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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ARTISTS AFTER MOBY-DICK Often the Hofstra Museum becomes a collaborative creature through projects with other Hofstra University departments or with organizations not having a direct campus affiliation. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1819-1891), the Hofstra Museum entered a double collaboration, one with The Melville Society for this publication, the other with the Hofstra Cultural Center for the conference and exhibition of things Melville and Moby-Dick. Both catalog and exhibition have been originated by the Hofstra Museum, but the catalog also is a publication of The Melville Society (the Leviathan series), and I am pleased to acknowledge this union of resources toward the creation and dissemination of knowledge about an artistic work of unique value and place in American culture. Dr.John Bryant has been instrumental in helping to forge this union, and 1thank him for providing access to The Melville Society audience in addition to the Museum’s own audience. The exhibition dates (September 4-October 24, 2001) have been coordinated with the University’s conference celebrating 150 years of the “whale” (October 18, 19 and 20, ZOOl), and the scope of the exhibition, mostly visual interpretations of Moby-Dick, required the services of three guest curators: Dr. Robert K. Wallace, Northern Kentucky University; Dr. Elizabeth Schultz, University of Kansas; and Dr. John Bryant, Hofstra University, New York. Each of the guest curators assumed responsibility for a section of the exhibition, which fills two of the Museum’s galleries. The Rochelle and Irwin A. Lowenfeld Conference and Exhibition Hall (Axinn Library, 10th floor) has good space for Dr. Wallace’s show, “Chasing Moby-Dick Across Paper and Canvas: Five Decades of Free-Floating Literary Art.” The artworks selected by Dr. Wallace are not illustrations of the text, nor works of art bound by the text. Rather, they float free of the text, exist independently of the text and do not endeavor to illustrate it. In his catalog essay Dr. Wallace writes, “... American abstract artists were drawn to the universalism of Melville’simaginative abstraction ... .” He then provides a series of visual, and corresponding literary, forays into various American aesthetics and metaphysics since Moby-Dick appeared in print. Incidentally, figuration andlor abstraction have become, again, conversation topics for visual artists. Dr. Wallace introduces his essay with Melville’s interior monologue (through Ishmael) on this same topic from 1851. The universality of Melville’s imagination requires no further elaboration. Dr. Elizabeth Schultz organized the principal section of the exhibition as installed in the David Filderman Gallery (Axinn Library, ninth floor), “‘The Common Continent of Men’: Visualizing Race in Moby-Dick.” As the title suggests, Dr. Schultz’s visual materials and essay interpret Melville’s portrayal of the ethnicities and races inhabiting the Pequod, reflecting, in part, Melville’s “passionate vision of a democratic society of diverse and equal individuals.” The visual materials selected by Dr. Schultz, however, are in contrast with Dr. Wallace’s. The section “Visualizing Race in Moby-Dirk” has illustrations of the text, bound by the text, and not the free-floatersin the gallery a floor above. Yet, her interest is not just the various attempts to 3 intersperseillustrationsamong pages of text; rather, Dr. Schultz leads toward insightsinto illustrators’portrayals of the importance (or not) of race and ethnicity as initiated by Moby-Dick. Here we have a writer commenting upon image-makers’(and editors’) interpretations of another writer who created a multiracial microcosm for a xenophobic macrocosm. The remainder of the Filderman Gallery’sspace is taken by Dr.John Bryant’ssection of the exhibition,which he titles “Moby-Dick:History of a Loose Fish: Manuscript, Print and Culture.” In his catalog essay,Dr. Bryant presents a biography of the printings of the novel’s text to complement the display of “... objects that represent the THING itself, not simply the text of Moby-Dick __.but its various manifestations in manuscript, print and other cultural artifacts.” (Readingthis essay obliged me to recollect the edition I read while an undergraduate - a paperback weathered from the beach and with harsh, monochrome illustrations,but I believe with all the parts.) An exhibition of three sections, a publication of three illustrated...


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