Iowa State University


Lynette Pohlman, University Museums, (515) 294-3342
Mary Atherly, University Museums, (515) 294-3342
Marilyn Vaughan, University Museums, (515) 294-3342
Steve Sullivan, News Service, (515) 294-3720


AMES, Iowa -- Ranging from heavenly to horrific, the many ways male artists have defined women's role in society will be on display at Iowa State University's Brunnier Art Museum Sept. 6, 1997, through Jan. 4, 1998.

"In a Man's Brain: Images of Women" is a provocative exhibit of original prints from Scotland spanning 500 years.

"The prints reflect the thinking of different eras," said curator Mary Atherly, collections manager for the University Museums. "The intent of the exhibit is to stimulate discussion among men and women about how our relationships have changed, evolved or remained the same over time."

The exhibit contains 86 lithographs, etchings and woodcuts from the Hunterian Art Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland. This is the first time these works of art have left Scotland, Atherly said. Sixty- nine artists are represented, including Picasso, Degas, Matisse, Whistler and Renoir. A vivid red woodcut by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, depicting a woman's hair encircling a man's head, is the source of the exhibit's name and theme.

Amy Namowitz Worthen, a Des Moines art historian and contemporary printmaker who authored an extensive essay for the exhibit catalog, said the works define women through looks, behavior, character and symbolic interpretations.

"Art not only reflects society's values about the nature and role of women, but it is equally true that art actively helps define how society thinks about women," she said in her essay.

"In a Man's Brain" is a culmination of Atherly's three-month sojourn to Scotland in 1994. While participating in an exchange program between Iowa State and the University of Glasgow, Atherly reviewed thousands of prints at the Hunterian, which is part of the oldest university in Scotland.

Atherly selected the prints, dating from 1497 to 1990, for their content and different printmaking techniques. The diverse exhibit features powerful portrayals of women, from nudes to elaborately costumed women, from beleaguered mothers to innocent young girls.

Atherly was impressed by the expressions on the faces of the women she saw while viewing the prints.

"Some really caught my eye," she said. "For instance, the despair of a mother sitting with her small children. You can look in her face and just feel what she is feeling."

University Museums will sponsor a series of educational events in conjunction with the exhibit. Christopher Allan, retired director of the Hunterian who helped Atherly with the exhibit, and Worthen will give lectures. Allan, now a full-time abstract artist, will be in Ames for nearly a month to speak to students and the public and will create three new works in an open artist's studio at the Brunnier.

"In a Man's Brain" will travel to Beloit College, Wisconsin, after the Brunnier showing and then return for exhibit at the Hunterian. The Brunnier Art Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.


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