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Donlyn Lyndon and Jim Alinder, The Sea Ranch (NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003), repr.

Campus engagement at the Cantor Arts Center

There’s a lot going on at the Cantor Arts Center this spring, and through it all runs a unifying thread: a profound engagement with the campus community.

Two large exhibitions engage faculty, students and campus partners from multiple disciplines.

She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World (closing May 4)

This exhibition features the pioneering work of 12 leading women photographers from Iran and the Arab world. Through partnerships with the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies and the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, the Cantor has generated dynamic public programs, gallery talks and tours in connection with this show. Up next is theShe Who Tells a Story faculty panel(April 9, 4:30 p.m.), featuringthree leading scholars discussing the intersection of poetry and photography as they relate to the exhibition.

Promised Land: Jacob Lawrence at the Cantor, A Gift from the Kayden Family (opening April 1)

Thanks to the generosity of the late Dr. Herbert J. Kayden of New York City and his daughter Joelle Kayden, Stanford MBA ’81, of Washington, D.C., the Cantor now holds one of the largest collections in any museum of the work of Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000). Lawrence is among the most important artists of the 20th century and is a leading voice in the artistic portrayal of the African American experience. As described in this week’s Stanford Report article, 12 undergraduate students who participated in a course offered during winter quarter designed the installation and wrote the texts. In addition, the museum is publishing a fully illustrated catalogue that features essays by seven distinguished faculty members – from multiple disciplines, including history, art history, theater and performance studies, and English.

In addition to the faculty and student engagement for these large exhibitions, the spring also sees two new curricular exhibitions at the Cantor. Margaret Cohen, who teaches in the departments of French, English and Comparative Literature, has helped create a new exhibition to complement her spring quarter courses. Titled Imagining the Oceans, the exhibition features historical and contemporary work spanning the collection holdings from American, European, Native American and Asian collections. The show, which was called out in the San Francisco Chronicle, is one element of a large-scale research project Cohen has undertaken that also includes film, scholarly symposia and interdisciplinary interactions. And art history Professor Richard Meyer has curated an exhibition, Plus One: Pop Duplications, featuring pop art from the Cantor’s collection, which will be the centerpiece of his exhibition. Throughout the spring quarter, Meyer’s students will conduct research on the objects on view and will then add their written text to the exhibition.

And students are originating projects too! As part of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded partnership with the Department of Art & Art History, Stanford graduate students are selected to curate an exhibition relating to their own research. George Philip LeBourdais is preparing to open his new exhibition Arboreal Architecture: A Visual History of Trees,which will be on viewApril 15-July 20, 2015. The exhibition comprises representations of trees in the Cantor’s collection, ranging from a sixth-century Egyptian medallion to 21st-century photographs of industrial smokestacks and spiky date palms.

The museum has also launched a new multiyear initiative to support research activities of undergraduate students. Through this unique program, titled Cantor Scholars, undergraduates from a variety of disciplines work with museum curators on independent projects resulting in small exhibitions, installations and presentations. For example, one final project is resulting in the special exhibition Modern Times: The Circle of O’Keeffe, Stieglitz, Toomer,on viewMay 6-Sept. 21, 2015. Each Cantor Scholar receives a stipend for his or her work and also a travel budget to support additional research connected to the project. For the winter/spring quarters, four students have been awarded this grant.

All of which is to say that it’s an exciting time at the museum – with great works of art, great student and faculty engagement and great programs. I urge you to come see for yourself!

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