Fairfield University hosts symposium based on resident Kress Study Collection


"Images & Ideas: Sacred and Secular Italian Art 1350-1750"

Fairfield University presents a multi-discipline panel of nationally recognized scholars - all experts in a variety of aspects concerning ancient Italian culture, art and history - for a lively and stimulating two-hour symposium entitled "Images & Ideas: Sacred and Secular Italian Art 1350-1750," at the Quick Center for the Arts' Wien Experimental Theatre, Thursday, March 27 at 10 a.m. The public is welcome to attend this free event, which is made possible through the support of a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the sponsorship of the departments of English, history, religious studies and visual and performing arts of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Using the resident Kress Study Collection of ten Italian paintings that span the 14th-18th centuries as a springboard, the four visiting scholars will speak on topics ranging from Sienese and Florentine relations to two ways of viewing painting: object d'art and historical document. The symposium presents a rare opportunity to view the collection, which details religious and secular themes, and, which will be on display and accessible to the panel for use as examples during the symposium.

Project Director Dr. Philip Eliasoph organized this scholarly forum cognizant of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation's wish to foster a scholarly discourse using the artwork as an impetus, as well as with regard to the intellectual enrichment a gathering of this caliber and diversity inspire. "Recognizing the keen interest in Italy's heritage of our Connecticut audience," he said, "we want to extend an open invitation for community participants to join us for a fascinating morning of art, ideas and a celebration of Renaissance and Baroque culture."

Dr. Eliasoph moderates a panel of scholars that includes: Dr. William Caferro, associate professor of history, Vanderbilt University; Dr. Margaret Miles, emeritus professor of historical theology, Graduate Theological Union; Dr. John Paoletti, Kenan professor of the humanities and professor of art history, Wesleyan University; and Dr. Deanna Shemek, professor of Italian and comparative literature, University of California at Santa Cruz.

In addition to Dr. Eliasoph, Fairfield University experts participating are: Dr. Mary Ann Carolan, director of Italian studies, Dr. Patricia Behre-Miskimin, associate professor of history, Dr. Elizabeth Dreyer, professor of religious studies, Dr. Mariann Regan, professor of English. Dr. Carolan will open the symposium with an overview.

The ten original paintings that serve as the symposium's point of reference are the result of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation's "Gift to America," which distributed more than 3,000 works of European art to more than 90 museums in the United States, Puerto Rico, and France. About 1,800 works of art were donated to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., while the rest went to regional and university museums. Fairfield's paintings were originally distributed in the 1960s to Bridgeport's Museum of Art, Science & Industry, now, the Discovery Museum.

The paintings came to Fairfield University in 2003 when the museum deaccessioned its art collection but wanted to respect the Kress Foundation's desire to keep the collection within the community. "We are delighted to share our gift of Renaissance and Baroque paintings from the Kress Foundation with the Fairfield and university communities," said Dr. Carolan. "The panelists at the symposium will elaborate on the intersecting worlds of history, literature, painting, and theology that inform the rich artistic patrimony of Italy."

The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are requested and can be made by calling John Primavera in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2459.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 27, 2008

Vol. 40, No. 193