This post is written by Megan Barrett, a long time student employee in the Digital Library Center in Special Collections & Archives. We’ll be sorry to see her graduate this spring but we know she’s off to big things!
I am currently a senior studying Art History, and I’ve had the opportunity to work as a Special Collections & Archives assistant for the past three years. I’ve helped with a number of fascinating projects, with topics ranging from Napoleonic newspapers to environmental studies, and this semester, I got to spend some time with the collection of John MacKay Shaw.
One of the books I worked with for this project was a poetry collection entitled The Poetical Star, published in London in 1843. The collection begins with an epigraph by the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne: “I have here only made a nosegay of culled flowers, and have brought nothing of my own but the thread that binds them.”
As a student interested in Romanticism, one of the poems in the collection that caught my eye was the “Description of a Mad-House” from Lord Byron’s The Lament of Tasso. The poem narrates the time that the Italian poet Torquato Tasso spent in a mental hospital, and it has become the subject of one of my favorite paintings by Eugène Delacroix, Tasso in the Madhouse (1839). The Poetical Star also includes poetry on abstract ideas of love and time, as well as comedic poetry and wordplay.
An exhibition of new work by Amy Fleming, The Age of Experience: We Tell Better Stories, is coming to the Claude Pepper Museum at the Claude Pepper Center, 636 West Call Street, Tallahassee, on the campus of Florida State University. The exhibition runs from December 1, 2017, to January 19, 2018, with an opening reception December 1, 6 – 9 p.m.
The exhibition is funded by a grant from Puffin Foundation Ltd. The Puffin Foundation provides grants to artists whose work addresses social issues, or who may be excluded from mainstream opportunities due to race, gender, or social philosophy.
This exhibition works to change the narrative around the way we discuss aging by focusing attention on the many vibrant members of our elder community. Ageism is a byproduct of a hyperconsumerist mindset: the disposability of mass-produced goods, the replacement of “old” with “new” without regard to quality or continued usefulness feeds into this attitude. In The Age of Experience: We Tell Better Stories, images of mass-produced discards find new life as impossible robes and royal collars made from pump valves and vacuum tubes, pull tab rings reappear as chain mail, soda bottles form crowns and halos.
Amy has been working with members of the City of Tallahassee Senior Center to create a series of screen and relief printed portraits. Participants in the project range in age from 60 to their mid 90’s. She became interested in problems facing older adults when two family members were dismissed from their jobs when they entered their 60’s despite having excellent work records. One is still having difficulty finding full-time employment.
Amy Fleming is an Adjunct Professor of Printmaking and Print Lab Manager at Florida State University. She is the recipient of a grant from Puffin Foundation Ltd., a Robert Rauschenberg/Barrier Island Group for the Arts award, has been an Associate Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts artists residency, Artist in Residence at 621 Gallery and a Summer River Fellows Program resident artist at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia. Her work is included in public and private collections including the Jean and Alexander Heard Library at Vanderbilt University, and the Southern Graphics Council International permanent collection at Kennesaw State University.
Senator Claude Pepper, D-FL, served as chair of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Aging from 1977 through 1983. Pepper led the fight against elder abuse, established legislation to fund Alzheimer’s research and care centers, and pushed energetically against age stereotyping. One of his famous quotes is “Ageism is as odious as racism and sexism.”