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Exhibitions feature social justice, innovative prints, rare books

Graphics by Sean Diffendall

Special Collections and Museums host four new major exhibitions this spring

This spring four new major exhibitions at the University of Delaware will offer the opportunity to explore how photography can provide commentary on social justice and spur social change, how experimentation with printmaking calls attention to significant contributions of African-American artists, and the expansive scope of rare materials in Special Collections.

These exhibitions, presented by Special Collections and Museums of the University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press, are found in gallery spaces across campus, including Old College Gallery, Mechanical Hall Gallery and the Special Collections Gallery.

Click on an exhibition title below to jump to its description and more information:

All exhibitions are free and open to the public.

“Our Strength Is Our People”: The Humanist Photographs of Lewis Hine

On view in Old College Gallery through May 11

A camera can be a tool for social justice. Just look to the work of Lewis Wickes Hine (1874-1940), the father of American documentary photography, who used his skills as a photographer to capture and create powerful images to change minds and spur social change.

While visiting this exhibition, visitors will see 59 of Hine’s rare vintage gelatin silver prints. These cover his overarching, iconic themes of immigration, child labor and the American worker — culminating in Hine’s studies of the construction of the Empire State Building.

Often alongside social workers, attorneys and progressive committees working toward reform, Hine captured images that simultaneously celebrate the dignity of workers, expose and fight abusive labor practices such as child labor, and create empathy for the immigrant experience.

Organized by art2art Circulating Exhibitions, LLC, all works in the exhibition are from the private collection of Michael Mattis and Judith Hochberg.

Related Programming

Exhibition Reception and Tour from 5-7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 15, in Old College Gallery.

Responding to What Is Alive Before You: The Photography of Levinstein and Fink

On view in Old College West Gallery through May 11

Employing photography as a medium of both observation and self-expression, Leon Levinstein (1910-88) and Larry Fink (born in 1941) create personally driven responses to the world around them.

Visitors to this exhibition will explore how two artists belonging to the robust 20th-century tradition of social and street photography capture pictures that speak to their individual personalities and perspectives.

Both artists’ scenes of New York are included in the exhibition: Levinstein’s images show the harsh circumstances of everyday life on the streets, while Fink contrasts the city’s glittering nightlife with the rural life of his neighbors in Martins Creek, Pennsylvania. Levinstein’s well-known photographs of Coney Island are also on view.

All of the photographs featured in the exhibition were donated by UD alumna Tami Morachnick, Class of 1980, and her husband, Mark Greenberg.

Related Programming

Exhibition Reception and Tour from 5-7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 15, in Old College Gallery.

Curator’s Tour from 12:15-1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21, in Old College West Gallery.

Problem Solving: Highlights from the Experimental Printmaking Institute

On view in Mechanical Hall Gallery, Feb. 7 through May 11

In a 2014 interview, Curlee Holton, founder of the Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI) at Lafayette College, said, “Experimentation in the printmaking studio has a lot to do with problem solving.” This idea is central to this exhibition.

The exhibition features oversized prints in a variety of media alongside other assemblages, paintings and sculptures from Special Collections and Museums’ extensive collection of African-American art.

In 2016, in celebration of the EPI’s 20th year as a leading center for innovative experiments in printmaking, Holton made a gift of more than 50 prints to the Museums Collections, part of University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press. This gift showcases the creative depth and innovation of the students, visiting artists and master printers who have shared studio space at the EPI over the years, and calls attention to the significant contributions of African-American artists to the art world of the 20th and 21st centuries.

In this exhibition, selections from the gift are on display alongside other important works by over a dozen EPI-affiliated artists within Special Collections and Museums’ permanent collection. The pairing of these materials highlights the problem solving inherent to artistic production.

Related Programming

Exhibition Reception and Program from 5-7 p.m., Monday, March 5, in Mechanical Hall Gallery. Speakers include Curlee Raven Holton, founder of the EPI, and Robin Holder, a featured EPI-affiliated artist.

Exhibition-Inspired Poetry Reading from 6:30-8 p.m., Wednesday, April 4, in Mechanical Hall Gallery.

Curator’s Tour from 12:15-1 p.m., Thursday, April 26, in Mechanical Hall Gallery.

60 at 60: The 60th Anniversary of the University of Delaware Library Associates

On view in the Special Collections Gallery, Feb. 7 through June 15

On the second floor of Morris Library is Special Collections, an area where visitors can engage with rare and unique primary source materials, including books, manuscripts and ephemera, for both personal and professional research interests.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the University of Delaware Library Associates (UDLA), the Library’s friends group, the exhibition features 60 books acquired from 2008 through 2018 that illustrate the breadth of subjects available within Special Collections for users.

The material on display features well-known titles, including Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus, the first edition of the novel to appear with author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly’s name on the title page and include illustrations of the monster for the first time; and famous authors, like William Shakespeare and an early quarto edition of the play The Two Noble Kinsmen he co-wrote with John Fletcher. It also highlights more obscure publications and authors, such as the first issue of “Foo!: Lampoons and Parody,” a rare and short-lived comic produced and printed by underground comic artist and Delawarean R. Crumb and his brother. 

Contemporary Chinese Carvings: Classic Concepts

From the Collection of Francis Hueber
Continuing exhibition on view in the Mineralogical Museum, Penny Hall, Feb. 7 through May 11

A variety of quartz, the 20th-century Chinese carvings of agate on view in this exhibition show forms that date back thousands of years. The fine carving of this hard material was made possible by the modern development of high-speed diamond tools.

In addition to the exhibition, the Permanent Collection remains on display. It highlights minerals from the founding du Pont Collection, regional materials from Pennsylvania, worldwide specimens and thematic displays of crystallography, growth phenomena, and cave minerals.

Related Programming

Reception and Curator’s Talk from 5-7 p.m., Wednesday, March 14, in the Mineralogical Museum.

Special Collections and Museums

Special Collections and Museums is part of the University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press. An interdisciplinary collection of rare and unique materials can be accessed for study and research and is also featured in exhibitions in the Special Collections Gallery in Morris Library, Old College Gallery, Mechanical Hall Gallery and the Mineralogical Museum in Penny Hall. All Special Collections and Museums events and exhibitions are free and open to the public.

The collection has particular strengths in the subjects of history and Delawareana; science and technology; art and literature; primary source material such as political papers and ships’ logs; American art of the 20th century, especially prints, photographs and work by African-American artists; European prints; Inuit art; Pre-Columbian art; and minerals. In addition, the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, gifted to UD in 2016, strengthens the collection’s focus on British literature of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

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