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Beyond the Book: Fresh Perspectives on the Print Collection

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

“Beyond the Book: Fresh Perspectives on the Print Collection” is a bold experiment in curatorial participation. University of San Diego art history student Katherine Ayd ’13 curated the exhibition featuring works from USD’s Print Collection that have been selected and re-interpreted by current undergraduates from a wide variety of majors. The following essay is taken from the exhibition’s brochure.

Beyond the Book features the work of fourteen students representing more than a dozen academic disciplines, hung alongside the work of fourteen artists from the 16th through the 21st centuries. Half of the works are from the Print Collection at USD and half were created by students specifically for this exhibition.

Except for one drawing (Roman de Salvo’s Proposed Cactus Arcade for USD), all of the images are prints, meaning that they are original works, created using various techniques. Among the printmaking techniques on view are woodcuts, etchings, silkscreens, lithographs, and digital inkjet/pigment prints.

Some of these works  are highly abstract, such as Joseph Alber’s White Line Square LXXla, while others, such as Cornelis Cort’s (after Frans Floris) The Sale of Esau’s Birthright, demonstrate a representational style that owes much to the Renaissance studies of the human form. Works like these two, made nearly four centuries apart, represent the breadth of choices open to students’ interpretation.

In the same way that the work on display varies, the undergraduate responses featured in this exhibition represent disciplines ranging from mechanical engineering to English, as well as multiple nationalities, unique personal interests and diverse backgrounds.

Working in a variety of media ranging from sculptural installation to poetry, these undergraduates have employed tools from their own fields of study as well as their own personal perspectives in responding to these images. This can be seen most clearly, perhaps in the contrast between the original work and the individual student’s response.

Olivia Igoe’s (visual arts major, chemistry minor) photographic critique of William Hogarth’s Simon Lord Lovat (pictured, above left), provides just one example. Hogarth’s 18th-century etching depicts Lovat just before his trial and execution for crimes that ranged from espionage to abduction, highlighting and exaggerating many of his physical features. At the same time, physiognomic information was viewed as a reliable index of criminality, and Hogarth made sure to call attention to the most self-damning features of Lovat’s portrait.

Responding with a photographic portrait of another subject whose appearance might be judged negatively by society such as Eyes of Discernment (pictured, right), Igoe interrogates Hogarth’s depiction of the archetypal criminal-psychopath by capitalizing upon the photographic medium’s imagined capacity to “truthfully” represent its subject.

The interpretations won’t likely appear in any textbook or academic journal. Indeed, they might collide with that knowledge. Just the same, they may encourage us to consider the value of unique perspectives and interdisciplinary dialogue. Beyond the Book aims to make viewers think creatively, while showcasing the varied interests, talents and points of view of USD students who are immersed in a diverse set of academic disciplines.

– Katherine Ayd ‘13

Beyond the Book: Fresh Perspectives on the Print Collection
Through May 26
Robert and Karen Hoehn Family Galleries in Founders Hall

Tuesday — Sunday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Free

For more information, go to

Emilio Sanchez, The Shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, Color lithograph, 54.62 x 77.47 cm. Courtesy of the Emilio Sanchez Foundation.

William Hogarth, Simon Lord Lovat, 1746, Etching, 38.6 x 24.5 cm.

Olivia Igoe ‘13, Eyes of Discernment, 2012, Digital ink jet print, 37 x 54.8 cm.

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