds like. We've added this interactive space as a way to continually solicit feedback on current and upcoming projects and exhibitions, programs and museum materials. This space is different from the iPad surveys in our museum galleries because we will be asking you for your feedback on specific exhibitions, programs, tours and more. Additionally, you will be able to see what others have written about their experiences and respond.

This feedback will be used to help us continually learn about the work that is happening at the museum.

 Right now, the Feedback Wall is asking the following questions about the #Meow project:
• Why does Meow matter to you?
• What conversations grew out of your visit to Meow?
• Tell us about your cat.

If you would prefer to email your responses to these questions (or any other thoughts about Meow), please email us at meow@worcesterart.org. Additionally, you can always give us your general thoughts about the institution through our online survey. If you haven't already done so, we'd appreciate you taking the time to leave your responses.

- Adam Rozan, Director of Audience Engagement

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Study of a Female Figure

The Worcester Art Museum’s ink drawing, Study of a Female Figure (1992.55), shown above-left, was offered to the Worcester Art Museum in 1992 as a gift by David Richardson. Originally attributed to Giovanni Battista Castello (Il Bergamasco), the drawing in fact appears to be by Luca Cambiaso (Moneglia 1527 – 1585 Spain). Exemplifying Cambiaso’s distinct style, the work includes his signature use of curvilinear lines accented with wash, heavy ink application, mannerist poses, and abstraction of form. Further research indicates that the drawing served as study for a female figure in the central ceiling fresco at the Palazzo della Meridiana in Genoa (image above-right). Cambiaso’s study for the Return of Ulysses—the central fresco in the Reception Room—would be contemporary with the present study, accurately dating the drawing to circa 1560-1565.

In the mid-16th century, Admiral and Statesman Andrea Doria stabilized Genoa under his political leadership, allowing it to emerge as a major artistic center in Italy. Early transplants—including painters Perino del Vaga, Domenico Beccaufumi, and Giovanni Antonio de Pordenone—particularly influenced artists of the emerging Genoese school, of which Luca Cambiaso became the first great artist. He was a draughtsman and painter born in Moneglia, then part of the Republic of Genoa and the son of a painter and teacher, Giovanni Cambiaso. Considered the father of the Genoese school, Luca Cambiaso’s bold, unique style significantly influenced those in his circle. Cambiaso adopted the evident mannerist style of Perino del Vaga and combined it with the bold and dramatic line work of Pordenone.

The present drawing has been discussed with a number of scholars in the field, including foremost Cambiaso expert and director at the National Gallery, Jonathan Bober, and Old Master Italian drawing specialist Linda Wolk-Simon, formerly of the Morgan Library, who have both kindly confirmed the re-attribution to Cambiaso. This re-attribution to Cambiaso is significant as he is considered the founding artist of the Genoese school, which has gained increasing collector and academic interest over the last decade. Additionally, this study is a relatively rare instance of a true preparatory sketch for a single figure amidst countless drawings by the master himself and workshop pieces that served as autonomous works. As such, this piece is a real highlight of the museum’s collection.

- Oliver Joseph, MD, Curatorial Volunteer Researcher, Old Master Drawings

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pokémon GO to Worcester Art Museum!

Unless you were living under a rock (and maybe even then, too), you have heard of an incredibly popular phenomenon sweeping the gaming world this week, called Pokémon GO.

If this all seems a little confusing, a week ago I was in the same boat; luckily, it doesn’t take long to get caught up to understand and play this popular and fun game. Pokémon GO is an AR gaming interface for your phone, which means “augmented reality.” The idea is to get gamers off of the couch and send them out into real world locations to find and catch virtual Pokémon, which can be found at actual historical or landmark sites all across the globe. Moving throughout the map contained in the game, you find locations of Pokémon via the camera on your phone. Pokéstops, virtual outposts for Pokémon GO players, are found all over the place… even right here at the Worcester Art Museum. These stops help players to gain Poké Balls and other materials needed to play the game. We’re pleased as can be that the Worcester Art Museum has not only one, but TWO Pokéstops in the facility. Additionally, it is a huge benefit for Pokémon GO players that we have free Wi-Fi throughout the entire WAM building. Since the app requires either streaming data or Wi-Fi for the map aspect to function, this takes a load off of a potential surprise data suck... and cell phone bill. Here’s an insider tip, too: admission to the Worcester Art Museum will be FREE during the entire month of August, so it will be a great time to not only check out our extensive, beautiful galleries, but to capture some new Pokémon as well. Also happening in August, it was announced that players will be able to purchase a Bluetooth device (Pokémon GO Plus) that will alert them when a Pokémon is nearby, so they can quickly pull out their phones and catch it. Until then, remember that admission for WAM members and institutional members is free, so it is a good time as ever to join or use your membership.

Tips for a successful Pokémon GO visit to WAM:
• Be careful seeking Pokémon in Museum galleries. From the Pokémon GO website: “If you see a Pokémon someplace where it might not be safe to capture it (like in a construction site or on private property that you can't get to from the street), don't do it. There will always be another chance to catch that Pokémon later on!” This applies around our delicate works of art as well!
• Walking while staring at my phone is something I found myself doing while playing the game, which also can be dangerous around WAM’s works of art, staircases, and other museum guests. Be vigilant of your surroundings at all times while walking.

Pokémon Go is a free app downloadable for your Apple or Android device. If you’re sharing images of your Pokémon sightings on social media, be sure to tag your Worcester Art Museum Pokémon with #WorcesterArtMuseum!

Katrina Stacy
Associate Curator of Education

Friday, June 24, 2016

On View: God Rested on the Seventh Day

If you have been in the early Renaissance painting gallery (Gallery 212) in the last week, you may have noticed a new guest from the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, Massachusetts, one of the great repositories of Russian religious art outside of Russia itself.

The work is an icon, a religious object of critical importance in Orthodox Christianity. Rather than simply representing spiritual subjects, as Christian paintings do, icons are considered direct portals to the divine. Icons capture the essence of the figure represented and they serve as a direct intercessor for the worshipper. In other words, they are instruments for establishing contact with God and remain a central element of worship in the Orthodox church.

Most icons in common use depict well-known saints, Christ, or the Virgin Mary. The work on loan, in contrast, is a rare and unusual subject: God Rested on the Seventh Day, painted in Moscow around 1550. Because the subject is unconventional, the owner was probably a priest or a highly educated lay person who used the icon for private devotion, rather than an icon used in a more public church setting. It represents the Old Testament book of Genesis 2:3: “And he blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

We’re very grateful to the Museum of Russian Icons for sharing this work – and by extension the icon tradition – with our visitors, letting us tell a much more complete story about painting in Europe during the Renaissance.

God Rested on the Seventh Day, 1550s (restored 1700s)
Egg tempera on panel
Russia, Moscow
Lent by the Museum of Russian Icons, R2013.80

- Jon L. Seydl, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of European Art

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