Treasures of Special Collections on display

Bride of FrankensteinSyracuse University Libraries’ newest exhibition, “4,000 Years and Counting,” features treasures from the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) that highlight the breadth of the libraries’ special collections–from second-century-B.C. cuneiform tablets to the papers of notable contemporary figures like Joyce Carol Oates.

The exhibition occupies the display case on the first floor of Bird Library and the gallery on the 6th floor, which is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. The exhibition will remain up until August 30, 2013.

The exhibition opens with the origins of special collections at SU: the 1887 purchase of the eminent German historian Leopold von Ranke’s library. In support of the acquisition, University Librarian C. W. Bennett made this assessment: “For this has always been my theory, that six thousand to ten thousand well-selected volumes are sufficient for the wants of the undergraduate, but to keep the professors from mental hunger and starvation, sources, authorities and books of a very different kind must be had in large numbers and in special collections.”

Special collections was born of the Ranke library and matured in the 1960s under the leadership of Chancellor William Pearson Tolley (1901-96), a noted collector of rare books. Librarians solicited the personal papers of the best and brightest of the day, including pediatrician Benjamin Spock, architect Marcel Breuer, photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White, Nobel Laureate Albert Schweitzer and Grove Press publisher Barney Rosset. The Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive, with its world-class collection of wax-cylinder recordings and state-of-the-art reformatting studio, was founded in 1963. These notable accomplishments gave rise to subject areas in which SU could claim to be among the best in the world, including architecture and design, popular culture, and the literary and artistic expression of radical ideology. This exhibition offers an introduction to these and other collecting areas.

SCRC continues to build upon historical strengths while new areas of collecting have emerged; for example, the history of broadcasting. Increasingly, special collections include not just print and manuscript items, but a growing number of material-culture artifacts–from clay tablets to Tupperware–and a variety of media formats, such as Edison wax cylinders. SCRC’s mission is to collect and preserve the best of today for the researchers of tomorrow, and increasingly that means bits and bytes as well as paper and print.

For more information about special collections at the Syracuse University Libraries, contact, Sean Quimby, senior director of special collections.

The County Line Road: photography by Sarah Pfohl in Biblio Gallery

Pines before Mother, 2013A collection of photographs by Sarah Pfohl called The County Line Road is featured in the Biblio Gallery on the 4th floor of Bird Library from July 3 to August 30, 2013. Pfohl is a third-year MFA graduate student in Art Photography at SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.

In reflecting on her photography, Pfohl says:

Human life relies on the natural resources housed, cultivated, and stewarded in rural areas for survival. This importance is uncomplicated but oftentimes overlooked. To construct a visual representation of the rural as the close interrelationship between plants, land, and humans, I photograph a rural place with a human figure in it and use composition, light/shadow interplay, and scale to visually integrate the ground and figure. Plants play a central role in the images as the human figure places her body to serve as their backdrop, alters her posture and gesture to repeat their shape, or allows her face or body to be fragmented by the surrounding plant structures.

I made these photographs in southern Madison County, New York within the 26-acre tract of rural land my immediate and extended family has lived on since 1960. As the natural resources housed, or purported to be housed, across and within the land draw attention to southern Madison County from outside developers the place–like many rural areas in the United States–has become a contested territory. The construction of the rural as the interrelationship between plants, land, and humans, embedded compositionally and conceptually into this body of work, argues for a thoughtful and accountable process of rural development that anchors decisions regarding land use in the need for the rural all people intrinsically have.

The human figure in these photographs is my Mother. She grew up on a farm, teaches 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade science, and has lived in rural New York for 52 years. I choose to photograph my Mother as her interactions with the powerful steadfastness of both the plant-life and land in this place over the course of her life have authored her physical appearance.

Additional photographs from this project can be viewed at

For more information about exhibiting in the Biblio Gallery, contact Ann Skiold at or see the Biblio Gallery website.

Recent VPA grad Dana Brabant exhibits works in the Biblio Gallery

Photograph by Dana BrabantA collection of photographs by Dana Brabant, an Art Education major who graduated this May, is featured in the Biblio Gallery on the 4th floor of Bird Library until June 30, 2013.

In describing her work — a tribute to her sister who passed away — Brabant says, “My work this semester encompasses the themes of life, death and hope. I have used various mediums to communicate these ideas, such as, fabric, performance, cut paper, and installation. A performance which took place in Coyne Gallery on May 6th,  2013 called “Offering Lament” is documented through photographs in this exhibition. Also included are works in cut paper which I call “cut drawings”. Through my work I hope to empathize, evoke empathy and also provide hope and light amidst despair.”

For more information about exhibiting in the Biblio Gallery, contact Ann Skiold at or see the Biblio Gallery website.

Holocaust, Memory, and the Visual Arts

HolocaustStudents in Professor Samuel D. Gruber’s Holocaust, Memory and the Visual Arts class (JSP 300 / ETS 410) have installed a small but compelling exhibition on the fourth floor of Bird Library to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (April 19 – May 8, 1943) and to remember more generally the millions of victims of the Holocaust. The exhibit explicitly pays tribute to the many artists who were imprisoned, enslaved, tortured and murdered in ghettos, concentrations camps and death camps by the Nazi regimes between 1939 and 1945.

As part of class assignment students chose artwork created by victims of the Holocaust – many of whom subsequently were killed – to represent different types of spiritual and creative resistance to the Nazi oppression. The students discovered through the study of the work of imprisoned artists that besides armed uprising, there were many ways in which Jews and other victims confronted and resisted their systematic brutalization and dehumanization.

The display features reproductions of art created by Holocaust victims (mostly Jews) inside camps or in hiding. The paintings and drawings represent different reasons prisoners made art when inspiration was as elusive as hope. Each work is categorized according to themes introduced by art historian Ziva Amishai-Maisels including official art, art as spiritual resistance, art for the affirmation of life, art as witness, and art as catharsis.

We remember these artists as victims as well as witnesses. They produced much of their work in secret, knowing that if caught, they would likely lose their lives. Most of them were murdered, and only a few survived to personally bear witness to their experiences.

Artists remembered include Dinah Gottliebova/Babbit, Bedrich Fritta, Karel Fleischmann, Malvina Schalkova, Felix Nussbaum, Leo Haas, and Henri Pieck.

The exhibition was created by Colleen Bidwill, Ellen Fitzpatrick, Alise Fisher, David Kay, Mattie Kramer, Kaitlyn Martin, under the supervision of Professor Samuel D. Gruber.

Tourist: photography by Jeniva Quinones in Biblio Gallery

quinonesA collection of photographs by Jeniva Quinones called Tourist is featured in the Biblio Gallery on the 4th floor of Bird Library from March 22 to April 22, 2013. Quinones is an Art Photography major in VPA.

In reflecting on her photography, Quinones says, “Until the summer of 2012 I had never been a tourist in a foreign country. Being a New Yorker, born and bred, I was predisposed to an anti-tourist mindset. Studying in Florence showed me what it is like for people consciously leaving their comfort zone to explore the world. I no longer knew the area, the customs, or even the language. I felt lost and overwhelmed everywhere I went. I couldn’t even buy cold medicine without a handwritten note from a faculty member. “Tourist” is a series of self-portrait photomontages made during my semester in Florence, each interrupted in a different fashion to visually express my emotional disconnect from the country I was living in. This exhibition also includes a series of untitled photomontages I made in Florence.”

For more information about exhibiting in the Biblio Gallery, contact Ann Skiold at or see the Biblio Gallery website.