|Jim Dow to give photography lecture at Museum|
On Thursday, Feb. 5, Jim Dow will give the Elaine McKenzie Memorial Lecture at the North Dakota Museum of Art. Dow’s presentation will begin at 7 p.m., followed by a book signing. Dow will not lecture the audience directly, but rather invite them to participate, much like a National Endowment of Arts selection panel. This event is free and open to the public.
When describing his teaching methods at Tufts University or the Boston Museum School, Dow says, “At the end of each year in my photo history course, I do a mock NEA-style judging of 30 different photographic artists whose work has either been shown or published in the past year. I show eight images by each artist without comment and the group votes in the NEA style ("1" if you like it, "2" if you are neutral, "3" if you don't like it). We then tabulate the results and go through the roster in the order that they voted, commenting on and discussing each individual's work. What inevitably happens is that there are fascinating instances of misrepresentation…”
Dow goes on to say, “What I find fascinating is that it works across audiences, that is in schools, workshops, with general art lovers. The same things tend to happen, so it is illuminating about human nature as well as art. I preface it by discussing the method, its history, etc. and finish by proposing that we do a version of this all the time in our own lives, ex. racial profiling, comparison shopping, looking at medical slides for cancer patterns, etc. This brings it all closer to home.”
The Elaine McKenzie Memorial Lecture is an annual Museum event that honors Elaine McKenzie who was a founding staff member of the Museum, and, in the words of the Museum Director, Laurel Reuter, ". . . one of the world's loveliest women, a person with an educated heart." Elaine Lau McKenzie was from Hawaii, where she received a degree in literature from the University of Hawaii. Family and friends have established an Elaine McKenzie Memorial Endowment within the North Dakota Museum of Art Foundation to fund the Lecture series. Past lectures include Marly Kaul of Bemidji, Minn., and notable Native American artist Edgar Heap of Birds of Oklahoma. Most recently, Betty Monkman, former White House curator, presented her lecture titled "40 Years of Art at the White House: From Jacqueline Kennedy to Laura Bush."
Jim Dow earned a B.F.A. and M.F.A. in graphic design and photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1965 and 1968. An early influence was Walker Evans's seminal book "American Photographs" (1938). Dow has taught photography at Harvard, Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and his work has been widely exhibited. Among his series is "Corner Shops of Britain" (1995), which features facades of small family-run businesses: vitrine-like shop windows showcase goods from candy jars to jellied eels. Another series, "Time Passing" (1984-2004), captures North Dakota "folk art" such as rural road signage, hand-painted billboards, and ornate gravestones. In 2004 the Museum published a book of Dow's work titled, "Marking the Land: Jim Dow in North Dakota." Of the 300-plus photographs Dow took in North Dakota from 1981 to the present, the Museum selected nearly 60 to travel throughout the state as part of its Rural Arts Initiative.