WPKN Archives: Live Culture with Martha Willette Lewis Episode 42:Powerful Women

Episode Info

Original Aired:
Saturday, August 25th, 2018
11:00AM to 12:00PM

1 hour

Saturday, August 25th, 2018 11:00AM

the liveculture marthawillettelewis yuag fairfeildmuseum theyaleuniversityart stephaniewiles flappers laurielamarre


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Episode: Live Culture with Martha Willette Lewis Episode 42:Powerful Women

This month's show starts with a conversation with Stephanie Wiles the new Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, a post she began this summer, on July 1st!

We talk about the future she envisages for the art gallery, and find out what might be in store for us under her tenure, as well as the challenges that lie ahead for museums and arts venues in this current social and economic climate. YUAG has a rich and encyclopedic collection that offers a myriad of possibilities, and Stephanie's record is one of innovative partnerships and initiatives.

Stephanie Wiles comes to Yale with over 20 years of experience leading college and university art museums. In her prior roles, Wiles has led efforts to connect the visual arts to other areas of university life by developing interdisciplinary courses, reimagining gallery spaces to be more inviting to visitors from campus and beyond, and spearheading exhibitions and publications to showcase research.

She has served on several committees at Cornell Tech, a science and technology graduate school in New York City, tasked with bringing art to the campus and into the curriculum. Wiles has successfully created educational and research opportunities across disciplines that take advantage of museum collections. She secured funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop eight semester-long courses that bridged the arts, humanities, science, and engineering.

Wiles began her career in the department of drawings and prints at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City; she later assumed leadership positions at Wesleyan University, Oberlin College, and, most recently, Cornell University.

One of the most visible of her projects at Cornell was the negotiation and completion of Cosmos, a site-specific light sculpture by Leo Villareal, made up of 12,000 LED lights. The work, named in honor of scientist Carl Sagan and visible across campus and from many parts of Ithaca, is a beacon attracting visitors to the museum.

For more information about YUAG please visit here

During the second half  I speak with The Fairfield Museum’s Exhibitions Curator Laurie Lamarre, about the new exhibit: Flappers: Fashion and Freedom which opened August 16 and runs through February 2019.

This exhibition showcases women’s fashion of the 1920s and explores how “flappers” – locally and beyond – embraced a glamorous and rebellious identity. The New Woman of the 1920s represented a daring freedom of movement, behavior, and athleticism, and championed a new fashion aesthetic and attitude. The new styles included shorter skirts, freedom from corsets and bobbed hair. Flappers had social lives independent of the domestic landscape, that included frequenting dance halls, speakeasies and sporting events.

The year 1920 marked a watershed in the ongoing struggle for American women’s equality, as women secured the right to vote and claimed full citizenship alongside men. As they moved increasingly into colleges, workplaces, and public life, a new generation sought further social freedoms to move, dress, and behave as they pleased, flouting earlier standards of social behaviors for "respectable" women. Driving cars, smoking, and dancing, the flapper represented a youth-oriented search for freedom and parity. The flapper was as much cultural style as a reality, and women across social lines embraced the fashions of flappers and in doing so, embodied "modernity".

Despite this, nearly a hundred years later, we still inherit the internal contradictions that she faced as we continue to seek and advance American women's equality economically, in the workplace, at home and in self-determining our bodies. This exhibit examines that parallel and focuses on the intricate and exquisite fashions of the day and the lives of such women locally in Fairfield County, making for an innovative look at feminist history in visual format.

For more information about The Fairfield Museum please visit here

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