A Convivial Afternoon of Humane History & Merriment

Next month I will be taking part in a really fun event, an event billed as a “convivial afternoon of humane history and merriment.” This event is hosted by the fabulous National Museum of Animals & Society and will be taking place at the Velaslavasay Panorama in LA.

I will be speaking about the role of visual culture in humane education, with a specific focus on the late 19th- and early 20th- century. In addition to my talk there will be other activities taking place, including temporary exhibits, and crafts. I also hear there will be some yummy vegan snacks at this event.

If you are anywhere near LA I hope you are able to join us for a fun day at this amazing venue!

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Be Kind

I was honoured to be asked to curate an online exhibit on the subject of “Humane Education” for the National Museum of Animals & Society (NMAS) this year. After several months of research and preparation, the exhibit is now live. I enjoyed working on this project, thrilled to have had the opportunity to bring this story to a broader audience. So many people helped make this exhibit a reality, and I’m so grateful for all of their kindness, hard work, and generosity.

The NMAS is a wonderful museum dedicated to preserving the history of human-animal relationships, a history that has until very recently been woefully neglected by curators, historians, and academics. This is an important history, and the work that the NMAS is doing is so valuable. If you have any artefacts relating to the history of human-animal relationships or advocacy campaigns from previous eras that you would like to donate to the museum, they would love to hear from you!

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1) Opened my email this morning to discover an ARTstor newsletter telling me that images from Cook’s voyages to the South Seas are now available through this wonderful image database. So cool!

2) Read about a very interesting-sounding photo exhibit in Toronto. Must go see this!

3) Found out about The Working Proof, an organization that sells art prints and helps charities. Love it!

4) Donkey Sanctuary! Need I say more?

Back from the ACLA

Last week I took my first-ever trip to the state of Massachusetts — I traveled with some colleagues to the ACLA Conference at Harvard. The format for the conference was pretty cool, and unlike anything I’ve experienced before. The presentations are grouped into seminars, and the seminars meet each day throughout the conference. So it really is like a bunch of small conferences going on at once, which allows for really in-depth and focused conversations on the topic. I was part of a panel that my colleague Linda organized. Our panel was called “Dead Things” and all the papers looked at cultural representations of death.

We also had time to be tourists in Boston. What a fabulous city!! Everyone we met — from the MBTA transit workers to the people working in the stores and restaurants — was incredibly friendly and welcoming. We enjoyed delicious food and the beer was exquisite!! (I don’t think I’ve ever tried so many delicious varieties of stout) Before we left I had made a list of the places I wanted to visit. Of course, we ran out of time, but some of the highlights we did manage to hit included: The Museum of Fine Arts, The Gardner, the beautiful Central Library, and the Harvard Museum of Natural History. We had pretty good weather while we were there (only one day of pouring rain), so we enjoyed walking around places like Boston Common and the Public Gardens as well.

Digital Threads

Oh wow! The Textile Museum of Canada (already one of the coolest museums around) has just launched a wonderful web-based exhibition called Digital Threads. Check it out — I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Here’s the text from the press release: “Digital Threads is an interactive Web environment that highlights new digital artworks by Canadian artists Jennifer Angus, Joanna Berzowska, Kai Chan, Ruth Scheuing and Samuel Thomas. Internationally known for innovative work that challenges the boundaries of conventional textile arts, these five artists define new territory on the World Wide Web with dynamic projects that link to 50 exhibitions and thousands of textiles from the Textile Museum of Canada. Art and technology are fused in this project – both are creative acts, imaginative and committed to the process of discovery. Technology is not only used to deliver the content but is woven into the very fabric of the artists’ creative process. An example is Joey Berzowska’s responsive textile ensembles of the future that will not only change to camouflage stains but display the subtleties of the wearer’s mood. “I want to be able to control how aggressive my dress appears” says this artist.

This interactive project also has a studio for visitors to create their own digital work with components and concepts borrowed from the five artists – experiment with pattern, colour, shape, time and meaning. Digital Threads will also provide access to 17 years of the TMC’s exhibition programming. 50 past exhibitions are sorted into 5 themes (Myth and Science, Textiles in Everyday Life, Clothing and Communication, Moving across Cultures, and Nature, the Environment & Weird Materials). Explore these pages featuring approximately 180 contemporary artists, publicly available for the first time. Digital Threads will also make a growing number of the Textile Museum’s permanent collection available online with high detail zooming interactivity. The TMC has thousands of artifacts available in our publicly accessible database. Visitors are able to explore the collection of the TMC 24 hours a day, from anywhere in the world.”