Fall 2019: The Stanley Visual Classroom

The Stanley Visual Classroom (SVC) highlights the UI Stanley Museum of Art’s connections to students, faculty, and the community in its three fall exhibitions. Drawn from different artistic traditions and time periods, collective efforts link Contemporary Haitian Painting, The Disasters of War, and Follow Her Lead: Womanhood in African and Diasporic Arts.

Contemporary Haitian Painting features five paintings from the groundbreaking Haitian Art Collection at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, IA. This exhibition was curated in collaboration with Dr. Anny Curtius and her Spring 2019 graduate seminar “Francophone Thought.” Kimberly Musial Datchuk, assistant curator of special projects, guided the class through the process of researching and planning an exhibition. A formative moment occurred in May when the students held a video conference with Edouard Duval-Carrié, an artist in the show. Duval-Carrié’s generosity of time and willingness to share proved indispensable to understanding his work and that of his peers.


The Disasters of War also benefited from combined efforts of Chief Curator Joyce Tsai and faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dr. Anna Barker and Dr. Luis Martín-Estudillo. Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes produced the Disasters series between 1810 and 1814 in response to Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Spain during the Peninsular War (1807– 1814). The prints call the viewer to bear witness to the horrors of war. The series was so controversial that it was not printed until 1863, nearly forty years after Goya’s death. Coincidentally, 1863 was the year that Leo Tolstoy finished his first draft of War and Peace, which he published in installments. Like Goya’s Disasters, the novel calls attention to the atrocities of war—in this instance Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. This exhibition coincides with an exhibition at Special Collections in the UI Main Library and events at the Iowa City Book Festival (October 1–6, 2019) to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the full-volume publication of War and Peace.


As with The Disasters of War, Follow Her Lead: Womanhood in African and Diasporic Arts germinated from the rich cultural and intellectual milieu of Iowa City. The generative panel conversation at “Black Women Are the Future,” led by Cecilia C. Peters and hosted by the Center for Afrofuturist Studies and Public Space One at the Iowa City Public Library in March, informed Cory Gundlach’s conception of the exhibition. The exhibition examines gender dynamics in the production, use, and collection of African and diasporic art. While many African works in museum collections consist mainly of wooden sculptures made by men, African women had their own robust artistic traditions, most notably in the form of textiles and ceramics. Follow Her Lead calls attention to the ways in which women shaped culture and their own identities through these often- overlooked art forms. The exhibition includes recent acquisitions: a ceramic vessel by Simone Leigh and an Amazigh bridal ensemble.


The diverse fall exhibitions underscore the purpose of the SVC as a dynamic exhibition space that supports teaching, learning, and research at the University of Iowa. They are on view from July 30 until December 8.

Photos by Steve Erickson