"Convergence" explored during Visual Culture Colloquium Oct. 3-4

by University Communications,

This Oct. 3 and 4, nearly 80 scholars will present panels, round table discussions and gallery exhibitions at the inaugural Visual Culture Colloquium, a collaboration of the Northwest Five Consortium funded by the Mellon Foundation.

Spanish and film studies professor Anna Cox, along with a committee of three professors from Whitman University, Lewis & Clark University and the University of Puget Sound, have been planning the colloquium for two years.

The event will rotate annually among the five members of the consortium, which also includes Reed College.

“Visual culture is the stripping of art history’s elitist connotations,” says Alex Geiszler '15, a Willamette art history student and Colloquium participant. “It’s deconstructing the notion of high and low art.”

Merging Disciplines

Most of the presentations — the topics of which range from photography to gender studies to mathematics — will occur in the film studies theater in Ford 122. A pop-up gallery and poster session on Oct. 3 will allow visitors to view art and interact with the artists. The Rogers Music Center and the Hallie Ford Museum of Art will host gallery exhibitions, and keynote speaker Toby Miller will present Oct. 3 in Ford 122.

“Convergence” is the theme of the presentations.

“The idea behind the theme was to bring together people from all these different disciplines,” Cox says. “Not just art and art history, which would normally be associated with visual culture, but to broaden that. So, we have creative, scholarly and pedagogical submissions.”

Miller, an interdisciplinary social scientist whose work concentrates on cultural and media studies, will deliver a talk titled “Trashing the Humanities to Save Them and Us.”

The keynote lecture explores how the convergence of art, sustainability and the humanities determines how the study of humanities can help address the environmental crisis.

Academic Interactions

Geiszler says he looks forward to participating in an academic setting outside of a classroom.

“It’s really nice because we will be able to interact with professors and students from other schools. I think this will be one of the most enlightening experiences of my college career,” he says.

Cox says she hopes the colloquium will facilitate new connections between scholars at the various universities.

“I hope that it will be a productive space for the exchange of ideas,” Cox says, “and for making people realize that what they are working on over at Whitman, for example, is probably very similar to some of the things that people here at Willamette are working on.

“This could foster new relationships and new exchanges in the future for people working on similar things. That’s really the main goal in my mind.”

The Northwest 5 Consortium is a Mellon-funded association that provides grant opportunities for collaborative projects between faculty members at the various institutions. The Visual Culture Colloquium is financed by the NW5C’s Fund for Collaborative Inquiry.

All colloquium lectures and events are free and open to the public. A full program of events is available online.

• Article by Emma Jonas ’15, creative writing major