Gilchrist’s ‘Chalk Talk’ lecture focuses on Aboriginal art
By Laura Sim
Published on Monday, October 29, 2012
In advance of Saturday’s Homecoming football game against Harvard University, the Hood Museum of Art hosted the fourth installment of the “Faculty Chalk Talk” lecture series led by curator Stephen Gilchrist. Featuring different lecture subjects and hosted before home football games, the “Chalk Talk” lectures — a program that has been free of charge and open to the public since it began in 2003 — aims to educate not only the students of the College and its local community, but also alumni who may be returning to campus for sporting events.
“The ‘Chalk Talk’ series started back in 2003 when we had a lot of alumni coming back to campus for home football games, and we wanted to connect them with what was going on at the College and give them the classroom experience, so the ‘Chalk Talk’ was born from that,” “Chalk Talk” Program Director Kate Barlow said. “Next year will be its 10th year, and we’re focusing on engaging the alumni and also the local community in the intellectual life of the college.”
Each lecture features one faculty member presenting on a subject of his or her expertise. For last year’s “Chalk Talk” series, the lectures revolved around the subjects of politics and economics. This year, in honor of the College’s Year of the Arts, the talks are appropriately centered on the different arts on campus, from music to drama to art history.
“Last year and this year have been the first years that the ‘Chalk Talks’ were themed,” Barlow said. “The talks have been varied this year, and it’s been exciting for me because it’s been the first year I’ve managed the program, and this year, we wanted to really choose people from different fields of the arts and have different faculty members from all over.”
Thus far, the “Chalk Talk” series has hosted a wide range of lectures focusing on the arts, from studying Pablo Picasso’s relationship with Gertrude Stein to the art of theatrical storytelling. The lectures have tapped into an array of different artistic threads.
For Homecoming weekend, the talk focused on Aboriginal art from Australia, which is also the focus of the Hood exhibit titled “Crossing Cultures: The Own and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art.” Curated by Gilchrist, who works at the National Gallery of Victoria, the exhibit was installed earlier this fall and features over 100 works by modern indigenous artists from all over Australia.
“For this [lecture], because it was Homecoming weekend, the directors wanted the Hop to showcase what they’ve currently got going on at the museum,” Barlow said. “It’s important to me that we engage the alumni in the life of the College when they visit.”
For curator Gilchrist, his interest in the aboriginal art of Australia stemmed from familial ties, he said.
“My mom is Aboriginal and my father is Australian, so I always had an interest in these things and the artifacts associated with them,” Gilchrist said. “I was interested in all types of art, really. I did art history for my undergraduate degree, and I did an internship with a museum.”
The current exhibit on Australian art also provides a smooth segue from last year’s exhibit on Native American art.
“[Dartmouth] is a great place for the study of indigeneity,” Gilchrist said. “I was very happy that we had the Native American show here last year, and in terms of protocol, I think that was the right thing.”
For Gilchrist, the opportunity to showcase an exhibit such as “Crossing Cultures” presents a number of advantages.
“Dartmouth has this reputation for being this highly prestigious Ivy League college, and it’s a pinnacle of knowledge,” Gilchrist said. “It’s positioning different types of knowledge in a place like this that is interesting to me.”
As for the future of the “Chalk Talk” series, Barlow hopes to reach a larger and younger community that extends beyond the local residents of Hanover and visiting alumni.
“As a program, we’ve been reaching the alumni community and the general Hanover community, but we don’t get to see many students at the ‘Chalk Talk,’” Barlow said. “I would like to see more students attend because it would give the opportunity for students to see their professors in a different light, performing outside the classroom on something of their expertise.”
The fifth and final installment of this year’s “Chalk Talk” series will be presented on Nov. 10 before the football game against Brown University and will feature a presentation on music and sound by music professor Steve Swayne.
Gilchrist’s Homecoming lecture, titled “Indigenous Ways of Knowing: An Introduction to Crossing Cultures,” was held at the Hood Museum of Art Auditorium on Saturday at 10 a.m. and was attended by faculty, returning alumni and Hanover residents.