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Artists, educators, curators, scholars, and collectors provide lectures and presentations that encourage greater understanding of the arts.

February 2016

Haitian Vodou Ceremonies, Songs, and Sacred Objects

February 26 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

This lecture will discuss Haitian Vodou ceremonies that are dedicated to spirits, called loa. Songs, drumming, and sacred objects such as flags, rattles, and drums are used in the salutation of the spirits. This presentation includes field photographs, music and audiovisual documentation to help place this great and noble religious tradition in context.
Benjamin Hebblethwaite has a Ph.D. in French Linguistics from Indiana University (2007) and he works as an Associate Professor at the University of Florida. He is the author of Vodou Songs in Haitian Creole and English (Temple University Press) and Yon sezon matchyavèl/Une saison en enfer (L’Harmattan), with Jacques Pierre. He has published articles on Haitian Creole historical linguistics, language policy in Haiti, Haitian Creole literacy, bilingualism among Haitian Americans in Miami, and comparative religion. He is currently working on the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded “The Archive of Haitian Religion and Culture” (The Vodou Archive) and a book project on Arabic and Islamic influences in contemporary French, German and Dutch cultures.

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March 2016

The Refined Art of Collection Building: An Evening with the Experts

March 3 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

The Birmingham Museum of Art and Christie’s present The Refined Art of Collection Building: An Evening with the Experts.

Diligence, discernment, and discipline are key ingredients to building a valuable collection, whether as an institution or an individual. Join the Birmingham Museum of Art and Christie’s for a panel discussion that explores the delicate process of assembling and managing a collection from both perspectives.

Gail Andrews: R. Hugh Daniel Director, Birmingham Museum of Art
Anne Forschler: Chief Curator and The Marguerite Jones Harbert and John M. Harbert III Curator of Decorative Arts, Birmingham Museum of Art
Nan Skier: Private Collector and Member of the Board of Trustees, Birmingham Museum of Art
Jody Wilkie: International Specialist Head of European Ceramics and Glass, Christie’s

Graham Boettcher: Deputy Director and The William C. Hulsey Curator of American Art, Birmingham Museum of Art

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Eivor and Alston Callahan Lecture: India’s Post-Partition Identity and the Cinematic Image

March 5 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

In August 1947, the Independence that India and Pakistan claimed was accompanied by a Partition of the Indian subcontinent, a geographic division that brought large-scale ethnic violence and mass migrations. Over a period of many months (and in the case of partitioned Bengal, years), at least fourteen million people—Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims—fled their homes and homelands, crossing over the newly created borders to become refugees. At least one million were killed in ethnically-charged riots and pogroms, and women by the tens of thousands (possibly more) were raped or abducted. This overwhelming tragic saga of religious conflicts, nationalist mobilizations, and plight of refugees came to constitute a critical aspect of politics and social life in independent India and informed popular culture in various ways. Yet, for several decades after, mourning and even memory of the events of 1947 and 1948 was suppressed. The trauma as well as the loss of “what might have been” was consciously and conspicuously ignored in most forms of public culture.

Coincidentally, the the years following Independence and Partition are regarded as the “Golden Age” of Indian cinema, and in these years the self-image of a new nation began to be narrated through film. This talk, given by Cathleen Cummings, Ph.D., will look at cinematic images of the 1950s and early 1960s and consider how Indian identity was being reformulated and articulated in the national cinema. Dr. Cummings will also consider ways in which the cinematic image helped mourn the nation’s collective trauma in indirect ways, and how the twin demands of forgetting and remembrance of Partition were negotiated, drawing from such films as Awara (Raj Kapoor, 1951), Pyaasa (Guru Dutt, 1957), and other classics of the era.

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