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Archive for February, 2011

Bread and Puppet Theater

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Masks from Vermont’s Bread and Puppet Theater are featured in the exhibit “Masked Spectacle” at UVM’s Fleming Museum this spring. Bailey/Howe Library contains a significant collection of books, films and organizational records that document the work of this celebrated political theater troupe.

Rehearsing with Gods

Rehearsing with Gods: Photographs and Essays on the Bread & Puppet Theater, by Ronald T. Simon & Marc Estrin.

The Bread and Puppet Theater, which started in the early ’60s on New York’s Lower East Side, migrated some years later to its present location in Vermont, and the wide open spaces obviously serve its expansive, anarchic being well. Photographer Simon has conducted a 20-year study of Theater founder Peter Schumann, and Simon’s 145 duotone photos show the influences of ancient theater and religions, particularly in the gravity of the massive faces of the puppets, made initially from straw, clay and, “according to some alleged medieval German formula,” beer. The book is organized around the eight “archetypical” themes of Death, Fiend, Beast, Human, World, Gift, Bread and Hope; however, like Bread and Puppet itself, which combines the creative with the mysterious, themes eddy into other themes. Estrin (Insect Dreams: The Half Life of Gregor Samsa) makes the strong social activist component of the theater clear, in tones that are by turns humorous and revealing, informational and awestruck (especially when it comes to Schumann). But the stars here are the enormous, fantastical creatures that enact possible freedoms each season. – Publishers Weekly

Bread and Puppet Stories

Bread & Puppet: Stories of Struggle & Faith from Central America, foreword by Grace Paley; introduction by Peter Schumann; compiled and written by Susan Green; photographs by Ron Levine and George Lange; edited by Greg Guma.

Brother Bread

Brother Bread, Sister Puppet (videorecording). Written, produced and directed by Jeff Farber.

This film documents the Bread & Puppet Theater Company’s 1988 Our Domestic Resurrection Circus, an annual event held at the company’s home in northern Vermont. Members of the company discuss the political and personal reasons for their involvement in it and how they create the puppets, posters, music, etc. which are used in its performances.


Bread and Puppet Theater Collection

The Bread and Puppet Theater Collection covers the period from 1962 to 1985 and contains flyers and advertisements, financial papers, correspondence, schedules of performance, news clippings and reviews, exchanges with other theater groups, scripts and publications,  and photographs.

McAllister Photographs Featured in “Under the Big Top” at the Fleming Museum

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Circus People

At UVM’s Fleming Museum until May 22, the exhibit “Under the Big Top: The Fine Art of the Circus in America” examines the iconography of circus imagery in American 20th and 21st-century art. The exhibit includes eleven photographs of traveling circus performers taken in the 1940s and 1950s by local photographer Louis L. McAllister. UVM Special Collections holds thousands of McAllister prints.

The performers in McAllister’s photos include the Viking Giant, dancer Baby Thelma Williams,  and Stanley Berent, aka Sealo the Seal Boy, promoted as “strange people” and “freaks.”  Like other 20th-century American artists represented in “Under the Big Top”, McAllister may have empathized with the outside status of these sideshow performers.

McAllister’s circus photos can also be seen in the L.L. McAllister Photographs collection in The UVM Libraries’ Center for Digital Initiatives.

Fleming + CDI Digitize Images of Japan

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

A Tourist’s Album of Japan

Katherine Wolcott and her uncle, Robert Hull Fleming, compiled this photo album on their visit to Japan in 1909. It contains nearly 40 leaves of collected photographs and postcards, numbering two to three per album page. The pictures range in content, some depicting staged photos of daily life while others portray landscapes and countryside. The album itself measures approximately 11 x 14 x 4 inches. Users can view the entire album, or individual images.

A Collaboration

This collection represents a collaboration between the university’s Robert Hull Fleming Museum, where the album is housed, and the UVM Libraries’ Center for Digital Initiatives. Conceived of as part of the Museum’s Shadows of the Samurai: Japanese Warrior Traditions exhibit, this new online resource invites many perspectives on early twentieth century Japan.

Japan in Context

Wolcott’s album captures a unique view of Japan at the brink of burgeoning Western influence. After defeating the Russians in the Russo Japanese War (1904-05), Japan began to cement itself as a global power, and its efforts to modernize began to attract Westerners. The images in this album depict a Japan with a strong national heritage and cultural appreciation as well as a newfound embrace of modernization and technology.Most of the pictures in the album sold commercially as a form of postcard. In the early 1900s, the Japanese populace began consuming millions of these types of commercially produced picture postcards. Eventually, the medium became so popular that it started to replace the more traditional wood block print. The citizenry sought pictures of their budding nation, wanting to hold a still image of the rapidly modernizing and changing countryside.

Beyond the Text: Artists’ Books from the Collection of Robert J. Ruben

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Counting on the Marsh

Shawn Sheehy’s Counting on the Marsh: A Nighttime of Numbers

The Spring 2011 exhibit in the Bailey/Howe Library lobby features artists’ books collected by Robert J. Ruben over the last several decades.  The books were selected to provide examples of different forms and media, with an eye to high quality. There are accordion books, scrolls, box books, pop-ups, and tunnel books that have known texts, new texts, or no text at all. They are made of paper, wood, plastic, and even lead and glass. The subject matter is serious, political, argumentative, and sometimes humorous.

For example, the giant pop-up Back to a Remembered Time by Paul Johnson shows a complex house-like form made up of many windows, entrances, and restive spaces, all with a dazzling range of colors.  Opening its kaleidoscopic wings, the viewer opens to a sense of joy.

Incantations is the first book created completely by Mayan people in nearly five hundred years.  Over 150 Mayans from all walks of life collaborated as writers, illustrators and paper makers working with the Taller Lenateros –Woodland Workshop.  The illustrations are accompanied by poetry written in the Mayan languageTzotzil, with English translations.  The Mayan women who produced the poems say they were written by the Earth, the Moon or the Sun, and come to them from books of their ancestors shown to them in dreams.

The exhibition and the opening reception on March 3 from 3-4:30 pm are free and open to the public.  For more information, call 802-656-1493 or email uvmsc@uvm.edu

Children’s Art & Writing Collection

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Prospect Archive of Children’s Work

The Prospect Archive of Children’s Work collection  offers a longitudinal look at the art and writing of nine children, as well as teacher records and information on the unique Prospect School and Center.

About Prospect

The Prospect School (1965-1991), deeply influenced by the philosophy of John Dewey, and in particular his commitment to the agency for the learner and his conviction that the desire for learning is inherent in every person, enrolled children from all walks of life, from age 4 through 14, with tuition waived or adjusted according to need.

The Prospect Center (1979-2010), under the leadership of co-founder Patricia Carini, developed a disciplined, collaborative method for understanding children as thinkers and learners called the descriptive review of the child. The descriptive review is a mode of inquiry that draws on the rich, detailed knowledge teachers and parents have of children and on their ability to describe those children in full and balanced ways, so that they become visible as complex persons with particular strengths, interests, and capacities.