Epilogue: “Whales in Cincinnati” in Leviathan

The perfect epilogue to this blog about the two Moby-Dick exhibitions in Cincinnati in 2016 is the review that Dawn Coleman published in the March 2017 issue of Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies.  Dawn, who is Director of Graduate Programs in the English Department of the University of Tennessee, had driven from Knoxville to Cincinnati to see the opening of both shows on the weekend of April 22-23.  Seeing the 2-man show at the the Contemporary Arts Center, followed by the 9-woman show at the Marta Hewett Gallery, inspired her to write her first-ever piece of art criticism.

Dawn Coleman at the Contemporary Arts Center, April 22, 2016

Her in-depth knowledge of Melville and her innate eye for pictorial art resulted in an review/essay that does justice to the achievements of each artist individually as well as in relation to the rich tradition of interpreting Moby-Dick pictorially.  The artists themselves as well as my co-curators fully share my deep appreciation for her ability to articulate so much of what we were hoping to achieve.;

Coleman Whales in Cincinnati

This entry completes my third book-length in blog in three years.  I had not expected to start up a new one right way, but things are happening with Emily Dickinson at NKU and Herman Melville in London that will have me launching a new e-voyage soon.

Marathon Saturday and Sunday, January 7 & 8, 2017

Entry begun Friday, January 13, 9:30 pm

View from second floor of Fairfield Inn early on Saturday morning

View from second floor of Fairfield Inn early on Saturday morning

At this time last Friday, we were saying good-bye to friends and colleagues at the Whaling Museum and walking a few blocks down to the Fairfield Inn, on the waterfront, for a good night’s sleep.  The one difficulty of having three days of meetings during the Marathon weekend in New Bedford is that our Culture Project team does not see as much as we would like of the Marathon itself.  On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings, we met for breakfast at 7:30 to choose our annual Bezanson Archive Scholar, select our art acquisition for 2017, determine priorities for our work in the Archive, monitor the inventory of our merchandise in the Museum Shop, plan for and process our official meetings with Museum staff, prepare for our Friday and Saturday panel presentations, prepare for our Saturday and Sunday Chats with the Scholars, and decide who will fill the reading times that had been set for us at the Marathon.  Although much of this weekend’s activity must be scheduled carefully in advance, even more seems to happen on the fly, just as a ship that leaves a safe harbor in the morning with an accurate knowledge of the tide tables can never be sure of the nature of the weather, the strength of the currents, or what kind of friend or stranger might be waiting around the next cape.

New snow up Union Street on the way to the Whaling Museum on Saturday morning

New snow up Union Street on the way to the Whaling Museum on Saturday morning

Seaman’s Bethel in light show on Saturday morning

Seaman’s Bethel in light show on Saturday morning

We had heard on Friday night that a snowstorm was expected the next day, perhaps strong enough to cause the authorities to shut down the city streets—as had happened a few years before.  From this point of view, we were very happy to be staying within walking distance of the Museum.  Our first scheduled event on Saturday was our annual Stump the Scholars quiz show at 10 in the morning, two hours before the start of the Marathon itself.  The walk up Union Street through a light coating of snow was fresh and enjoyable. We even went an extra block up Union Street so we could pass by the Seaman’s Bethel on the crest of Johnny Cake Hill before passing the Mariner’s House and turning in to the entrance of the Museum.

Entering the Whaling Museum on Saturday morning

Entering the Whaling Museum on Saturday morning

After checking out the new long-sleeve t-shirt we were selling in the Museum Shop, featuring the drawing of Queequeg by Matt Kish we had commissioned a few years ago, we entered the Museum Theater to choose sides for this year’s Stump the Scholars.  As always, our six-member Cultural Project team had split into two teams of three who would compete in fielding questions from the audience in the Theater.  As always, Michael Dyer was the emcee, convening the event with a high-octane riff, introducing the members of the competing teams, calling upon the sequence of audience members who had submitted questions in advance, and awarding the points for each answer that would determine this year’s winner.

Fast-fish team consulting on an answer while Mike Dyer, the loose-fish team, and the audience wait to hear it

Fast-fish team consulting on an answer while Mike Dyer, the loose-fish team, and the audience wait to hear it

This year, the team of three nearest Mike at the podium were the Loose Fish: Mary K Bercaw Edwards from the University of Connecticut, Jennifer Baker from New York University, and myself from Northern Kentucky University.  At the other end of the table were the Fast Fish: Chris Sten from George Washington University, Wyn Kelley from MIT, and Tim Marr form the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The audience for this event always includes a number of regulars who have spent the whole year trying to think of questions about Melville or Moby-Dick that would stump us.  We always get some great questions from newcomers too. I thought the most brilliant answer this year was the one Wyn Kelley gave to the man who asked us to name the newest invention that appears in the pages of Moby-Dick.  Neither team was able to name the invention the questioner he had in mind—the telegraphic cable recently laid across the Atlantic.  So he won one of the Stump the Scholar pins Mike had affixed to the front of the table for anyone who stumped us.  But Wyn won a number of bonus points in the contest between the two teams by suggesting that Captain Ahab is in essence inventing the concept of a robot when he orders the Carpenter to create for him “a complete man after a desirable pattern” who would be “fifty feet high in his socks,” with a “chest modeled on the Thames Tunnel,” but with “no heart at all, brass forehead, and about a quarter acre of fine brains.”

Stump the Scholar audience pondering the answers and refining their questions

Stump the Scholar audience pondering the answers and refining their questions

The most brilliant question came from the man in the vest four rows up and three seats from the right in the above photo.  The question itself was quite impossible to answer: “In which passage in the whole novel does Melville anticipate the political phenomenon of Donald Trump?”  Speaking for the Loose Fish, I prefaced my response by saying the answer would depend on what you thought of Trump himself.  Someone who deeply admires him, for example, might choose the passage in which Stubb harvests a fistful of precious “ambergris” from the bowels of a sick whale.  On the other hand, a reader who considers Trump a dangerous demagogue, might cite the passage in “Surmises” in which Ahab shrewdly calculates that “to accomplish his object [he] must use tools; and of all tools in the shadow of the moon, men are most apt to get out of order,” and must therefore must be continually manipulated.  That was a decent guess, but it was not the passage the pin-winning questioner had in mind.  He was thinking of the passage in “The Specksynder” in which Ishmael reflects on that “certain sultanism” in Ahab’s “brain” which becomes “incarnate in an irresistible dictatorship.  For be a man’s intellectual superiority what it will, it can never assume the practical, available superiority over other men, without the aid of some sort of external arts and entrenchments, always, in themselves, more or less paltry or base.  This it is, that for ever keeps God’s true princes of the Empire from the world’s hustings; and leaves the highest honors that his air can give, to those men who became famous more through their infinite inferiority to the choice hidden handful of the Divine Inert, than though their undoubted superiority over the dead level of the mass.”  One wonders what the sculpture of the eagle looming high above us as the questioner read this passage would think about our current political juncture.

 Eagle looming over this year’s Stump the Scholar session (RDT)

Eagle looming over this year’s Stump the Scholar session (RDT)

Original Del Tredici backpack art

Original Del Tredici backpack art

The audience always lingers after Mike Dyer declares the winner of the Stump the Scholars contest, as quite a community has built up over the years.  We scholars have to leave by about 11:15, though, as we have for the last few years been reading out the eighty consecutive passages in the “Extracts” section of Moby-Dick in the Lagoda Room before the Marathon proper begins with “Call me Ishmael” at noon.  Robert Del Tredici had been at the Stump the Scholar event (his first).  When it was over, he had asked if he could borrow my backpack.  I found out why when he returned it a little later with a beautiful white whale painted in its leather medallion.

Half-scale model of the Whaler Lagoda in the Bourne Building of the Whaling Museum

Half-scale model of the Whaler Lagoda in the Bourne Building of the Whaling Museum

Our reading of “Extracts” and the reading of the opening chapters of the novel takes place just beyond the stern of the Lagoda, the half-scale model of an actual whale ship housed in the Bourne Building of the Whaling Museum.  Reading the “Extracts” in advance of the opening chapters is an innovation introduced by James Russell in the annual marathon, and we Melville scholars love it.  Until you read—or hear—these passages out loud, you do not realize all of the ways in which they anticipate important moments in the action and imagery of the novel itself.  “Extracts” has always been a much overlooked element of the novel, and it is interesting that we began reading it as a prologue to the New Bedford Marathon only a few years before Matt Kish began his project of illustrating each of the eighty Extracts for last year’s exhibition in Cincinnati.

Tim Marr reading from “Extracts,” with Chris Sten on deck

Tim Marr reading from “Extracts,” with Chris Sten on deck

Father Mapple delivering the sermon in the Seaman’s Bethel (RDT)

Father Mapple delivering the sermon in the Seaman’s Bethel (RDT)

We wanted to stay in the Lagoda Room to hear Peter Whittemore launch this year’s Marathon with “Call me Ishmael,” but we all had meetings in the early afternoon which required that we find a place to have lunch during the opening chapters in the Lagoda Room as well during the chapters in the chapel to be read across the street in the Seaman’s Bethel.  Fortunately, Robert Del Tredici heard and saw the chapters we missed a got some fine photos while we were having lunch.  His photo here of Father Mapple preaching from the prow of the Bethel is iconic.  Equally striking in a different tonality is his photograph of Peter Gansevoort Whittemore, Melville’s great-great-grandson, with skeleton of a sperm whale.  Here we see the kind of pedigree few can claim.

Peter Gansevoort Whittemore with the skeleton of a sperm whale (RDT).

Peter Gansevoort Whittemore with the skeleton of a sperm whale (RDT).

Two sober sleepers at Tia Maria’s

Two sober sleepers at Tia Maria’s

Less weighty is the photo I took of two fellow customers as our Cultural Project team left Tia Maria’s Café, across from the Museum on Water Street, after lunch.  This cozy couple were each wearing what has until now been our most popular t-shirt at the Museum.  They were more than willing to bare the words on their matching chests: “Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.”  Back at the Whaling Museum I was happy to see our newest t-shirt on one of the clerks in the store.  She was equally happy to let us see Kish’s classy, tactile Queequeg on her chest.

World premiere of new Queequeg-Kish t-shirt at Museum Shop

World premiere of new Queequeg-Kish t-shirt at Museum Shop

My 2 o’clock appointment was in the Reading Room of the Whaling Museum Research Library.  I had invited three Moby-Dick artists to meet me there to see artwork relating to Melville from the flat file of our Melville Society Archive.  Mark Proknick, chief librarian of the Museum’s Research Library, oversees our Melville Soceity Archive when we are out of town.  The night before I had pulled a number of items from the flat file so he could bring up them into the Reading Room on Saturday.  These included 44 prints from Melville’s own collection of art, artist books by Tony de los Reyes and Claire Illouz, and several dozen original Moby-Dick drawings by Thanasis Christodoulou.   This is not the extent of the art in our Archive.  Works by Kathleen Piercefield, Aileen Callahan, Vanessa Hodgkinson, and Peter Martin that have been framed for exhibition are now kept for us in the storage area of the Museum itself.  Robert Del Tredici and Kathleen Piercefield were two of the three artists who would now be meeting me in the Reading Room.  The third was Duston Spear, an artist from New York State who is herself in the midst of a major Moby-Dick project. At our meeting at the hotel on Saturday morning, our Culture Project team decided to commission Duston as our Archive Artist in 2017.  So now we would have three Archive Artists in the Reading Room at the same time.

Duston Spear in Whaling Museum Reading Room (RDT)

Duston Spear in Whaling Museum Reading Room (RDT)

Duston Spear was the first to arrive.  I had met her for the first time at the dinner the night before, and was glad to hear more about the artistic residency she was hoping to make at the Whaling Museum later this year.  Our Cultural Project team had been impressed with her plans and had decided at our morning meeting to commission from her some new Moby-Dick work on paper that we could add to our flat file later this year.  Duston has recently been wrestling with the concept of “The Whiteness of the Whale,” and she had never seen Claire Illouz’s artist book The Whiteness.  We have one of only twenty-five copies in the world in the Melville Society Archive, so before the other artists arrived Duston and I examined that book very carefully.  Duston understood immediately the brilliance with which Illouz had decided to print the words she reproduced from Melville’s “Whiteness” chapter in embossing without ink as a way of optically replicating the conceptual challenge of reading the text.  Duston also admired the variety of printmaking techniques Illouz used in creating the engraved visual images in this book.  Later, I was delighted to see the photograph Robert Del Tredici had taken of Duston after joining us in the Reading Room.

Concluding sentences of “The Whiteness of the Whale” chapter embossed without ink in Illouz’s The Whiteness

Concluding sentences of “The Whiteness of the Whale” chapter embossed without ink in Illouz’s The Whiteness

The Death Struggle by Jackman after Deas, 1846 (RDT)

The Death Struggle by Jackman after Deas, 1846 (RDT)

Kathleen Piercefield was intimately acquainted with the copy of Illouz’s The Whiteness we have in the Steely Archive at Northern Kentucky University, but she had never had a chance to examine any of the 400-plus prints and engravings from Melville’s own collection of art that have surfaced since I discovered the first large bunch at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in the mid-1980s.  Kathleen’s own printmaking practice features intaglio and aquatint engraving as well as the monotype and collagraph techniques she has been employing recently, and she was delighted to see the 44 prints from Melville’s collection that the book collector William Reese had donated to the Melville Society Archive after rescuing them from the wastebasket of an estate sale in Pittsfield in the 1990s.  In addition to taking the group photograph seen below, Del Tredici took an individual photo of one of the few American prints in Melville’s collection as currently known—the apocalyptic Death Struggle by W. G. Jackman after C. Deas published in New York in 1846.

Looking at Italian, French, and English prints from Melville’s collection with Duston Spear and John and Kathleen Piercefield (RDT)

Looking at Italian, French, and English prints from Melville’s collection with Duston Spear and John and Kathleen Piercefield (RDT)

Christodoulou’s reproduction of his drawing of The Street (2002)

Christodoulou’s reproduction of his drawing of The Street (2002)

I was surprised and delighted to find that we spent the largest amount of time in the Reading Room carefully examining, and appreciatively discussing, the dozens of original Moby-Dick drawings that Thanasis Christodoulou of Volos, Greece, had donated to the Melville Society Archive several years ago.  Thanasis is a lawyer in Volos who was the first person to translate Moby-Dick into the Greek language.  He was also the co-host of the First International Melville Society Conference, held in Volos in 1997.   By then he had already begun to create small, evocative, meditative drawings inspired by Moby-Dick.  He has not stopped yet, and the ones he has donated to our Archive are powerful conceptually as well as visually.  He donated many of them in two versions—a large box of original drawings supplemented by a printed book in which in which each reproduction is accompanied by the text that inspired it in both Greek and English.  We all had our favorites as we sifted slowly through these riches, wishing only we had time to see them all.

Kathleen and John Piercefield, with Robert Del Tredici, looking a Christodoulou depiction of The Whiteness of the Whale

Kathleen and John Piercefield, with Robert Del Tredici, looking a Christodoulou depiction of The Whiteness of the Whale

Photo with Douglass on the way to the Oceanic Harvest (RDT)

Photo with Douglass on the way to the Oceanic Harvest (RDT)

While Kathleen and Bob were together, I want to make sure we had time to get over to the Oceanic Harvest exhibition so I could get a photo of each artist with his or her artwork.  On the way, Bob saw an image of Frederick Douglass in a Whaling Museum display and, knowing my deep admiration for Douglass, asked me to stop for the photograph you see here.  Once we got to our own exhibition, I invited Bob to stand wherever he wished along his own sequence of prints.  He stood at the heart of the Ahab trio, supplanting the Torn Body and Gashed Soul with his own questing face, with Coffin Tap and Strike the Sun on either side.

Robert Del Tredici in Oceanic Harvest gallery in New Bedford, January 7, 2017.

Robert Del Tredici in Oceanic Harvest gallery in New Bedford, January 7, 2017.

Kathleen Piercefield near The Affidavit at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, January 7, 2017

Kathleen Piercefield near The Affidavit at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, January 7, 2017

I would have liked to get a photo of Kathleen Piercefield near her larger-than-life Queequeg outside the entrance to this exhibition, but Jerry Beck’s Queequeg’s Coffin had been parked in front of it in the Harbor View Gallery before the Marathon Reading got under way.  The lighting at the far end of our little exhibition was not ideal on this frigid, cloudy afternoon, but it was enough to catch a decent photo of Kathleen in front of The Affidavit.  In the case immediately behind Kathleen, the copy of Kish’s Moby-Dick in Pictures open to image of Queequeg had changed its position from the photo I had taken the day before.

Piercefield’s Affidavit and Headwaters prints above Kish’s Moby-Dick in Pictures and 4 original drawings

Piercefield’s Affidavit and Headwaters prints above Kish’s Moby-Dick in Pictures and 4 original drawings

Ricardo Pitts Wiley joining Duston Spear and John and Kathleen Piercefield at the Whaling Museum

Ricardo Pitts Wiley joining Duston Spear and John and Kathleen Piercefield at the Whaling Museum

Duston Spear had come with us to the Oceanic Harvest gallery and the surprise arrival of Ricardo Pitts Wiley turned our cozy little artist gam into something more than I could have planned or imagined.  Before meeting Duston in person, I had told her about Ricardo because she will be teaching an art course involving Moby-Dick to inmates in a prison for women in New York later this year, whereas Ricardo had begun his script for the play that became Moby-Dick: Then and Now when working with inmates in a prison for males in Rhode Island.  And this was not all.  The one trip that Kathleen Piercefield had previously made from northern Kentucky to the East Coast had been to see Ricardo’s production of Moby-Dick: Then and Now at his Mixed Magic Theater in Pawtucket.  At the premiere of that production, she had exhibited several of her earliest Moby-Dick prints (including Queequeg in his own proper person, The Women of New Bedford, and From the Headwaters of the Eternities) with other works that had been created by students in my class in Moby-Dick and the Arts at Northern Kentucky University.  Kathleen was as happy to be reunited with Ricardo as Duston was to meet him for the first time.

Richard Pitts Wiley gamming John and Kathleen Piercefield and Duston Spear

Richard Pitts Wiley gamming with John and Kathleen Piercefield and Duston Spear

Ricardo Pitts Wiley meeting up with Robert Del Tredici again at the Whaling Museum (RDT)

Ricardo Pitts Wiley meeting up with Robert Del Tredici again at the Whaling Museum (RDT)

Nor was that all.  As soon Ricardo had reconnected with Kathleen from the Pawtucket premiere of his play, and been introduced to Duston as an artist keenly interested in Moby-Dick in relation to prisons, he recognized Robert Del Tredici as the other Moby-Dick artist who had attended the premiere of his Pawtucket play.  Ricardo had used one of Bob’s drawings in the announcement for the play and Bob had sold a number of his Moby-Dick prints at the Mixed Magic premiere.  This must be how it occasionally felt for 19th-century whalers when, after months, or even years, on the open seas without encountering sailors or ships they previously knew, they suddenly come across several former acquaintances in an impromptu gam such as we had in the Oceanic Harvest exhibition (Duston being the only one of the five who had not met up years before in Pawtucket).  I hope Ricardo will be able to visit Duston’s class this spring at the Bedford Correctional Facility for Women Prison for Women in Bedford Hills, New York.  If so, some of the energy from that encounter may make its way into the artist’s book that Duston is currently contemplating as one possible result from her residency at the Whaling Museum later in the year.

Ricardo and Duston in front of the Piercefield wall and Kish case, Kathleen looking on

Ricardo and Duston in front of the Piercefield wall and Kish case, Kathleen looking on

Marathon Readers waiting their turns to read

Marathon Readers, numbers on thier arms, waiting their turns to read

Our Cultural Project team had hoped to take our guest artists—now suddenly augmented by Ricardo—out to dinner at Brick, a wood-fire pizza restaurant a few blocks up Union Street.  We would have had to leave for the restaurant by 5:30 because Tim and I were scheduled to read in the Marathon at 7:20.  Because we had been in the Museum most of the day (apart from our short walk to Tia Maria’s for lunch) we did not know how strong the blizzard had become until we found out that Brick and all the other restaurants we knew in the city had been closed for the evening.  Tim and I were grateful the Whaling Museum was serving small cups of chowder as long as they lasted during the time we had planned to go out for dinner.  The worsening weather had thrown a wrench into the schedule for the Marathoners who were planning to read, since many were unable to leave their homes and none could park on the city streets.  Our 7:20 reading was to have followed immediately after the performance of the “Midnight—Forecastle” chapter by the Culture Park Theater  Company in New Bedford, but most of their actors were unable to make it.  The schedule was running nearly an hour behind by the time Tim and I got to read shortly after eight, but we had the pleasure, as we were waiting, of hearing all parts of “Midnight—Forecastle” read by one extremely eloquent, articulate actor.

Tim reading from “Moby Dick” chapter with Queequeg guarding the gallery entrance

Tim reading from “Moby Dick” chapter with Queequeg guarding the gallery entrance

I love “Moby Dick,” the chapter that immediately follows “Midnight—Forecastle,” but it’s a tough one to read in a Marathon.  There is no dialogue—only one long paragraph after another.  The sentences themselves are very long, some of them running ten to twelve lines and filled with semi-colons, commas, and dashes.  It was all I could do keep my place and read at an even pace—there was no room for the special emphasis I like to bring to a text when I know I am going to read it in advance.  That was one reason I was happy to turn the mike over to Tim.  The other is that he is a born reader, and is able to persuasively dramatize whatever he reads at first sight.  By the time Tim got to the passage in which Moby Dick “reaped away Ahab’s leg, as a mower a blade of grass in the field,” I could enjoy my perfect view of Piercefield’s Queequeg standing serenely at the other end of the room (with his lower legs, however, still blocked by Jerry Beck’s Coffin).

Walking through "blocks of blackness" on our way back to the Fairfield Inn

Walking through “blocks of blackness” on our way back to the Fairfield Inn

By the time our turn came to read, Tim and I had heard that several of our Melville Society colleagues had found their way to the one business still serving food that evening, a pub we had not previously visited.  By then, however, we were exhausted from our long day. So was our colleague Jennifer Baker.  So after Tim and I did our readings the three of us walked along Water Street and down Union Street to our hotel. This cold, bitter walk gave us a new appreciation for Ishmael’s description of the “very dark and dismal night” during which he had looked a place to stay upon arriving in New Bedford on a Saturday in December.  The streets were “bitingly cold and cheerless” as he walked through “blocks of blackness,” with “only here and there a candle.”  As we walked those streets, the snow was still blowing sideways, as you can see from the photo below.  I was identifiable in my dark coat primarily by the white whale Del Tredici hand drawn earlier in the day on the back of my backpack.  Fortunately, we already had a hotel to go to.  I slept very hard that night.  I was surprised, and impressed, the next morning when Tim told us he had walked back up to the Museum at 3 am to read in the midnight shift of the Marathon.  We heard later on Sunday that the official snowfall on Saturday, measured just before midnight, was 15.5 inches.

Del Tredici’s white whale on my backpack as Tim follows me home (TM)

Del Tredici’s white whale on my backpack as Tim follows me back to the Fairfield Inn (TM)

The next morning, when I heard about the impromptu gam that had taken place at the one pub that had stayed open the night before, I wished we had turned up, rather than down, Union Street on the way home.  Not only did Chris, Wyn, and Mary K find something good to eat and drink.  They ended up at a table with Bob Del Tredici (who had stopped before taking a bus to his hotel in the town of Dartmouth) and Ricardo Pitts Wiley (who had some time to kill before he was to read in the Marathon shortly before midnight).  The talk was apparently as good as the craft beer, and I would especially have liked to hear Bob and Ricardo discoursing on the dangers of our nuclear age, about which each has thought very deeply.  One of the photos Bob sent me after I got home showed how the blizzard had turned the whitened face of a bus into the equivalent of Ishmael’s description of the White Whale in the novel: “They say he has no face.”

Del Tredici’s photo of the front of a bus in New Bedford on January 7 (“They say he has no face”)

Del Tredici’s photo of the front of a bus in New Bedford on January 7 (“They say he has no face”)

View of the waterfront from second floor of the Fairfield Inn at sunrise Sunday morning

View of the waterfront from second floor of the Fairfield Inn at sunrise Sunday morning

Fortunately, the monster storm had entirely passed by Sunday morning, leaving only its residue of ice and snow.  Tim and I had worried about making our late afternoon flights from Boston’s Logan airport after the Marathon ended at 1 pm, but the totally clear skies in the morning seemed to promise that Wyn could drive us from New Bedford to the airport with time to spare.  After our breakfast business meeting to process everything had happened the day before, we walked up to the Whaling Museum to meet with two of its officers, Sarah Budlong and Sarah Rose, about an NEH Seminar for high school teachers were are hoping to co-sponsor in the summer 2018.  After the 9 am meeting, Wyn and I would leave at 9:30 to conduct the day’s “Chat with the Scholars” while Mary K and Wyn worked in the Archive and Tim and Jennifer went over more details of the proposed grant with the two Sarahs.

Wyn Kelley surrounded by our Sunday morning “Chat with the Scholars” group

Wyn Kelley surrounded by our Sunday morning “Chat with the Scholars” group

“Chat with the Scholars” is another tradition that began after James Russell arrived as President of the Whaling Museum.  Since we six Melville Society scholars are here for the entire Marathon weekend, he thought people who came to read might enjoy having an informal conversation with scholars who have devoted much of their lives to the novel.  Like the “Stump the Scholars” quiz show, this event has been very popular from the beginning, and we have been having two sessions each year.  I missed the Saturday session while meeting with the artists in the Reading Room, but I greatly enjoyed the “Chat” that Wyn and I had with those who came on Sunday.  Much of the discussion this morning was about Ahab and, more precisely, how much sympathy it is proper to feel for him when he is so heedless of other people’s lives and feelings.  Jeff Markham from New Trier High School near Chicago, who had read in the Marathon at 2:20 in the morning, introduced this question.  We were all grateful to him for doing so, as it led to a very good discussion and even to a certain amount of soul-searching.  This discussion paralleled the dynamics by which many visual and performing artists, female as well as male, have recently been exploring the inner life of Ahab with a new intensity.

Chris Sten at the Readers’ Desk while Wyn Kelley (only partially visible at the left) reads from a “Chase” chapter

Chris Sten at the Readers’ Desk while Wyn Kelley (only partially visible at the left) reads from a “Chase” chapter

Wyn Kelly and Chris Sten were scheduled to read at the very end of the Marathon, just before we all had to leave for our respective highways and airports, so at 11 in the morning we returned to Tia Maria’s for our last business lunch.  We have come to love this little Portuguese restaurant and we have not begun to exhaust its menu choices.  After lunch, several of us had last-minute details to attend to, so by the time Chris confirmed his presence at the reader’s desk, Wyn was already reading from one of the “Chase” chapters that ends novel.  The room was absolutely full and attentive, and in spite of all of the challenges to the schedule yesterday, the Marathon was now running a few minutes ahead.  Wyn and Chris read very clearly and movingly, as always, as did James Russell when he read the “Epilogue” and officially brought the 2017 Marathon to an end.

Chris Sten reading from the Third (and last) Day of the Chase

Chris Sten reading from the Third (and last) Day of the Chase

Jennifer Baker and I had found the entire Harbor View Gallery full when we arrived to hear the last chapters of the Marathon Reading, so we listened from inside the Oceanic Harvest exhibition space.  When I took the photo below that concludes this blog entry, I was happy that Wyn was clearly visible as she read from the far end of the Harbor View Gallery—while Queequeg seemed to be listening from here in our cozy exhibition space.  I had been aware that Monica Namyar’s bust of Queequeg was looking out toward the harbor of New Bedford as this year’s Marathon was ending, but I was not aware that my Melville colleague Jennifer Baker was doing the same until I uploaded the photos from my iPhone.  Quite naturally, presumably without forethought, she was enacting the outer posture and inner vision of those “watergazers” who on the first page of the novel are “posted like silent sentinels” around the shoreline of New York City, to which Jennifer would be returning this evening, “fixed in ocean reveries.”

Wyn Kelley reading from the end of the novel while Queequeg and Jennifer Baker listen

Wyn Kelley reading from the end of the novel while Queequeg and Jennifer Baker listen

Moby-Dick e-Voyage drops Anchor at New Bedford Marathon

Entry begun at 7:30 pm on plane from Boston to Cincinnati, Sunday, January 8, 2017          

James Russell reading "Epilogue"

James Russell reading “Epilogue”

This e-Voyage is ending where Herman Melville’s whaling voyage began.  Melville sailed from New Bedford on the whaler Acushnet for the South Seas on January 3, 1841.  The 21st Annual Moby-Dick Marathon ended in the Harbor View Gallery of the New Bedford Whaling Museum on Sunday, January 8, 2017.  After Museum president James Russell ended the Marathon by reading the “Epilogue,” the Harbor View audience applauded not only the story but themselves, having endured a bitter blizzard that had dropped fifteen inches of snow and shut down the city’s streets as the Marathon began the day before.

Marathon audience in the glare of the Harbor View windows during the last “Chase” chapter

Marathon audience in the glare of the Harbor View windows during the last “Chase” chapters

I was looking out over the harbor from inside the Harbor View Gallery as the last words of the novel were spoken.  Yesterday’s storm having passed, the deep blue of the river now reflecting the bright blue of the sky, the open sea was as inviting it had been on the day Melville had sailed.

View out the Harbor View window at the end of the 2017 New Bedford Moby-Dick Marathon

View out the Harbor View window at the end of the 2017 New Bedford Moby-Dick Marathon

Kathleen Piercefield assembling the components for a new print on December 29, 2015

Kathleen Piercefield assembling the components for a new print on December 29, 2015

This e-Voyage began in September 2015, when I was deep into planning for the two Moby-Dick exhibitions that would open in Cincinnati in April 2016—the 2-man show at the Contemporary Arts Center and the 9-woman show at the Marta Hewett Gallery.  In September of that year, Matt Kish was well under way with a brand new series of eighty-one Extracts drawings for the CAC show for which Robert Del Tredici was himself creating dozens of new “metallic” prints beyond those we had already planned to have in the show.  Of the nine women who were to open the Marta Hewett show in April, the six who were from the greater Cincinnati area had already met in July to begin sharing ideas.  These local artists were to meet again in October and in December as their ideas for new works continued to develop.  By the time of our December meeting we had acquired a third out-of-town artist.  Aileen Callahan of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Claire Illouz of Chérence, France, had been part of the show from the beginning, but now Julia Oldham from Eugene, Oregon, had joined our group.  When our local group met at the Marta Hewett Gallery in December, Kathleen Piercefield was just beginning to assemble the ingredients of the print she was to exhibit as Women of New Bedford—Captain’s Wives in April.

Kathleen Piercefield’s Women of New Bedford—Captain’s Wives at Marta Hewett Gallery in April

Kathleen Piercefield’s Women of New Bedford—Captain’s Wives at Marta Hewett Gallery in April

When Elizabeth Schultz came to give gallery talks at both the CAC and Marta Hewett shows in May, she decided to acquire this Women of New Bedford for the Schultz Collection of Moby-Dick art she had recently established at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  It was highly appropriate for this print to go there, since the women in the print were actual whaler’s wives from New Bedford in a photograph from the mid-nineteenth century.  Piercefield had drawn on images of the city of New Bedford itself, and of its whale ships at sea, for the other components of this composite image, so it was highly appropriate to have this print on display as part of our Oceanic Harvest exhibition of newly acquired Moby-Dick artwork at the Moby-Dick Marathon in January 2017.   At the conclusion of the 2016 Marathon in the Harbor View Gallery, I had been impressed by the panoramic vista of the city on the mural that provided a backdrop for the readers.  Piercefield’s image of the city in the new Women of New Bedford print was quite similar, and the same mural was again used as a backdrop in 2107, so I was glad that we could install her print in a way that could show the similarity.

The city of New Bedford in the Piercefield print and the Harbor View mural on installation day, January 6, 2017

The city of New Bedford in the Piercefield print and the Harbor View mural on installation day, January 6, 2017

Sarah Mitchell and Christina Connett measuring the space for the seven Del Tredicis

Sarah Mitchell and Christina Connett measuring the space for the seven Del Tredicis

Installing this show was a great pleasure.  During the month of December, Christina Connett, chief curator of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and I had finalized the works in the show.  I had sent texts for the wall panels and labels in advance, but we did not begin the actual installation until I arrived at the museum on the afternoon of January5, the day before the official opening.  I enjoyed making suggestions about where various works might go, but Christina and her installation guru Sarah Mitchell did the actual installation.  We had eleven new artworks to hang.  The seven new metallic prints by Robert Del Tredici were the 2016 acquisition for the Melville Society Archive.  Three Kathleen Piercefield prints and one Monica Namyar sculpture were newly acquired for the Schultz Collection.  Added to these were individual Piercefield prints previously acquired by the Archive and Schultz collections.  It made sense to run the seven new Del Tredici prints in sequence along the longest wall of the  exhibition space, so Sarah and Christina began to make their measurements.  Because we had seven prints, Sarah decided to hang one in the middle and then space the others equally on either side.

Sarah hanging the first of seven Del Tredicis

Sarah hanging the first of seven Del Tredicis

Torn Body and Gashed Soul flanked by Coffin Tap and Strike the Sun

Torn Body and Gashed Soul flanked by Coffin Tap and Strike the Sun

I knew from the beginning that I wanted Ahab’s Torn Body and Gashed Soul as the one in the center.  It is the one horizontal among six verticals and it depicts the moment in Ahab’s life from which all else follows.  This is the moment when, dismembered on the voyage home after Moby Dick has taken his leg, “Ahab and anguish lay stretched together in one hammock.”  In this moment, “his torn body and gashed soul bled into one another, and so interfusing, made him mad.”  Del Tredici had avoided Ahab and his madness in most of his earlier art inspired by the novel, but here he goes to the core.  The prints we mounted immediately on either side show that madness and anguish playing out in the action of the novel itself.  In Coffin-Tap on the left, “every stroke of his dead limb sounded like coffin-tap” as “on life and death he walked.”  In Strike the Sun on the right, we feel the full force of Ahab’s declaration that he would “strike the sun if it insulted me.”  As we were hanging these prints, Sarah Mitchell was very happy to be able to use a new lazer beam installation tool which allowed her to draw a virtual horizon line directly across the gallery wall instead of having to measure physically from the floor to the bottom of each new print.  For me, the crosshairs of its red laser beam only made Ahab’s plight more frightening.

The seven new Del Tredici print in the Melville Society Archive at the New Bedford Whaling Museum

The seven new Del Tredici prints entering the Melville Society Archive at the New Bedford Whaling Museum

Black Parliament and Bottom of the Sea  

Black Parliament and Bottom of the Sea

As a prelude to the three central Ahabs, we mounted prints inspired by the early New Bedford chapters at the far left.  Black Parliament depicts the moment in chapter two in which Ishmael, looking for an inn, accidentally enters a black church and sees “a hundred black faces” peering back at him.  Bottom of the Sea depicts the passage in which Father Mapple, about to preach in the Seaman’s Bethel, “folded his large brown hands across his chest, uplifted his closed eyes, and offered a prayer so deeply devout that he seemed kneeling and praying at the bottom of the sea.”  As always, the New Bedford Marathon enacted the “Chapel” chapters in the same Seaman’s Bethel in which Melville had set the.  This year, Robert Del Tredici was on hand to photograph the reenactment the recreation of the scene that had inspired his print.

Father Mapple about to take his congregation to the “bottom of the sea” in the 2017 Marathon

Father Mapple about to take his congregation to the “bottom of the sea” in the 2017 Marathon (RDT)

Ubiquitous and Rings of Eternity in the Oceanic Harvest exhibition

Ubiquitous and Rings of Eternity in the Oceanic Harvest exhibition

The most powerful antidote to Ahab’s mad anguish in the novel is the spiritual expansiveness with which Ishmael comes to embrace cosmic symbolism of the White Whale as a living creature and of Queequeg as a bosom friend.  These qualities Del Tredici captures in the two prints at the far right of our central well, Ubiquitous and Rings of Eternity.  Each of Del Tredici’s prints embeds the textual passage that has inspired it.  The Ubiquitous text comes from the “Moby Dick” chapter, the same chapter that inspired Ahab’s Torn Body and Gashed Soul.  This print is Del Tredici’s rendering of Ishmael’s “unearthly conceit that Moby Dick was ubiquitous, that he had actually been encountered in opposite latitudes at one and the same instant of time.” We see and feel a different kind of cosmic interfusing in Rings of Eternity, Del Tredici’s visualization of the moment in “Queequeg in his Coffin” in which Ishmael sees the eyes of his dying friend “growing fuller and fuller” until, “like circles on the water,” they “seemed rounding and rounding, like the rings of Eternity.”

Robert Del Tredici, Rings of Eternity, mixed-media print on archival Fuji metallic paper, 2015

Robert Del Tredici, Rings of Eternity, mixed-media print on archival Fuji metallic paper, 2015

The Women of New Bedford the Melville Society Archive acquired in 2009

The Women of New Bedford that the Melville Society Archive acquired in 2009

Once we had hung the seven Del Tredici prints in the sequence outlined above, it seemed natural to display the four Piercefield prints in a way that would match, and enhance, the narrative and spiritual rhythms we had established with his.  Immediately inside the entrance, on either side of the open doors, we hung the two Women of New Bedford prints, the one from 2016 with the Captain’s Wives newly arrived in the Schultz Collection, and the one from 2004 with the female figurehead we had acquired for the Melville Society Archive in 2009.  In these depictions of women of New Bedford, contemplating what their men were doing at sea in their multi-year voyages, we have perfect counterparts to the experience of Ishmael arriving in the same city in advance of his first whaling voyage.  When we finally got each of these properly installed, we had a good view through the open doors of the panoramic mural of New Bedford that was to serve as the backdrop for the Marathon Reading the next day.  Its final position not yet determined by the Museum staff, Jerry Beck’s sculpture entitled Queequeg’s Coffin, which had arrived as part of the Schultz Collection years earlier, was still what Ishmael would call a “loose fish,” rolling across the Harbor View Gallery on a dolly.

Piercefield’s Women of New Bedford prints on either side of the inner doorway

Piercefield’s Women of New Bedford prints on either side of the inner doorway

Piercefield’s Affidavit from the 2016 Marta Hewett show, now in the Schultz Collection in New Bedford

Piercefield’s Affidavit from the 2016 Marta Hewett show, now in the Schultz Collection in New Bedford

Both logistically and aesthetically, it made perfect sense to display our other two Piercefields at the other end of the gallery, near Del Tredici’s Ubiquity and Rings of Eternity.  On the left side of the far wall we mounted The Affidavit, who five sporting whales, beautifully individualized, joyously moving in concert, complement and expand the spirit of Del Tredici’s Ubiquitous.  To its right we mounted From the Headwaters of the Eternities, the Piercefield print from 2004 that came to the Whaling Museum as part of the original Schultz donation in 2012.  I like to think of this print as cetacean equivalent of the Rings of Eternity as depicted by Del Tredici.  Here in its unmolested harmony is cosmic energy of the natural world before the “all grasping western world” began to tear it apart for pleasure and profit.

Piercefield’s From the Headwaters of the Eternities in the Schultz Collection at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Piercefield’s From the Headwaters of the Eternities in the Schultz Collection at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Four Kish drawings in the sequence of the published book

The original drawings for pages 10, 334, 363, and 465 of Moby-Dick in Pictures

Underneath the two Piercefields at the far end of the room we had a case displaying four original drawings by Matt Kish never seen in public.  These are the drawings for pages 10, 334, 363, and 465 of Moby-Dick in Pictures that had entered the Schultz Collection at the Whaling Museum a few years after the original donation.  Included in the case was a boxed hard-cover edition of the book for which they were made, open to page 465 so viewers could compare the original drawing with its reproduction.  The facing page 464 features one of Kish’s many depictions of Queequeg.

Kish's drawing for page 465 below its reproduction in the book

Kish’s drawing for page 465 below its reproduction in the book

Monica Namyar’s Queequeg in the center of the Oceanic Harvest (RDT)

Monica Namyar’s Queequeg in the center of the Oceanic Harvest (RDT)

The last work to be installed within the Oceanic Harvest exhibition was the sculptured bust of Queequeg that Monica Namyar had created in the summer of 2016 after the Marta Hewett exhibition had closed.  Elizabeth Schultz had greatly admired the six ceramic works by Namyar she had seen in the Cincinnati show, and she decided to add Namyar’s three-dimensional depiction of Queequeg to the Schultz Collection at the Whaling Museum soon after seeing photographs of it.  The Schultz collection is rich in paintings, prints, and artist books, but this is its first work in three-dimensions.  The oceanic imagery from the Maori culture with which Namyar tattoos Queequeg’s shapely head (imagery she had come to love when studying ceramics in Australia) beautifully condenses the spirit of this Oceanic Harvest exhibition while communing with the Rings of Eternity and Headwaters of the Eternities in Del Tredici and Piercefield’s nearby prints.

Namyar’s Queequeg with Piercefield’s Affidavit and From the Headwaters of the Eternities

Namyar’s Queequeg with Piercefield’s Affidavit and From the Headwaters of the Eternities

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Top two panels of Piercefield’s larger-than-life Queequeg

The one new acquisition I have not yet shown is Kathleen Piercefield’s larger-than-life Queequeg in his own proper person, created in 2004 and donated by Elizabeth Schultz to the Whaling Museum in 2016.   I had originally thought that this work would hang in the exhibition space with the other new acquisitions, but when I arrived at the Museum on the day before the opening I saw that it had been mounted outside of the exhibition entrance because it was too tall to fit inside (92 x 40 inches). This worked very well for the exhibition itself, as it would be hard to imagine a more evocative or commanding image to embody the theme of Oceanic Harvest.  Not only did this multi-media print mounted on eight canvas panels introduce the Oceanic Harvest exhibition.  It also served as the presiding spirit of the Marathon itself—which, after opening in the Lagoda Room and moving to the Seaman’s Bethel, occupied the the Harbor View Gallery on whose back wall Piercefield’s Queequeg was mounted throughout all the chapters at sea.

Queequeg in his own proper person at the entrance to the Oceanic Harvest exhibition

Queequeg in his own proper person at the entrance to the Oceanic Harvest exhibition

Opening the Oceanic Harvest exhibition before the Friday night dinner and panel discussion

Opening the Oceanic Harvest exhibition before the Friday night dinner and panel discussion

During the morning on Friday I was working out details of the exhibition while my Melville Society colleagues were bring everything up to date in our Archive.  Sarah and I had all of the artworks mounted and labels in place by the time some students from the Rhode Island School of Design arrived for a preview of the exhibition at 2 in the afternoon.  The official opening of the exhibition, followed by a catered dinner in the Harbor View Gallery, was scheduled for 5:30 in the evening.  The tradition of a Friday-night pre-Marathon dinner followed by a lecture was started by James Russell soon after arriving at the Museum.  It has been increasingly popular every year, and this year we had over ninety guests who purchased dinner in advance and stayed for a panel discussion on “Religion in Moby-Dick” after the dinner.  I was delighted that Kathleen Piercefield, from Northern Kentucky, and Robert Del Tredici, from Montreal, both came to New Bedford for the entire Marathon weekend, beginning with the Friday night dinner.  After Christina  and I opened the exhibition with some curatorial remarks, Kathleen and Bob shared some thoughts with the audience before the dinner began.

Friday night dinner with Kathleen Piercefield and Robert Del Tredici both at central table

Friday night dinner with Kathleen Piercefield and Robert Del Tredici both at central table

Michael Dyer, Senior Marine Historian at the Whaling Museum, moderated the panel on “Melville and Religion” with his customary panache.  Each member of our six-person Melville Society Cultural Project team, gave a six-to-eight minute presentation followed by a wide-ranging series of questions from the audience.

Religion panelists being introduced (from left):  Bob Wallace, Mary K Bercaw Edwards, Jennifer Baker, Chris Sten, Wyn Kelley, Tim Marr (RDT)

Religion panelists being introduced (from left):  Bob Wallace, Mary K Bercaw Edwards, Jennifer Baker, Chris Sten, Wyn Kelley, Tim Marr (RDT)

Tim Marr discussing the “Cassock” chapter

Tim Marr discussing the “Cassock” chapter (RDT)

I am very fortunate in my five colleagues on the Melville Society Cultural Project team.  We come to New Bedford twice a year to tend to our Archive and plan programming and exhibitions with the Whaling Museum staff.  We have had a rotating group of six since our affiliation began in 2001, and our current group has been together throughout the current decade.  Because we are always working together as a team, it is a special treat to hear each other make individual presentations, as we did on Friday night.  We each addressed an entirely different element of the many religious concerns in the novel, which, along the compact nature of our opening statements, made for a very robust and stimulating question-and-answer session. The photo below shows the attentiveness of the audience as Philip Hoare, who writes about Melville from England, asks a question.

Attentive audience during question-and-answer session

Attentive audience during question-and-answer session

We never know who is going to show up at these Friday night dinners.  Many of us had not seen Milton Reigelman, who teaches at Centre College in Kentucky, since the summer of 2009, when he was co-director of our International Conference on Melville and Joseph Conrad in Poland.  A photo with him after the panel on religion was the perfect way to end the evening.  At 10 am the next morning, the first day of the Marathon Reading, we would be back for another six-person event moderated by Michael Dyer.  That event, followed by the Marathon itself, will be the subject of my next entry.

Milton Reigelman with presenters on Melville and Religion

Milton Reigelman with presenters on Melville and Religion

Frederick Douglass in DC and Gilbert Stuart in the Shenandoah Valley

Entry begun on Wednesday, December 28, 10:45 pm

I had expected the previous entry to be the last one I would write or post in 2016.  But just as with Ishmael in the opening pages of Moby-Dick, “those stage managers, the Fates,” have somehow intervened.  It was actually the invitation to see a play—the Lookingglass Theatre  production of Moby Dick from Chicago, at the Arena Stage in Washington DC—that prompted my decision to make a quick visit to the East Coast soon after posting final grades for my Fall Semester courses.  My former NKU colleague Tom Zaniello, now living in Washington, had invited me to come to see this production as soon as he heard about it earlier this year, and he met me at National Airport when I arrived in the early afternoon on Monday, December 19.  By then, we had planned three jamb-packed days before I would fly back to Cincinnati on Friday morning.  The beautiful sunset when Tom picked me up from the East Wing of the National Gallery later on Monday afternoon heralded the glorious weather we would enjoy the rest of the week.

z-comes-closer

Sunset from entrance to East Wing of National Gallery as Tom turns in to pick me up

The invitation to see the Moby-Dick play had prompted this visit to DC, but the book I am writing on Frederick Douglass and Cincinnati drove its agenda.  Ever since I learned that Gilbert Stuart’s 1809 Boston portraits of the parents of Sarah Otis Ernst, the Cincinnati heroine of my Douglass book, were now at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Virginia, I had hoped to make a visit there.  Tom told me this would be an easy day trip from DC, so I made an appointment to see those paintings on the Tuesday of my visit.  Tom, in the meantime, arranged with his friend Bob Grogg, who had worked for the National Park Service at Harper’s Ferry, to meet us in that historic town on Tuesday morning on our way to Winchester.  I had never been to Harper’s Ferry.  The closest I had thus far come to it was reading Herman Melville’s tribute to John Brown in his poem “The Portent (1859),” which begins with these haunting lines: “Hanging from the beam, / Slowly swaying (such the law), / Gaunt the shadow on your green, / Shenandoah!”  No such portents as yet haunted us as Tom, his wife Fran, and I got our first glimpse of Harper’s Ferry from the right side of Tom’s Suburu as he drove us over a downstream bridge from that hillside town.

Looking upstream to Harper’s Ferry from passenger seat of Tom’s Suburu

Looking upstream to Harper’s Ferry from passenger seat of Tom’s Suburu

Empty town on Tuesday morning

Empty town on Tuesday morning

The air was cloudless but subfreezing on this shivery morning.  Thronged with tourists in the summer, the town itself was nearly empty, ourselves and stark shadows our only companions.  Bob and his wife Ann were ideal guides to Harper’s Ferry and its history, and what we learned from them was supplemented by excellent displays and videos in buildings to which we were the only visitors.  The most moving spots, for me, were the Fire House in which John Brown and his associates had been captured, and the confluence of the two rivers which shaped the topography, the economy, and the strategic importance of this 19th century town.  I loved the downstream prospect from the point where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, looking straight down to the bridge we had crossed earlier in the morning.  Bob pointed out how the Chesapeake and Ohio canal and its tow path had been tucked in between the railroad tracks and the river’s edge beneath the rugged mountain wall beyond the rusty bridge, and I was interested in the information about the “Race to Ohio” in the historical text on our side of the river.  I had been aware for some time of commercial importance to Cincinnati when the Baltimore and Ohio railroad reached the rail lines of Ohio in the early 1850s, but until now I had no idea of where it had cut through the Alleghenies to get there.

hf-convergebnce

Tight, expansive transport hub in 1850s

One of the most interesting objects we saw in a Harper’s Ferry museum was a  “Political Chart of the United States” created in Springfield, Ohio, in 1856 as part of the campaign to elect John Fremont as the Republican Party’s first-ever nominee for President of the United States.  The demographic information mobilized for this chart is strategically deployed to show how a small number of slaveholders in the South still held a chokehold over the politics and economy of the North.  The Republicans lost the national election that year, but they made enormous strides toward becoming the party that would elect Lincoln in 1860 and then, inspired in part by John Brown’s martyrdom at Harper’s Ferry, win the Civil War.

1856 Republican Party campaign poster from Springfield, Ohio

1856 Republican Party campaign poster from Springfield, Ohio

Bob and Ann Grogg live in a beautiful 18th-century farmhouse on the way from Harper’s Ferry to Winchester, so they treated us to a lovely lunch on our way to the Shenandoah museum.  Before leaving Harper’s Ferry we visited the historic graveyard overlooking the confluence of the two rivers where three states meet.

Looking downstream from the cemetery above the town of Harper’s Ferry

Looking downstream from the cemetery above the town of Harper’s Ferry

Gilbert Stuart’s 1809 portrait of George Alexander Otis

Gilbert Stuart’s 1809 portrait of George Alexander Otis, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

I have been eager to see Gilbert Stuart’s paintings of Sarah Otis Ernst’s parents, now in Winchester, Virginia, because during four years of intense research in Cincinnati I have found no image of Sarah herself.  At first my wish to see these paintings at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley appeared doomed.  I learned shortly before our visit that these two paintings had recently been removed from the galleries and returned to storage.  Moreover, the curator of the museum was to be absent on Tuesday, the only day we could visit.  Our day was saved by Nancy Huth, the Museum’s Deputy Director of Arts and Education.  I had known Nancy when she was Education Director of the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati.  But I had not known until now that the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley was the one at which she had recently taken a new job.  Nancy arranged for me to see the two Gilbert Stuart portraits in storage.  She also shared some of the research she had recently done on Sarah Ernst’s parents, George Alexander Otis and Lucinda Smith.  I was particularly interested in Sarah’s mother’s portrait because it was completed in 1809, the year Sarah herself was born.  Communing with Gilbert Stuart’s painted image of Sarah’s mother in the storage room of the Shenandoah Valley Museum may be the closest I ever come to knowing what Sarah Otis Ernst looked like, and how it may have felt to be in her presence.

Gilbert Stuart’s 1809 portrait of Lucinda Smith, Mrs. George Alexander Otis

Gilbert Stuart’s 1809 portrait of Lucinda Smith, Mrs. George Alexander Otis, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

Hand-wrought grave marker for Solomon Williams’ wife

Hand-wrought grave marker for Solomon Williams’ wife

The Zaniellos and I had greatly enjoyed our day trip to Harper Ferry and Winchester on Tuesday, but Wednesday was even better.  This was another double-header, our visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the daytime followed by the Lookingglass Moby Dick in the evening.  I had wanted to visit the new African American Museum ever since reading Vincent Cunningham preview of its contents in the August 29 issue of The New Yorker.  I loved the concept of the five-story ascent beginning in the underground bedrock in the origins of African enslavement and the Middle Passage before moving up through American enslavement, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights movement into the light of day as one was finally prepared, mentally, emotionally, and imaginatively, for the extraordinary release of African American talent and expertise to be experienced in the Community and Culture Galleries high above ground level.  I had also been intrigued by Cunningham’s emphasis on the soon-to-be-installed fine art gallery on the fourth floor as a place where “you could go from Robert Duncanson to Carrie May Weems.” Robert Duncanson has become increasingly important in my work on Cincinnati antislavery, so I was curious to see how his paintings would look in the context of this new museum.  By the time I visited the Zaniellos in mid-December, there were no tickets available to visit the Museum until March.  Fortunately, Tom had gotten our tickets well in advance.

Tom and Fran Zaniello on our way to the new African American Museum on another clear, cold morning

Tom and Fran Zaniello on our way to the new African American Museum on another clear, cold morning

Fellow visitors as we waited for the elevator to take us down

Fellow visitors as we waited for the elevator to take us down

Our tickets were for the 10 am opening, so we missed some of the crowd that flowed through the Museum the rest of the day.  Even so, we were three among a multitude as we waited for the elevator to take us down to the lowest level of the history galleries.  I was struck by the strong, yet subtle range of anticipation and coloration in our collective faces.  I was also struck by the size and placement of the image of Frederick Douglass among the photo reproductions that framed the elevator.  Here we see the stern and fully mature Frederick Douglass—in the englargment of a copy print from a lost daguerreotype or ambrotype c. 1858.  Considerably smaller, two levels below him, is a photo of Abraham Lincoln, still with room to grow, as the Republican candidate for President in August 1860.

Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln in photo collage framing the elevator down

Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln in photo collage framing the elevator down

Young Frederick Douglass and his 1845 Narrative

Young Frederick Douglass and his 1845 Narrative

Since I have been thinking hard about Douglass for many years, and teaching him with great pleasure to a class of eighteen graduate students during the recently concluded semester, I was fascinated to see what role he might play during my ascent from the lowest level of the historical gallery up toward the ground level (where, more emotionally than physically exhausted, I slowly consumed a dish of Creole gumbo in the Sweet Home Café before ascending to the more contemporary Community and Culture Galleries).  I was pleased to see Douglass richly represented all the way through, from a copy of his 1845 Narrative near an enlargement of the youthful photo that had been used as its frontispiece, on to full folio pages from both his North Star paper and Frederick Douglass’s Paper, and up through to the conclusion of the Civil War (at the beginning of which he had severely criticized President Lincoln and his policies before the friendship developed in which they worked together to end the war).  One of the most touching items for me in the entire Museum was a photograph of Douglass after the Civil War accompanied by a cane with hand-carved illustrations from his third autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

Post-Civil War photo of Douglass next to cane carved with scenes from his Life and Times

Post-Civil War photo of Douglass next to cane carved with scenes from his Life and Times

As much as I had been intrigued by Cunningham’s preview of the African American Museum in The New Yorker in late August, I enjoyed even more the review of the Museum that Wesley Morris published in The New York Times on Monday of this week, December 26.  Morris, too, was entranced by the “endless hues of skin” among “the faces of the hundreds of people waiting with you” for the elevator down into the historical galleries.  He, too, was “devastated” moving through the Middle Passage, especially by the “registry-like wall of ships” that had transported the enslaved Africans, their “dates of disembarkation” followed by the number of slaves on board and the “the number of survivors.” (I had noted one ship in which only 82 of more than 400 passengers had survived.).  Morris had also been deeply struck (as so many of us were) by the statue of Thomas Jefferson behind which are arranged “rows and rows of bricks painted with the names of some of his slaves.”  Just is Jefferson is shadowed by bricks representing his own slaves in the museum Morris calls “the Blacksonian,” so is Abraham Lincoln “bound” to Frederick Douglass.  “Lincoln is not a hero at the Blacksonian.  He’s a man with a nagging mandate from Douglass to do the right thing.  He’s another brick in the wall.”

Douglass and Lincoln side by side at the “Blacksonian”

Douglass and Lincoln framing troops who helped to win the war

One of the most hotly contested issues with regard to the landscapes that African American artist Robert Duncanson painted in Cincinnati during the 1850s is whether or not they express any “double consciousness” on the painter’s part of being a non-white painter in a white-dominated culture.  For this reason I was interested to see that Vinson Cunningham in late August considered Duncanson’s “stately” The Garden of Eden, “painted thirteen years before emancipation,” to be “a paradise, leafy and mountainous but also unsettlingly dark.  The figures of Adam and Eve are distant and barely distinguishable from the wilderness beyond them.  The painting conveys a post-Fall American, tinged with menace, in which sin and grace manage a dissonant coexistence.”  I was happy to learn from Cunningham’s essay that Tuliza Fleming (whom I had recruited to judge a Freedom Studies art contest for NKU students a decade ago) was a curator for the fine art gallery in the new African American Museum.  I contacted her in advance of my trip and we made an appointment to see The Garden of Eden together (along with a second Duncanson on display) on the afternoon of my visit.  When I got back from Winchester the day before, she called to say something had come up that would prevent her from meeting me the next day, so I hope to see these two paintings with her on a future visit.

Robert Duncanson, The Garden of Eden, 1852, National African American Museum

Robert Duncanson, The Garden of Eden, 1852, National Museum of African American History and Culture

Detail, Robbing the Eagle's Nest

Detail, Robbing the Eagle’s Nest

I did not myself find The Garden of Eden as “menacing” as Cunningham had, but I was deeply intrigued by what kind of latent symbolism Duncanson’s Cincinnati contemporaries might have seen in his second painting on display, Robbing the Eagle’s Nest.  This dramatic landscape is signed and dated 1856.  That is the year in which Margaret Garner had killed her infant daughter in Cincinnati in January to save her from being returned to slavery in northern Kentucky—from which the entire Garner family had escaped the night before as fugitives over the frozen Ohio River.  Garner had murdered her child after being hunted down by Archibald Gaines, the “master” from whom she had fled, Gaines accompanied by a federal marshal who had authority to return Garner and her family to Gaines under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.

Margaret Garner display at National African American Museum

Margaret Garner display at National African American Museum

Kentucky slaveholders like Gaines believed that Northern abolitionists who encouraged their slaves to escape were “robbing” their Southern “nests” of their rightful property.  Northern abolitionists–who defended Margaret Garner in a highly publicized court case disputing Gaines’s claims under the Fugitive Slave Law—argued that the Garners had had been legally free as soon as they crossed into the free state of Ohio, and that a slaveholder who claimed them under an unconstitutional law was “robbing” the fugitives of freedom they had won by escaping into a free state.  Whatever Duncanson may have consciously intended in creating and naming this painting, partisans on either side of the Garner case could have seen it as speaking the volatile issue of who was “robbing whom.”  I have yet to see any commentary on this particular painting, and am eager to see how others interpret it.  One thing is for sure: the man high up on the rock face robbing the eagle’s nest is in a very precarious position.  What is not so clear is whether the huge eagle hovering above and beyond him intends to protect or avenge him (by the 1850s the eagle was firmly established as the federal bird).

Robert Duncanson, Robbing the Eagle’s Nest, 1856, National African American Museum

Robert Duncanson, Robbing the Eagle’s Nest, 1856, National Museum of African American History and Culture

Female fates and whale hunting men on the Arena Stage

Female fates and whale hunting men on the Arena Stage

The Zaniellos and I had taken diverging paths through the Museum.  I had run out of steam (and memory on my iPhone camera) while exploring the exhilarating fourth and fifth floors in the afternoon.  We all rested up before arriving at the amazing Arena Stage complex after dinner, where the Lookingglass Moby Dick was performed in the lowermost of its three theaters (the title of the Lookingglass play, unlike that of Melville’s novel, has no hyphen).  As soon as we saw the set, we knew this would indeed be a physical, muscular, acrobatic production.  The first surprise was to hear the haunting, pitch-perfect, a capella singing of the three women who returned throughout the play in different guises as if to represent “those stage managers, the Fates.”  We all three enjoyed the energy and verve of this production, but Fran spoke for us all in saying she had been much more deeply moved by the crescendos of pity, fear, and empathy we had experienced, two years earlier in Washington, at the Kennedy Center production of Heggie and Scheer’s Moby-Dick opera.  That is not to say that you need to amass the forces of an entire opera company in order to bring the deeper meanings and feelings of Moby-Dick to the stage—as anyone who has experienced Rinde Eckert’s two-person chamber opera And God Created Great Whales can attest.

One moment of dramatic suspension in the Lookingglass Production on the Arena Stage

One moment of dramatic suspension in the Lookingglass Production on the Arena Stage

Handwritten title page of “Mailing Book” of Frederick Douglass’ Paper

Handwritten title page of “Mailing Book” of Frederick Douglass’ Paper (detail)

In my early planning for this trip to Washington DC, I had expected to make a return visit to Frederick Douglass’s magnificent Cedar Hill home overlooking the city from its hilltop perch in Anacostia.  The National Park Service in its stewardship of this home has preserved most of the artworks that graced its walls at the time of Douglass’s death in 1895, and there are several of those surviving artworks (some whose artists are currently unknown) about which I wish to learn much more.  My larger priority, however, on this visit was to learn more about the mailing book for Frederick Douglass’s Paper in the 1850s from which curator Kamal McClarin had sent me scans of the pages recording the names of persons to whom the paper had been sent in Ohio.  These scans were very helpful, but they continued numerical notations I had not been able to interpret.  I knew that I would need to examine the entire, actual book in order to interpret these correctly–and there were other states in which it would be help for me to know to whom the paper had been sent.  I had hoped Kamal would be able to bring the book to Cedar Hill for me to examine there, but its fragile condition required that it remain in an offsite storage facility several miles away in Hyattsville, Maryland.  That is where Tom dropped me off to begin my day at 10 am on Thursday.

Detail from one of the Cincinnati pages in the Mailing Book of Frederick Douglass’s Paper

Detail from one of the Cincinnati pages in the Mailing Book of Frederick Douglass’s Paper, courtesy National Park Service

Handwritten title page of “Mail Book” of The North Star

Handwritten title page of “Mail Book” of The North Star (detail)

I did not realize until I got to the storage facility in Maryland that Kamal and the Park Service had also preserved the “Mail Book,” equally fragile, for The North Star (which had become Frederick Douglass’s Paper when Douglass changed its name in 1851).  I was very excited to discover who in the Cincinnati area had subscribed The North Star between its first issue in December 1847 and its last in June 1851.  Examining the Cincinnati pages of The North Star allowed me to crack the code for Frederick Douglass’s Paper, for I soon realized that the number 52, for example, after Christian Donaldson, on page 147 for The North Star represented the 52 issues of the first volume of the paper, which was a weekly.  Donaldson received the first 52 issues of the paper because he was the first “agent” for the paper (see far right column, below).

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Martin Delany, co-editor of The North Star in 1848

Another Cincinnati “agent,” and a very busy one, was Martin R. Delany, Douglass’s co-editor for The North Star in 1848.  In May and June of that year, Delany published three consecutive “Letters from Cincinnati” in which he discussed the character, conditions, and institutions of African Americans in the city.  He was also very busy getting new subscribers for The North Star—as you see just by glancing at the left column in the partial view of one “Mail Book” page below).  Once I understood how the inclusive issues for each subscription were recorded for The North Star, I could see how all those numbers in the one-, two-, three-, four-, and five-hundreds in the “Mailing Book” for Frederick Douglass’s Paper represented the start and/or stop dates for each subscriber listed.  Since issue numbers ran consecutively from the one paper to the other, it was easy to figure out, for example, three-year period represented by the numbers 187 and 369 after the name of Sarah Otis Ernst on the page reproduced above (Mrs. Andrew Ernst).  The number 260 after the name of her friend W. H. Brisbane a few lines lower, his unpublished diary suggests, represents the issue with which he transferred his subscription to the Young Men’s Mercantile Library Association after he and his wife began running a boarding house, leaving him much less time to read at home.  Needless to say, I spent all of Thursday afternoon examining and photographing these two books at the Maryland repository.  My next trip to Cedar Hill itself will have to wait until a future visit.

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First thirteen entries on page 147 of the “Mail Book” of The North Star, courtesy National Park Service

The Zaniellos and I had a relaxed dinner on Thursday night at Anbar, a Balkan restaurant to which they had taken my wife Joan during a short visit earlier in the semester.  Like Joan, I flew home the next morning on an 8:30 flight to Raleigh with a connection to Cincinnati.  I expect this will be the last blog entry I post in 2016.  As I share this entry, I feel tremendous gratitude to Americans such as John Brown, Frederick Douglass, and Sarah Otis Ernst for creating our history and culture–and to Americans such Nancy Huth, Tuliza Fleming, and Kamal McClarin for preserving our common heritage in public spaces which enable us to discover ourselves in each other.

Approaching this museum for the first time

Approaching this museum for the first time

Stowing Down and Clearing Up

Entry begun Saturday, December 3, 8:40 pm

In chapter 98 of Moby-Dick, as soon as all the processed whale oil is in the casks, and the casks sealed and stowed into the hold, and after the deck itself is stripped and scoured of any trace of blubber and blood, so “immaculate” that the whalers themselves, “fresh and all aglow . . . pace the planks in two and threes, and humorously discourse of parlors, sofas, carpets, and fine cambrics”—at such a time, it so often happens, the cry of “There she blows” is “spouted up, and away we sail to fight some other world, and go through young life’s old routine again.”

One of the pleasures of curating an exhibition is getting everything back in place when it is over.  Off the walls, back to those who loaned, and off to new owners, plus the various gifts and gestures of comradeship on the open seas, some new works finding new homes where the process of stowing down and clearing up does indeed extend itself into that world of “parlors, sofas, and carpets” into which the sailors have projected themselves from far at sea.

Ione and Matt Kish with Piercefield whales in Columbua

Ione Damasco and Matt Kish with Piercefield whales in Columbus

Head of Ione's whale

Head of Ione’s whale

About a month ago I stowed under the double bed on the second floor of our house in Bellevue the two drawings by Kathleen Piercefield that Ione Damasco and Matt Kish are holding in the photo immediately above.  These are the two progeny from Kathleen Piercefield’s Affidavit print at the Marta Hewett gallery that I commissioned from Kathleen as presents for Matt and Ione after Matt had presented me with his original drawing of the Huzza Porpoise from the Cetology section of the exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center after that exhibition had closed.  When offered a choice of one of the four whales in the Affivadit print, Ione had preferred the one who has no individual name but who symbolizes “the eternal whale” who “will still survive” in spite of all that men have done to him and his species.  Matt had himself immediately chosen Don Miguel, indicating that he would love to have some of the text from that chapter included too.  In addition to phrase in which Don Miguel is named, Piercefield includes the passage in which Ishmael addresses him as “thou Chilean whale, marked like an old tortoise with mystic hieroglyphs upon the back!”—a texture her collagraphic mark-making technique renders splendidly.

Matt Kish's Don Miguel

Matt Kish’s Don Miguel

Kish’s Huzza Porpoise fresh from the frame shop

Kish’s Huzza Porpoise fresh from the frame shop

Two days after delivering the two variants of the Affidavit print to Ione and Matt (my wife Joan and I drove up to Columbus where we presenting them during a noonday gam), I received from the framer the drawing from Matt and the print from Kathleen that had inspired this cetacean exchange.  As soon as Matt had declared that he wanted me to choose one of his drawings from the CAC as a gift for my work in co-curating the show, I knew that I would want to frame whatever work I choose so it could hang with the other works of Moby-Dick art in the dining room of our house.  I had loved the departure that Matt’s serene, self-contained Huzza Porpoise had made from his characteristically angry and murderous whales, plus I thought this drawing might have a nice calming influence on any contentious discussions that might in the future break out over the dining room table.  The beautiful sperm whale that Kathleen had extracted from the Affidavit print as her present for my curatorial activity in the Marta Hewett show is similarly serene and self-contained, and as soon as she surprised me with this gift I knew that it, too, would have to be framed for a place on dining room walls.  Now that each has come back from ADC, a Cincinnati gallery and frame shop, I will have to again stow them temporarily away until I can decide exactly where to hang them—and then get technical help from a former student (and Moby artist) who knows how to hang artwork securely from one-hundred-year old-plaster walls.

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Piercefield gift ready to hang

Last week I received from the registrar at the Contemporary Arts Center a nice packet representing the final “stowing down and clearing up” from the exhibition there.  In addition to copies of the gallery brochure and various announcements for the show, it included a disk with photographs documenting each section of the exhibition itself.  Those photos are better than the ones I had taken, so I will use them here in giving a quick summary of where the works from each Moby-Dick section at the CAC can be found now that the show is over.

CAC photo of Kish’s original drawings for Moby-Dick in Pictures, April – August 2016

CAC photo of Kish’s original drawings for Moby-Dick in Pictures, April – August 2016

Of the twenty-five original drawings for Kish’s Moby-Dick in Pictures (above), those that we borrowed from the Steely Library Archives and the Honors House at NKU have now been returned (as have those we borrowed from two local private collections, including my own).  All of these will be available to students at NKU the next time I teach my course in Moby-Dick and the Arts.  The original drawings that we borrowed from the Melville Society Archive will be returned to our flat file at the New Bedford Whaling Museum when I return for the Moby-Dick Marathon in January.

CAC photo of Kish’s original drawings for The Crew of the Pequod, April – August 2016

CAC photo of Kish’s original drawings for The Crew of the Pequod, April – August 2016

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New Reading Room at Whaling Museum

All twelve of Kish’s original drawings of The Crew of the Pequod (above) will be returning to the flat file of the Melville Society Archive at the Whaling Museum, which had commissioned them as its art acquisition for 2014.  Viewers will now be able to consult those works in a new Reading Room which opened as part of the Wattles-Jacobs Educational and Research Center added to the Whaling Museum in January 2016.  These drawings, and those for Moby-Dick in Pictures, are currently in album books in my home that I will take to New Bedford for the Moby-Dick Marathon and our new art exhibition in January 2017.

CAC photo of Kish’s original Extracts drawings, April – August 2016 (partial view)

CAC photo of Kish’s original Extracts drawings, April – August 2016

Reading room, Newberry Library, Chicago

Reading room, Newberry Library, Chicago

All 81 brand-new Extracts drawings that Kish exhibited at the CAC in 2016 (above) went straight from Cincinnati to Chicago, where they have been acquired by the Newberry Library.  They will be available by request in the Reading Room of that library until 2019, when they will presumably all be exhibited as part of a major celebration the Newberry is planning for the 200th Anniversary of Herman Melville’s birth.

CAC photo of Kish’s Broadsides, April – August 2016

CAC photo of Kish’s Broadsides, April – August 2016

When representatives of the Newberry came to Cincinnati to confirm its plans to acquire Kish’s Extracts, they also declared strong interest in acquiring the ten Broadsides that Kish created just in time to include in the CAC show.  Those ten drawings are still together as a coherent group but the fourteen Cetology Whales created for the CAC have now become “loose fish,’ as they have begun to swim away to different owners.  Matt gave one of the folio whales to his wife Ione.  He has also given the Finback and the Razor-Back to the NKU Archive and the Huzza Porpoise to me.  As for the other ten, there is currently no telling where they will surface next.

CAC photo of Kish’s Cetology Whales, April – August 2016

CAC photo of Kish’s Cetology Whales, April – August 2016

CAC photo of Del Tredici’s six Moby-Dick silkscreens, April – August 2016

CAC photo of Del Tredici’s six Moby-Dick silkscreens, April – August 2016

The first two sequences of Moby-Dick prints by Robert Del Tedici were borrowed primarily from private collections.  The twenty-five Berkeley Prints from the 1960’s (below) came primarily from my private collection and that of the artist, augmented by a few from the Steely Archive at NKU.  The six gestural silkscreen prints from 1999-2001 were all borrowed from the artist himself and will be “stowed away” again in his studio in Montreal.

CAC’s photo of Del Tredici’s Berkeley prints, April – August 2016

CAC’s photo of Del Tredici’s Berkeley prints, April – August 2016

Del Tredici’s first set of “metallic” Moby-Dicks at Steely Library Archive, November 2013

Del Tredici’s first set of “metallic” Moby-Dicks at Steely Library Archive, November 2013

The largest group of Del Tredicis in the CAC show were the 45 “metallic” Moby-Dicks created between 2013 and 2016.  All 45 can now be seen as part of the permanent collection of the Steely Library Archive at NKU.  Half of the “metallics” in the CAC show had been loaned from the Steely Library, which had already acquired more than 40 of these brand new works since 2013.  The other twenty-plus “metallics” at the CAC had been loaned to the show from the artist in Montreal, but are now part of the Steely Library collection in a purchase and donation agreement.  The next time I teach my course in Moby-Dick and the Arts it will be wonderful to have all of these works available to my students in addition to the other Kishes and Del Tredici’s that have returned to the Archive from the CAC.

CAC photo of Del Tredici’s “metallic” prints, April 22 – August 14, 2016

CAC photo of Del Tredici’s “metallic” prints, April 22 – August 14, 2016

Getting works back to the various individual and institutional owners does not it itself complete the process of stowing down and clearing up.  I also ended up with two of Del Tredici’s metallic Moby-Dicks to frame for my own collection at home.  He offered one as a gift for curating the show, and I chose the Moby Ghraib print that he had completed just too late for inclusion in the CAC show (below, left).  Del Tredici had created this image by using his own hand as a printing element, the gap in the image left by his inner palm bearing an uncanny resemblance to shape of the Iraqi prisoner shrouded in black in the notorious photo from the Abu Gharib prison.  He augmented the anguish of the visual image by inscribing the passage from “The Chart” in which Ahab “sleeps with clenched hands; and wakes with his own bloody nails in his palms.”

Del Tredici’s Moby-Ghraib and Too Curing for my Malady framed and ready to hang.

Del Tredici’s Moby-Ghraib and Too Curing for Ahab Malady framed and ready to hang.

The second metallic Moby-Dick I had to have for my own home was Ahab Malady, one of several prints Del Tredici had reproduced for sale in the CAC museum shop toward the end of the run (above, right).  This print captures with exceptional pathos the moment in which Ahab recognizes that the affection for Pip, the crazed black cabin boy is “too curing for my malady”–for which reason Ahab banishes the boy his cabin so as not to deter his own mad quest.  Now that these two deeply unsettling prints are framed, I will have to find a place for them in my house, probably on the hall stairway going up to my study, between two of the Frank Stella Moby-Dick posters I brought back from my trips to Japan in the 1990s.

Piecefield's Women of New Bedford--Captain's Wives

Piecefield’s Women of New Bedford–Captain’s Wives

Now that the clearing up and stowing down from the two Cincinnati exhibitions in 2016 is essentially over, I have just finished the first draft of the wall labels for the Oceanic Harvest of Moby-Dick art that will accompany the Moby-Dick Marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum on the first weekend of January.  The artworks will be installed at the far end of the Harbor View Gallery in which most of the Marathon Reading takes place. Behind the readers as they read (see below) is a panoramic mural depicting port of New Bedford during the era in which Herman Melville embarked on the voyage that resulted in his writing Moby-Dick.  The city in the mural and the ships in its its harbor bear a strong resemblance to their counterparts in Kathleen Piercefield’s Women of New Bedford–Captain’s Wives, one of the new additions to the Schultz collection in the Ocean Harvest at the other end of the room.  Last year the readers who read the concluding chapters at the Marathon had Jerry Beck’s Queequeg’s Coffin from the Schultz Collection between them as they read.  This year, those who hear the concluding words of the novel from the far end of the Harbor View Gallery well be accompanied by Piercefield’s larger-than-life, mixed-media depiction of Queequeg in his own proper person, Monica Namyar’s sculpted bust of Queequeg, and Robert Del Tredici’s projection of Queequeg’s afterlife in Rings of Eternity. 

Queequeg’s Coffin between the speaker at the end of the 2016 Moby-Dick Marathon

Queequeg’s Coffin between readers at the end of the 2016 Moby-Dick Marathon

I am delighted that Robert Del Tredici and Kathleen Piercefield are planning to be with us for the exhibition opening and the Marathon weekend.  Duston Spear, a New York artist who has herself begun a very ambitious mixed-media Moby-Dick project, will also be with us.  I will conclude this entry with a photo she recently sent of work-in-progress in her studio.  In the artist studio, as on the whale ship, the “stowing down and clearing up” is but one pause in an endless cycle of completing one quest and moving on to another.  We in the 21st-century have found our own ways to be Adrift in the Wonder World while Chasing the Whale and other Endless Pursuits.

Work in progress in one corner of Duston Spears studio, late 2016

Work in progress in one corner of Duston Spears studio, late 2016

November Harvest 3 (Grand Contested)

Entry begun Saturday, November 26, 10:20 pm

Screenshot of Sami throwing sideline pass against West Virginia

Screenshot of Sami throwing sideline pass against West Virginia

It was only two weeks ago that Sami Rutowski and her NKU women’s soccer teammates played in the first round of the NCAA Division I National Tournament at Dick Dlest Stadium in Morgantown, West Virginia.  We had been third seed in the Horizon League Tournament and had beaten Wright State and upset both Detroit Mercy and host Milwaukee to qualify for the national tournament with season’s record of 13-6-1.  Our opponent and host, the West Virginia Mountaineers, entered the game with a record of 19-1-1.  In addition to being champions of the Big 12 Conference, they were ranked first in the nation.  I was unable to drive to West Virginia for the game so I watched most of the game on the video broadcast on the NKU website.  I saw most of the game because the video feed did not start when the game did.  The game was a minute and a half old when I first got to see it and we were already behind 1-0.  We played very well, showing a lot of poise, holding then scoreless for the rest of the first half.  But West Virginia scored two more goals in the second half and won 3-0.  My former student Sami Rutowski, as usual, played the whole game and very well.  To qualify for this national tournament in our first year of eligibility is something always to be proud of.  I hope West Virginia does well in the rest of the tournament, but I must admit I have not checked up on that since our loss. I will do that right now.  After beating us, they have beaten Ohio State and UCLA.  They are now in the semi-finals and will play Duke next Friday, December 2.  I expect our team will be cheering for them.

NKU Soccer on the way to the D-I national tournament first year we were eligible

NKU Soccer on the way to the D-I national tournament first year we were eligible

Taylor Snyder, final project in Honors Freshman Composition, December 2012

Taylor Snyder, final project in Honors Freshman Composition, December 2012

On the same day that our women’s soccer team ended its post-season with a loss at West Virginia, our women’s volleyball team completed its regular season with a win at University of Illinois—Chicago.  This victoryraised our season record to 17-10 and our league record to 11-5, giving us the third seed in the six-team conference tournament to be hosted by top-seed Cleveland State the next week.  Before the tournament started, my former Freshman Honors English student Taylor Snyder and three of her teammates were four of only eleven students named to the Horizon League All-Academic Team (Taylor has a career GPA of 3.918; two of her teammates have perfect 4.0s).  Taylor and two of her teammates (Haley Libs and Keely Creamer) were also named to the 2016 Volleyball All-Horizon League Team; Laura Crawford made the All-Freshman team.  We were hoping to make the NCAA tournament the way the soccer team did, and we beat Valparaiso in the first round of the conference tournament, but we lost to second-seeded Green Bay in the semi-final round.  Setter Taylor Snyder finished her NKU career with 4,535 assists and 1,118 digs, a combination achieved by only one other player in NKU history.  To see student athletes have a career like this on the court as well as the classroom is one of the great pleasures of being a college teacher.

From left: Haley Libs, Keely Creamer, Taylor Snyder, and Laura Crawford on All-Horizon Teams

From left: Haley Libs, Keely Creamer, Taylor Snyder, and Laura Crawford on All-Horizon Teams

Rachel Prokopius and Lauren Hensley holding Rachel’s sperm and right whales

Rachel Prokopius and Lauren Hensley holding Rachel’s sperm and right whales

When Rachel Prokopius left her three Cetology whales for me at the Honors House, I had not yet had a chance to pay her, so I invited her over to my house to see them in their new habitat.  It was great to hear her describe how she had made the rough edges on the back of the Razor-Back, fashioned the baleen of the Right Whale, and filled the spermaceti case in the head of the Sperm Whale with maple syrup.  I love the fanciful nature of the fabulous tails.  They were quite an engineering challenge working in clay without an armature for support, and I love that Rachel made all of her Cetology whales freely out of her own imagination, without consulting the specifics of Ishmael’s descriptions in chapter 32.  The complete group of Cetology whales she created at the end of my 2016 Spring Semester class will stay at the Honors House until the end of this semester.  These three new Folio ones that I commissioned will remain on my dining room mantel, underneath Mary Belperio’s Snuggles Beneath the Counterpane, for some time to come.   And Rachel’s namesake in the novel–“Procopius, a Christian magistrate of Constantinople, in the days of Justinian the Emperor”–will in the “Affidavit” chapter no matter what political and cultural changes are taking place along the shores of the “neighboring Propontis, or Sea of Marmora” in modern-day Turkey.

Left to right: Folio whales by Rachel Prokopius--Razor-Back, Sperm Whale, Right Whale

Left to right: Folio whales by Rachel Prokopius–Razor-Back, Sperm Whale, Right Whale

Nicci Mechler with Emily Dickinson portrait, 2011

Nicci Mechler with Emily Dickinson portrait, 2011

One of the highlights of my class in Emily Dickinson and Henry James in the Fall 2011 semester was the glorious portrait of Emily Dickinson that Nicci Mechler presented at the end of the semester.  Nicci is a poet and a publisher, too, and last week, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, she and two other poets gave a reading from two chapbooks recently published by the four poets who call themselves Wild Soft.  Both chapbooks derive from a residency that Nicci Mechler, Hilda Weaver, Kristin Koester, and Wendy Creekmore spent at a rural retreat in central Kentucky.  It was great to hear Nicci, Hilda, and Kristin read a few of their individual poems as well as several of the co-authored ones, and to speak of the experience of living and creating communally.  Hilda, like Nicci, is also gifted in visual art.  She had achieved an exceptionally sophisticated interplay among her own poems, Dickinson poems, and collaged visual imagery in Emily and I, the artist book she created in my course in Dickinson and the Arts in Spring 2014.  All four poets in the Wild Soft collaboration are graduates of our M. A. program in English at NKU, as is Stephanie Knipper who read from her brilliant book The Peculiar Miracles of Antionette Martin, based on her truly unique experiences as a mother.

Kristin Koester, Nicci Mechler, and Hilda Weaver, with Stephanie Knipper, after reading on November 20.

From Left: Nicci Mechler, Kristen Koster, Hilda Weaver, and Stephanie Knipper at NKU, November 20, 2016

Beth Schultz speaking in the Matt Kish Extracts corner on May 7, 2016

Beth Schultz speaking in the Matt Kish Extracts corner on May 7, 2016

One delightful artistic surprise over the Thanksgiving weekend was to receive a cluster of photos that John Campbell had taken at the two-man Moby-Dick show in Cincinnati in May and was harvesting from his camera now.  John had been a classmate of Hilda Weaver in the class in Dickinson and the Arts in 2014 and he is still creating new artwork of his own from that experience.  He was at the Contemporary Arts Center when Beth Schultz was giving her gallery talks on the Moby-Dick art by Matt Kish and Robert Del Tedici, and he got many fine shots of Beth in action, my favorite being the openhanded moment in which she is standing beneath the open-mouthed whale in one of Kish’s Extracts drawings, the gorgeous birds on her jacket flying with her words.  Equally transfixing in a contrasting way in John’s photo of Del Tedici’s print inspired by the passage in which Ishmael is “stabbed from behind by the thought of annihilation” in the chapter on “The Whiteness of Whale.”  The quicksilver layering that links the human foreground with the cosmic background in Del Tredici’s mixed-media print on metallic paper is artfully complicated by the reflection of other Del Tredici images from across the gallery running through the shadow of John’s own human form.   Compare the gesture of Ishmael’s open hands (seen from behind) in John’s photo of Del Tredici’s annihilation print with the gesture of Beth’s open hands (seen from in front) as she speaks of Kish’s Extracts prints, and you have the contrast between our primal fear of being alone in the universe and our only antidote to that fear, sharing our deepest and most expansive impressions with others.

John Campbell’s shadow-selfie photo of Del Tredici’s Stabbed in the Back at the CAC in

John Campbell’s shadow-selfie photo of Del Tredici’s Stabbed in the Back at the CAC in May 2016

Monica Namyar with her Queequeg fresh out of the kiln in July 2016

Monica Namyar with her Queequeg fresh out of the kiln in July 2016

Another delightful development over the Thanksgiving weekend was to learn that the New Bedford Whaling Museum has accepted Elizabeth Schultz’s donation of Monica Namyar’s sculpted bust of Queequeg as part of its permanent collection.  This will be the first 3-dimensional work among the wealth of Moby-Dick paintings, prints, and drawings that Schultz has given to the museum.  It will now join the seven metallic prints by Robert Del Tredici and the three multi-media prints by Kathleen Piercefield that will be exhibited as new acquisitions by the Whaling Museum during the Moby-Dick Marathon from January 6-8, 2017.  The seven Del Tredici prints are the 2016 art acquisition by the Melville Society Archive at the Whaling Museum; all were exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati last summer.  The three Piercefield prints are newly donated additions, like Namyar’s bust, to the Elizabeth Schultz Collection of Moby-Dick art at the Whaling Museum.  Two of them, The Affidavit and Women of New Bedford—Captain’s Wives are creations that Schultz saw for the first time at the Marta Hewett Gallery in Cincinnati in May 2016.  The other, a life size mixed-media print of Queequeg in his own proper person mounted on 8 canvas panels, is the 2004 creation that Schultz first saw at the Moby Comes to Covington exhibition in northern Kentucky in April 2015.  In New Bedford in January it will be wonderful to see Monica’s sculpted head of Queequeg next to Kathleen’s printed head of Queequeg.  The last time I saw the latter was in May 2015 which Kathleen was loading one of the eight canvas panels on which the print was mounted into the back of her car at the end of the Covington exhibition.

Kathleen Piercefield taking Queequeg back home

Kathleen Piercefield taking Queequeg back home May 2015

Selfie with Kevin Muente at Marta Hewett Gallery, Nov. 25, 2016

Double selfie with Kevin Muente at Marta Hewett Gallery, Nov. 25, 2016

Sometimes good things come in bunches.  On the day after Thanksgiving I went to the Marta Hewett Gallery in Cincinnati to meet David Smith, Marta’s new gallery director, and have one last look at the landscapes exhibition by Kevin Muente that had opened in October.  Geographically, these subjects range from Alaska across the continental expanse of the United States into Kevin’s own back yard.  Three of the paintings, including Barnes Creek, derive from the two-week trip around the Olympic Peninsula in my home state of Washington that I took with Kevin and his wife Tammy Muente in July 2008.  Seeing selected landscapes from Kevin’s last decade of work in such an intimate and well-lighted gallery was a pleasure made even deeper by the fact that Kevin has also been painting extraordinary figurative works since our trip to the Olympic Peninsula, some of them now on exhibition in Denmark.  For old time’s sake, Kevin and Tammy and I asked Marta to take a photo of us near Barnes Creek, which Kevin and I followed with a double selfie.  I never had an art course in high school, college, or graduate school, nor did I know a single painter, printmaker, or sculptor in those years, but in my years as a teacher I have, fortunately, had plenty of opportunity to make up for lost time.

With Tammy and Kevin Muente next to Kevin’s Barnes Creek at Marta Hewett Gallery

With Tammy and Kevin Muente next to Kevin’s Barnes Creek at Marta Hewett Gallery

November Harvest 2 (Grand Contested Election)

Entry begun Thursday, November 10, 10:05 pm

In “Loomings,” the opening chapter of Moby-Dick, the narrator famously situates his own “whaling voyage by one Ishmael” between a “Grand Contested Election for the Presidency of the United States” and “Bloody Battle in Affghanistan.”  In late April, when our 9-woman Moby-Dick exhibition opened at the Marta Hewett Gallery in Cincinnati one day after our 2-man Moby-Dick exhibition opened at the Contemporary Arts Center in the same city, Hillary Clinton was still battling Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Presidential nomination and Donald Trump was still fending off Ted Cruz and John Kasich among the multitude of Republicans who had challenged him for the nomination of that party.  On election day 2016, Tuesday, November 8, after casting my ballot for President in Bellevue, Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati, I drove over to pick up the last two Moby-Dick drawings by Matt Kish from the exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center that had closed in August.  His original drawings for pages 75 and 144 of Moby-Dick in Pictures, the book he had published in 2011, were being returned to us now because they each had been framed when I took them to Kristin Riepenhoff, the registrar, in early April.  Each drawing had to be taken out of its frame for the exhibition in the gallery, and now they were ready for me to retrieve in their original frames.  I was delighted to hear from Kristin that an estimated 26,623 persons had seen our exhibition of Moby-Dick works by Matt Kish and Robert Del Tredici between the opening day on April 22 and the closing day on August 14.  When I picked up the two Kishes from her on election day this Tuesday, they were wrapped, for protection, like mummies.

Matt Kish’s drawings for pages 75 and 144 of Moby-Dick in Pictures when I retrieved them from the CAC on Election Day

Matt Kish’s drawings for pages 75 and 144 of Moby-Dick in Pictures when I retrieved them from the CAC on Election Day

belle-opens-kish-1I was happy to get these works on Tuesday, Election Day, when no classes were scheduled at NKU, so I could bring one of them back to the Honors House today, Thursday, just before my English 151 class met at 12:15.  The Honors House has owned the drawing for page 75 since since 2013, when Matt Kish gave a lecture at NKU, visited my class in Moby-Dick and the Arts, and donated to our Archives many of the drawings recently exhibited at the CAC in 2016.  Belle Zembrodt, interim director of the Honors Program, was happy to unwrap this drawing as soon as I brought it in this morning and to reinstall it in the reception area of the Honors House just outside her office.  There it hangs to the immediate right of Robert Del Tredici’s Boggy, Soggy, a gestural screenprint inspired by Ishmael’s encounter with the painting in the Spouter-Inn in chapter 3.  Looming above both works is Shear, the painted metallic relief that Political Science major Danielle Kleymeyer created as her final project in my Spring 2013 class soon after Kish’s visit.

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Kish’s drawing for page 75 between Del Tredici’s Boggy, Soggy and Kleymeyer’s Shear in the NKU Honors House on November 10, 2016

new-yorker-note-malcolmI was particularly eager to meet with the Honors Freshmen in my ENG 151 class today because on Election Day each had posted a blog entry about the election that was inspired, in part, by a note we had received from the editorial staff of The New Yorker back in September.  For more than twenty years, my ENG 151class has taken a bulk subscription to The New Yorker as part of the required reading for the course (during the current Fall Semester the bulk rate for each student is $15 for a 15-week subscription).  Early in the semester I generally let each student post a blog entry on a feature of his or her choice within a week of receiving each new issue.  The September 5 issue, however, contained a fascinating profile by Janet Malcolm of the young pianist Yuja Wang.  Since our ENG 151 class was to be hearing Hilary Hahn play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with Louis Langrée and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra on the weekend of September 23 and 24, I required that each student’s blog entry for the September 5 issue respond to Malcolm’s profile of Wang.  These blog posts were so appreciative of what Malcolm had written about Wang that I printed them out and sent them to David Remnick and his New Yorker staff.  We were thrilled, as you can imagine, when we received from Becky Cooper, quite soon, the thank you note that begins this paragraph.

new-yorker-oct-31-2016Our Election Day project for the class was inspired by the October 31 issue of The New Yorker.  This issue included a Portfolio entitled “The Vote” in which fourteen voters from throughout the country “describe why they are voting in a presidential election for the first time and which candidate they will choose.”  Most of those first-time voters were students between the ages of 18 and 24.  Each voter’s statement was accompanied by a photo by Katy Grannan of that voter.  As soon as I saw this portfolio I thought it would be great for my students to create a voter portfolio of our own.  We did not have much time (especially since we had no class on Election Day itself), so we had to improvise our plan during our class meetings on Tuesday, November 1, and Thursday, November 3.  We agreed that each student would post a blog entry before the polls closed on Election Day indicating who they planned to vote for and why, with each student’s statement mirroring those in The New Yorker in approximate length and demographic information (name, age, status, geographic locations, and candidate of choice).  When a student who was not planning to vote asked what to indicate for “candidate of choice,” we decided that N/A for “not applicable” would be appropriate.  We agreed that each student, in addition to posting the blog entry on Election Day, would bring to class today a printout in which his or her blog entry is accompanied by a photograph of his or her self.  These I would then combine into a portfolio of our own that I could send to David Remnick and his editorial staff in New York.

We decided last week that it would be a good idea to send a photograph of the entire class to New York along with the individual photos and statements.  We agreed to take that photo after I collected the individual portfolio submissions at the beginning of the class period today.  We chose not to dress up in any way for this group photo but simply to dress the way we usually dress for class.  After I collected the individual submissions, we posed for our group photo in the reception area of the Honors House in which Belle Zembrodt had reinstalled Matt Kish’s Moby-Dick drawing while I was collecting the submissions.  Several students had brought copies of the October 31 issue to which our Portfolio was responding, as you can see in the accompanying photo here.

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ENG 151 Honors Freshmen on the day they submitted their Voter Portfolio to The New Yorker

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Headnote for the Portfolio we sent to The New Yorker on November 10, 2016

The New Yorker  Portfolio is quite balanced in its selection of first-time voters.  Its headnote indicates these “fourteen Americans” are “from red states, blue states, and battleground states.”  Geographically, the states range from California, Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado in the west to Florida, Georgia, and New Hampshire in the East, with Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, and Texas in between.  The candidate choices are well balanced too—with 7 of the first-time voters selecting Clinton, 5 selecting Trump, and one each for Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.  The Portfolio from my ENG 151 class includes twelve of our fourteen students (two students had missed class during the week in which we received the October 31 issue).  Whereas the students in The New Yorker sample range in age from 18 to 24, those in our group range from 18 to 20.  Whereas the fourteen voters in The New Yorker group are from thirteen widely distributed states, all twelve in our group live near the Ohio river, ten being from northern Kentucky, two from southern Ohio.  The most interesting distribution, of course, is in their choices among the Presidential candidates.  Whereas the fourteen New Yorker voters appear to have been pre-selected their voters to achieve a range of political preferences, our twelve ENG 151 voters were simply a group of random students who had happened to enroll in my Honors Freshman Composition class.

Instead of commenting on the statements, ages, status, demographics and choices of these twelve students, I have chosen to reproduce here the text and photo that each student sent to The New Yorker.  You will see that 4 chose Trump, 4 chose Clinton, 2 chose Johnson, and two chose not to vote:

Click Here.

 

I am grateful to The New Yorker for providing the inspiration for this stimulating, interesting in-class exercise.  I am grateful to these students for embracing this impromptu assignment with the talent, focus, and imagination they have brought to everything we have done throughout this semester.  Sorting through the submissions they brought this morning to send to The New Yorker this afternoon makes me even more eager to see the final projects they will be presenting during the last two weeks of the course.  Two things strike me about the Voter Portfolio these students have created during one of the most contentious election days I have seen since I cast my own first vote for a Presidential candidate in 1962.  The first is that this random group of first-semester Honors Freshmen at Northern Kentucky University split their votes almost exactly as did the nation.  The second is that these twelve students—in spite of the stark differences in the way many of them see the nation and imagine its future—have remained receptive, engaged, and collaborative while we have all grown individually and in concert ever since we first came together in mid-August.  I hope our political leaders and body politic can aspire to, and achieve, something of the same—not only throughout the freshmen year and colleges careers of these students, but throughout their adult lifetimes.

Daguerreotype of Frederick Douglass shortly before his first visit to Cincinnati in 1850

Daguerreotype of Frederick Douglass shortly before his first visit to Cincinnati in 1850

In the ebb and flow of American democracy, volatile, combustible energies are never far from the surface even in times that seem more serene than the raw rancor we see today.  One model for the strength and courage I hope each of these students will find in negotiating their adult lives is Frederick Douglass, whose 1845 Narrative, published when he was only twenty-seven, is a model of self-actualizing expression in the most trying of times.  We began discussing his Narrative today and we will finish discussing it next Tuesday.  This will allow time for a peer evaluation next Thursday of the paper on Douglass students will be submitting on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  One thing I have asked students to address in the essay is whether they see the Narrative of Frederick Douglass more as a historical document or as a book that speaks to our lives today.

Abby Schlachter with Queequeg in her Coffin II in 2001

Abby Schlachter with Queequeg in her Coffin II in 2001

During the Fall 1995 Semester, Abby Schlachter was a freshman in the same ENG 151 Honors Class I am teaching today.  That was three years before most of my current freshmen were born.  During the Spring 1996 semester, when Bill Clinton was running for his second term as president, Abby took my course in Moby-Dick and the Arts in which her final project was an inscribed cast of her own body she called Queequeg in her Coffin.  During the Spring 1997 semester, she and her classmates returned for Further Studies in Melville and the Arts during which she created Queequeg in her Coffin II for our exhibition at the Rockford College Art Gallery in Illinois at the end of the semester.  Here you see her standing alongside that body cast at the International Melville Conference at Hofstra University in New York in October 2001, one month after the event that soon became known as 9/11.  That attack was early in the presidency of George W. Bush, whose response to it led to the new battles Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Middle East that have continued to present new challenges throughout the presidency of Barack Obama as my current freshmen have come of age as citizens and voters.

Abby Schlachter Langdon as The Warrior in 2016

Abby Schlachter Langdon as The Warrior in 2016

This April, as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were each battling their competitors in their respective Presidential primaries, Abby Schlachter Langdon, now the mother of two, exhibited her newest artistic response to Queequeg, the stitched photographic self-portrait on fabric she calls The Warrior.  Exhibited as part of the 9-woman Moby-Dick show at the Marta Hewett Gallery we called Adrift in the Wonder World, this work shows Abby addressing the world with the same personal courage and grasping imagination she showed in inscribing that first body cast exactly twenty years ago.  I wish a similarly rich path of self-actualization for my current freshmen as each steers her or his course through four years of college—years in which our nation will be preparing for yet another “Grand Contested Election for the Presidency of the United States.