Contested Image by Laura Holzman

Join us May 22nd from 5:30-6:30 at Indy Reads Books to hear Laura M. Holzman discuss her new book, Contested Image!

About Contested Image
Thomas Eakins’s 1875 painting The Gross Clinic, the Rocky statue, and the art collection under the stewardship of the Barnes Foundation are all iconic in Philadelphia for different reasons. But around the year 2000, they emerged as subjects of extended – and heated – controversies about their “appropriate” location. By revisiting these debates, Contested Image demonstrates how public reception transformed prominent elements of Philadelphia’s visual culture. The book’s insights into the public envisioning of place will resonate with readers regardless of where they call home.

About Laura Holzman
Laura M. Holzman is an associate professor of art history and museum studies at Indiana University, IUPUI, where she is also appointed Public Scholar of Curatorial Practices and Visual Art. She holds a PhD and MA in visual studies from the University of California, Irvine, and a BA with highest honors from Swarthmore College. Her work is dedicated to activating art history, its methods, and its related institutions as tools for strengthening communities, expanding democratic discourse, and creating a more reflective society.

May 22 | 5:30-6:30 PM
Indy Reads Books
911 Massachusetts Ave.; Indianapolis, IN

We’ll see you there!

Associate Professor Laura Holzman On How Public Art Can Redefine The Urban Identities Of Our Cities


Laura Holzman in her office at Herron School of Art and Design. Herron School of Art and Design

Laura Holzman, associate professor of art history and museum studies and public scholar of curatorial practices and visual art, has just authored her first book, which was eleven years in the making.

Published in April by Temple University Press, “Contested Image: Defining Philadelphia for the Twenty-First Century” investigates how Thomas Eakin’s 1875 painting “The Gross Clinic,” the Rocky statue, and the Barnes Foundation each helped create a new identity for the city of Philadelphia.

We sat down with Holzman to discuss her book, the origins of her research, and what it feels like to finally see it in print. The interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

HERRON: Tell us about your art historical approach for writing the book.

LAURA HOLZMAN: “Contested Image” is about contemporary visual culture, but it’s also about how historical objects from different points in time are contemporary to one another when we look at the roles that they’ve played more recently in regard to Philadelphia’s changing identity. I focus on big debates about where art belongs in the city from approximately 1990 to 2010. But some of the episodes start brewing in the 1980s and others trail into 2012.

I couldn’t have articulated this when I started working on the project, but the mode of art history scholarship that I am really interested in is public scholarship. What that means is doing scholarship that’s meaningful and shareable outside of academia and written in a way that is accessible. It can also mean scholarship that’s generated in collaboration with people outside of a university – that’s the work I do now.

My book looks like very traditional scholarship because it’s a book published by a university press and written by only one person. But my research questions didn’t come from conversations that were happening inside academia; they came directly from conversations that were happening outside in the world. I’d first heard about these issues on the radio and while sitting on the train in Philadelphia, listening to the people around me. People were having really passionate conversations about where art belongs.

Some of these conversations were divisive. They made me wonder, what’s really going on? How can I use my resources as a scholar to interpret this discourse constructively? My professional experience in Philadelphia’s arts and culture sector allowed me to develop a sensitivity to the issues at stake as well as understanding of who the major players are and how these stories unfolded. As I offer my own interpretation of each episode, I also try to honor the voices of the people who participated in these public exchanges about issues they cared very deeply about. I see this book as my way of contributing to those conversations.

HERRON: What’s your connection to Philadelphia?

HOLZMAN: I’ve spent a lot of my life in and around Philadelphia – visiting family, going to college, working with arts and culture organizations. My experiences there shaped how I approached the material in the book.

When I worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and so I walked up the Rocky steps almost every day on my way to work. It was hard not to think about the relationship between the Rocky statue and the site of the museum.

I was also working at the museum when Thomas Jefferson University sold “The Gross Clinic.” The university had made a deal with philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton, who was collecting art for the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The university said, ‘Ok, you guys can buy the painting for $68 million, unless a local institution can match the price.’ Oh, and they told local institutions, ‘You have 45 days to match that enormous price.’ There was a massive fundraising effort and a huge public relations campaign to generate the interest and the dollars to purchase the painting. With support from that campaign, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts jointly purchased the artwork.

I wasn’t thinking about it in an academic way at the time, but I was steeped in the environment of what was going on because of my job as a press relations coordinator. One of my responsibilities was to keep track of all the press clips that were generated about the institution. I’m a curious person, so I read them all. And then I didn’t really think much of it. When I went to graduate school, I revisited the newspaper articles and blogs about the painting. I thought, ‘There’s something going on here that people aren’t talking about’ and that was the hook for me and this research project.

HERRON: Is that what you went to graduate school to study?

HOLZMAN: Not at all. There’s a good story about that, actually. During my first quarter in the interdisciplinary PhD program in visual studies at UC Irvine [University of California, Irvine], I was waiting in the department office and one of the professors walked into the room. I casually mentioned that I’d noticed she would be teaching a seminar on museums, cultural memory, and history. She responded by saying, ‘I’m so glad you’ll be taking it!’ So, I enrolled in the class because I felt I’d made some kind of unintentional verbal commitment to take the course.

For the research project, we could write about anything we wanted that related to the subject of the seminar. I just kept thinking about “The Gross Clinic” and I had to get it out of my system. I wrote the paper and, I’m not kidding, it was the easiest first draft I’ve ever written. It was like the story was writing itself.

HERRON: What kinds of memories did you study during your research?

HOLZMAN: One of the things I noticed from reading all of those press clips and blog posts was that people were making it really personal when they were talking about “The Gross Clinic” and how it belongs in Philadelphia. For example, somebody said that it would be almost like losing a friend if the painting were to leave Philadelphia. There was this very personal language of memory and trauma that resonated with themes we’d examined in the class, so it came together as a really interesting example of memory practices related to museum collection practices.

HERRON: So, how did your short seminar paper turn into a 200-page book?

HOLZMAN: I ended up revising and expanding it fairly substantially for my master’s thesis. I revised and expanded it again for a chapter in my dissertation. Then, I revised and expanded it again for the book. Along the way, I added chapters about other prominent public conversations about where art belongs in Philadelphia, and I learned that the stories of “The Gross Clinic,” the Barnes Collection, and the Rocky statue are deeply intertwined with one another and with Philadelphia’s identity.

When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to write about, my dissertation advisor said, ‘Make sure it’s something you’re really okay with thinking about for ten years.’ I thought, ‘Pshh, ten years.’ The first words that I typed for this research were in 2008. It’s really been eleven years!

HERRON: How does it feel to finally see the book in front of you?

HOLZMAN: When I first held it in my hands I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is really a thing.’ There were definitely times when I thought this was not going to be a thing. Writing is really hard and the process of writing a book is very complicated. Enough of the steps are beyond the author’s control that it can feel like it might never manifest into anything. It is really cool to have this physical evidence that I completed the project.

I’m excited to have the book out in the world. I’ve published segments of the book previously, but now people can know the other parts of the story. It’s also a little bit scary, in part because of the way I’ve been doing scholarship for the past few years, which involves a lot of collaboration with stakeholders along the way. But with this, I’ve put it out in the world and, sure, it’s gone through academic peer review, but somebody might read this book and see their name in it because they gave a quote to a journalist and now it’s in the book. I wonder, is that person going to appreciate the way that I used their language? I hope that they will. I feel the weight of the responsibility of writing about people’s lives.

HERRON: What impact do you hope to make with “Contested Image?” What do you hope readers will take away from the book?

HOLZMAN: I think that people across the country and internationally can learn a lot from looking at my research in the book. We can learn about how people are using visual culture to define the places where they spend time. I also want to contribute to a shift in ways of thinking about which places are valuable for people to study from a distance. For example, you asked me earlier about my connection to Philadelphia. Would you have asked a similar question if this book were about New York?

Since I moved to Indianapolis, I’ve seen a lot of things that remind me of what I know about Philadelphia from the 1990s and the 2000s as the city started to change the way it was talking about itself and as the city started to invest in different areas. Philadelphia has major issues that it’s still working out, so I don’t want to imply that Philadelphia is perfect. But I think there’s a valuable lesson in the ways Philadelphia embraced the arts and culture sector as a major element of its new identity.

Indianapolis would really benefit from following a similar lead and recognizing that the arts and culture are central to making a place a vibrant and rewarding place to live, work, and visit. Arts and culture can look like different things for different people. We benefit from having a variety of those things, but we also benefit from truly embracing the possibilities that they offer.

Read the original story from Herron School of Art + Design

Herron Professor’s New Book Explores Public Art’s Impact

Laura Holzman stands in the 2017 House Life Project on Sept. 20, 2017. Photo by Tim Brouk, Indiana University
Laura Holzman stands in the 2017 House Life Project on Sept. 20, 2017. Photo by Tim Brouk, Indiana University

You’ve seen the “Rocky” movies. You hum the theme song every time you run up a flight of stairs. You might even have posed in front of the statue when visiting Philadelphia. But have you thought about the impact the statue has made on the city and public art in general?

A new book by Laura Holzman, IUPUI associate professor of art history and museum studies, explores the history and public discourse concerning public art in early-21st-century Philadelphia. “Contested Image: Defining Philadelphia for the Twenty-First Century” focuses on the “Rocky” statue as well as “The Gross Clinic” by Thomas Eakins and the Barnes Foundation art collection.

The book is available through Temple University Press and many other online outlets.

Negotiating the Diaspora: African Immigrant Women’s Memoirs Dialogue with Human Rights

Dr. Tobe Levin von Gleichen, a multi-lingual scholar, translator, editor and activist, is an Associate of the HutchinsCenter for African and African American Research at Harvard University; a Visiting Research Fellow at the International Gender Studies Centre, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford; an activist against female genital mutilation (FGM) and professor of English Emerita at the University of Maryland, University College. Her most notable works to date are Empathy and Rage, Female Genital Mutilation in African Literature, and Waging Empathy.

Please join IUPUI Committee on African Studies, CAS, as Dr. Levin von Gleichen lectures on the topic of human rights for immigrant women in the African diaspora. Come with questions and leave with knowledge.

Wednesday April 17th 12-1pm
Business Building BS 3018

We’ll see you there!

Reading at the Table with Dr. Wendy Vogt

Dr. Wendy Vogt

Reading at the table will be presented by Wendy Vogt. Wendy Vogt, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of anthropology at IUPUI. In 2012, she received her doctorate from the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Her research interests include politically engaged anthropology., migration, transit journeys, violence, political economy, human rights and transnational feminism. She teaches courses on Cultural Anthropology, Race & Ethnicity, Gender & Sexuality, Migration, Ethnographic Methods, Anthropological Theory, Applied Anthropology and International Studies.

Lives in Transit chronicles the dangerous journeys of Central American migrants in transit through Mexico. Drawing on fieldwork in humanitarian aid shelters and other key sites, the book examines the multiple forms of violence that migrants experience as their bodies, labor, and lives become implicated in global and local economies that profit from their mobility as racialized and gendered others. At the same time, it reveals new forms of intimacy, solidarity and activism that have emerged along transit routes over the past decade. Through the stories of migrants, shelter workers and local residents, Vogt encourages us to reimagine transit as both a site of violence and precarity as well as social struggle and resistance.

Please register in advance

Call in reservations are welcome at 317-274-7014

Buffet Lunch: $13
(Desert and soft drinks not included)

Tuesday April 9th, 2019
UniversityClub Rm200
Indianapolis, IN 46202

From the Archives: Wofford National Service Papers

Philanthropic studies archivist Angela White poses near the almost 40 boxes of former U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford's national service records. Once processed, IUPUI researchers will be able to study them. Photo by Tim Brouk, Indiana University
Philanthropic studies archivist Angela White poses near the almost 40 boxes of former U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford’s national service records. Once processed, IUPUI researchers will be able to study them. Photo by Tim Brouk, Indiana University

Harris Wofford’s legacy can be found in many of the United States’ most prominent philanthropic initiatives.

The former United States senator co-founded the Peace Corps. He served as chief executive officer for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which runs AmeriCorps and other volunteer domestic programs. He attained these posts and accomplishments after serving as an advisor to President John F. Kennedy and marching alongside Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama.

Just months before his Jan. 21 death, Wofford met with IUPUI philanthropic studies archivist Angela White concerning his 40-plus boxes of materials, memos and transcripts of his seven decades of national service work. There were only a few degrees of separation between Indiana University and the longtime politician and activist from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. After some meetings, the Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives at IUPUI, which supports the work of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, among other clients, were deemed a suitable home for the materials, which were rescued from soot-filled storage spaces and a guest bathroom’s shower stall.

“It’s surprising how many boxes you can get into a shower stall,” White recalled while surveying some of the boxes shelved in the archives below University Library.

In early March, White returned from Wofford’s funeral service in Washington, D.C., with more boxes of records, photos and copies of articles scheduled to arrive soon.

A look inside some of the files in the boxes obtained from Harris Wofford reveals, from top, a copy of his remarks at the 1967 Peace Corps Volunteer Forum, a memo to then-President Bill Clinton and an edited speech from 2005. Photos by Tim Brouk, Indiana University
A look inside some of the files in the boxes obtained from Harris Wofford reveals, from top, a copy of his remarks at the 1967 Peace Corps Volunteer Forum, a memo to then-President Bill Clinton and an edited speech from 2005. Photos by Tim Brouk, Indiana University

Most of Wofford’s surviving civil rights and political career records can be found in the Bryn Mawr College archives, but national service was a significant part of Wofford’s career and drive.

“He served as co-chairman of America’s Promise,” White said. “There’s a little bit of stuff related to his time in the Senate around national service.”

White spent three days sorting receipts, grocery lists and personal letters from the national service materials. Still, it will take her and her staff at least a year to fully process the materials. Only then will they be opened to IUPUI students to study.

“We really had to go piece by piece, which is not something I have to do with most collections when I’m packing them up,” White explained. “There’s a lot more sorting that needs to happen.”

Over the past few weeks, White dove into a few boxes and found some interesting artifacts: a color photograph of Wofford with Sen. Ted Kennedy; a copy of a May 1, 1964, Peace Corps Ethiopia News publication; and a memo to then-President Bill Clinton regarding a discussion they had about national service while on Air Force One.

With a small fraction of the materials analyzed, White has found treasures among the mundane. Still, all items will be made available in time — they must be logged and organized first. About 70 years’ worth of national service materials demands careful attention.

“The thing about Harris Wofford is he’s the most important person whose name you don’t really know,” White said. “Some people say, ‘He was always in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing.’

“He doesn’t have the name recognition of a Kennedy, but his fingerprints are all over — the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, civil rights.”

Read the original article from IUPUI NewsTim Brouk

‘Price of Progress’: New Play Explores Indiana Avenue Stories

A new play authored by IUPUI’s own Vernon A. Williams examines 80 years of history along historic Indiana Avenue, from bebop to hip-hop.

“The Price of Progress” is a two-hour, two-act show inspired by the 2010 book of the same name, written by anthropology professor Paul Mullins and Glenn White, as well as the rich history of the Indiana Avenue District, the Ransom Place neighborhood and the growth of the IUPUI campus.

John Hayes, left, and Jay Fuqua rehearse a scene from “The Price of Progress.” Photo by Tim Brouk, Indiana University

The first act focuses on the music, fashion and businesses along Indiana Avenue. Names like Madam C.J. Walkerjazz guitarist Wes Montgomery and basketball legend Oscar Robertson abound. The second act tells IUPUI history through scenes portraying IUPUI’s founding with a re-creation of a radio interview with former Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar, breakthroughs by the Indiana University School of Medicine, the IUPUI 50th Anniversary Birthday Bash and much more.

“There will be some people in attendance who lived this show,” said Williams, a communications and community engagement strategist who also wrote 2018’s “Divine Nine,” which was staged in the Campus Center Theater. “Most will know much more than we could possibly convey onstage, and there will be some who will learn from it.”

Sponsored by the IUPUI Multicultural Center and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, “The Price for Progress” will be staged March 19, 20 and 22 at the Campus Center. All of the 6 p.m. shows are sold out, but more may be added, according to Williams.

Williams and director Marvin Bardo, who received his master’s degree from the School of Education in 2018, will present a multimedia play with live music, dance, video, and a cast of community and IUPUI performers. Bardo said he first became interested in the history of Indiana Avenue when he was a high school student in northwest Indiana. Classmates moving to Indianapolis to attend IUPUI raised his awareness even more.

“But I had no idea about the combination of the two,” said Bardo, who has directed shows at the Walker Theatre, “and I had no idea about the amount of rich history that was associated with both.”

Jay Fuqua, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the Herron School of Art and Design in 2015, portrays a preacher on the night Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in “The Price of Progress.” The young actor sings and raps in other scenes, too. Fuqua cherishes his years at IUPUI and says his performance has brought him greater appreciation for the history that surrounds the campus.

“Coming into this play, I was completely surprised by the history of IUPUI — how it all began,” Fuqua said. “I had no idea of the struggle and the price it actually cost to have this establishment that we have here today.”

John Hayes, who works in the payroll department in the Office of Financial Services, has been at IUPUI for just a few months, but he brings 40 years of theater experience to the show. As a new Jaguar, he, too, was impressed by the history around the university and how Williams and Bardo were able to transform the stories to the stage.

“I’ve learned more in this show than any other in my 40 years,” said Hayes, who portrays an IUPUI English professor throughout “The Price of Progress.” “It’s informational, and it’s entertaining.”

Read the original article from IUPUI New’ Tim Brouk

Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim with Ed Fallon

On March 1, 2014, Ed Fallon set out with fifty other climate activists on the Great March for Climate Action. The march spanned eight months, starting in Los Angeles and finishing in Washington, DC. Five years after the march, his new book Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim tells the story of their journey.

Ed Fallon is an American activist, politician, talk show host, and author. He served as a member of the Iowa General Assembly from 1993 to 2006.

Co-sponsored by the IUPUI Office of Sustainability and Earth Charter Indiana.


Poetry, Music, & Mind

What are the effects of poetry and music on the mind and the body? Where do art and medicine meet? Join us for a conversation with Adrian Matejka, Nate Marshall, and Eileen Misluk about Poetry, Music & Mind.

Adrian Matejka is a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet who teaches at Indiana University Bloomington and is Poet Laureate of Indiana. His most recent book is Map to the Stars (Penguin, 2017).

Nate Marshall is the author of Wild Hundreds (University of Pittsburgh, 2015) and co-editor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (Haymarket, 2015). He was the star of the award winning full-length documentary Louder Than a Bomb and has been featured on the HBO original series Brave New Voices. He lives on the South Side of Chicago.

Eileen Misluk is Director of Art Therapy and Assistant Clinical Professor at Herron School of Art + Design, IUPUI. She is a registered and board certified art therapist, licensed professional counselor, and licensed mental health counselor.

This event is part of the IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute’s Entanglements Series which puts scientists, social scientists, humanists, and artists in conversation with the audience to ask questions that transcend disciplinary boundaries.

Poetry, Music, & Mind is co-presented with the Department of English at IUPUI and the Reiberg Reading Series at IUPUI. Support for this event comes from the Indiana University New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanitiesgrant program.


Liberal Arts Talks- The Green Challenge Deepens: Environmentalism in the Age of Climate Change by John McCormick

John McCormick revisits his 1995 book The Global Environmental Movement to examine the ways in which environmentalism has evolved in the era of climate change, globalization, the internet, nationalism, and the rise of China. He asks how these five developments have altered the definition of environmental problems, how they have shaped the international response to those problems, and how the relationship between science, economics, trade and technology has exacerbated or addressed environmental change.

Please RSVP here to attend.

How much does this event cost and can I attend?

This event is free and open to the public.

What are my parking options for the event?

Please visit the following link for hourly rates, a visitor parking map, and garages on IUPUI’s campus here
*Note: Closest visitor parking garage to the Campus Center is Vermont St Parking Garage (XB).

Don’t miss out on a stellar talk series! This even will be held at IUPUI Campus Center, CE 305 from 4-5pm on February 27. Did we mention its FREE? We’ll see you there!