USM Art Department

MNAI Convenes: Northern Imageries with Dr. Donna Cassidy & Dr. Libby Bischof

Northern Imageries

JOIN US for two presentations that examine how the North—variously conceived as the Arctic, Canada, and even upstate New York and northern New England—was a “topography of the imagination”: visually stunning and emotionally powerful but also marked with personal and cultural values.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Register today!
Event is free.

Dr. Donna Cassidy will present a talk that suggests the dual, seemingly contradictory strains of the poetic and the ideological in the art and writing of several early 20th century modernists who worked in the North Atlantic—Rockwell Kent, Gertrude Käsebier, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Marsden Hartley. In their representations of the North, they went beyond the neo-Romanticism and personal expression associated with modernism to engage with culture of the time—its antimodernism, gender ideals, and imperialism.

Followed by Dr. Libby Bichof, whose talk will focus on recovery work to be done on late-19th and early-twentieth century female photographers—both amateur and professional. The recovery work she's been engaged in for the past few years in both Maine and Iceland—particularly her 2018 journey up the Eastern Coast of Iceland to Djupivogur in search of Nicoline Weywadt, Iceland’s first female photographer. This recovery work offers alternate worldviews, as we find coastal women in the North Atlantic looking both inward and outward with their cameras—documenting rapidly changing environments and lifeways.



Dr. Libby Bischof is Professor of History and the Executive Director of the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education at the University of Southern Maine. A visual historian, Bischof specializes in the history of photography, particularly in Maine, and teaches nineteenth-century American history and the history of Maine. She is currently at work on a project that compares the work of nineteenth-century photographers in Maine and Iceland.

Dr. Donna Cassidy is Professor of Art History at the University of Southern Maine. She teaches courses on American art, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European art, as well as gender and the visual arts. For nearly thirty years, she taught in USM’s American & New England Studies Program. She is the author of Painting the Musical City: Jazz and Cultural Identity in American Art, 1910-1940 (1997) and Marsden Hartley: Race, Region, and Nation (2005), and co-author (with Elizabeth Finch and Randall R. Griffey) of Marsden Hartley’s Maine (2017). Her current research project deals with an aspect of modernism and transnationalism: Looking North: U.S. Artists in Quebec and Atlantic Canada 1890-1940.

Justin Levesque
 is an interdisciplinary artist. He earned his BFA in Photography from the University of Southern Maine and has exhibited throughout the United States, and internationally in the United Kingdom and Iceland. Levesque is the recipient of three Maine Arts Commission Artist Project grants and was named one of thirteen emerging photographers under 30 in Maine by Maine Media Workshops + College. He was a fellow of The Arctic Circle in Svalbard and has created independent artist residencies with organizations in New England and Iceland including Microsoft's New England Research and Development Center in Cambridge, MA.


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