Nature spirits memorial to victims
Hilarie Johnston '76, Exhibitions Coordinator at Haverford's Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, gave a September 19 gallery talk on her paintings and bronze sculptures of hamadryads-mythological wood nymphs who live their entire lives in trees-as a memorial to Cantor Fitzgerald employees who died at the World Trade Center. Her exhibit opened last spring in time for her 25th reunion at Bryn Mawr.

Johnston began working on hamadryads years ago when she was spending hours painting outdoors in nature. "I was painting lots of foregrounds and skies, and somehow that gradually narrowed down to a few trees, and then to one tree," she said. "Then one day, I turned a painting upside down, and I realized that it looked like a looming figure." Whether the day is sunny or cloudy, Johnston sees movement and color reflected around objects as she concentrates-" I think Cezanne did, too"-and works to break up edges. (This is harder to do on her sculptures, whose shapes are more physically defined.)

At Bryn Mawr and Haverford, Johnston says she received a classical rather than an academic art education, which trains a person to become aware of how and what they see, to transfer that to their hands, and then to render it in a medium. Green, blue, gold and amber flicker and spiral through light and shadow in her four large paintings, named named Winter, Autumn, Winter and Summer Storm. Spring is her next project. For these pieces, Johnston switched from watercolor to layers of bee swax and linseed oil mixed with small amount of pigment for a translucent effect. She means her brush strokes to look free, although "They're actually incredibly intellectual and tortured. I sit and look at a painting for a half hour, get up and put three brush marks on, and 70 percent of the wipe them off again with a paper towel and then sit there for another 10 or 15 minutes thinking about what was wrong with them. " Each painting takes at least a year to create, as do the large sculptures, which Johnst on cast herself in bronze. She creates the form first in clay, primarily using her hands. Johnston learned to cast bronze during her graduate study at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, which has a foundry.

Leslie B. Clark Professor in the Humanities Steven Z. Levine, who is chair of the history of art department and director of the Center for Visual Culture, asked Johnston if, in working in oil painting and cast sculpture, she sees herself as being "part of a dead culture." The exhibition shows "representations of women's bodies, which are forbidden in Islam," Levine said. "We have a situation here in visual culture where these works and Greek classical work strike more than a billion people around th e world as pornographic, inappropriate, idolatrous. But we're taking care of our dead insofar as we honor the human figure in painting and sculpture. Was this a memorial even before the attacks?"

"Yes, I think so," Johnston said, "because in our tradition … the history of our human ancestors is more important to us than a future paradise. I would love to make tombstones, and I wish that people would appreciate them more. Millions of people love Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris because of [the tombstone sculptures]." She noted that Cantor Fitzgerald founder B. Gerald Cantor had assembled the world's largest and most comprehensive private collection of works by Auguste Rodin, many of which he don ated to institutions around the world. A collection of casts from Rodin bronzes were displayed in a private gallery in the World Trade Center. Johnston said she thinks that the casts, which lie crumpled somewhere in the rubble, would make stunning memorials at the site.

Bronze sculptures and paintings of hamadryads, mythological wood nymphs who
live their entire lives in trees, by Hillarie Johnston '76 in an exhibit at
Haverford's Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, where she is Exhibitions Coordinator.
Johnston gave a September 19 gallery talk as a memorial to Cantor Fitzgerald
employees who died at the World Trade Center.

Complex issues, subtle approaches
Bryn Mawr is one with other top institutions of higher learning in its efforts to promote an intellectual understanding of what has happened. Faculty are concerned that the attacks could create pretexts to stifle the vigorous exchange of different points of view upon which democracy depends. They caution that explanations of anger against the United States in the Middle East should not be confused with justifications of acts of terrorism.

A September 13 forum at Founders Hall began with four Haverford faculty each relating the one piece of advice they would give to U.S. political leaders making policy decisions or what contexts they would ask them to consider. On September 25, Professor of Sociology Mary Osirim and Professor of Anthropology Rick Davis, co-directors of the Center for Ethnicities, Communities and Social Policy, moderated a panel discussion on the history of negative stereotyping of ethnic groups in the United States during ti mes of national crisis.

Faculty from Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Penn, Villanova and Rosemont College spoke at a September 28 teach-in on world affairs and U.S. policy issues raised by the terrorist attacks. Organized on behalf of a broader group of faculty members by Jane Caplan, Marjorie Walter Goodhart Professor of History, and Marc Ross, the five-hour discussion covered topics that included the history of U.S. involvement with Pakistan and its support of radical mujahedin during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Bin Laden net work, and the effects of domestic violence in Northern Ireland.

Among the concerns reiterated by faculty at this and earlier discussions were that forceful military strikes in the Middle East will only result in more violent retaliations; that the attacks of September 11 should not be called "acts of war" but be reframed as crimes that require investigation and prosecution; that the U.S. must work to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with recognition of the national rights and legitimacy of both groups; and tha t America's ignorance about the geography, history, religions and cultures of other parts of the world is reflected in its policy decisions.

Associate Professor of Political Science Michael Allen reviewed the transformation of the international political economy over the last 30 years from "a patchwork of nation states overlaid by networks to a transnational system of regional societies." Allen said he is "not yet convinced from the public's discourse" that it has recognized the resulting changes in the nature of security, symbolic space and interpersonal space, and that "transnational systems beg more of a police response than a military one."

Visiting Professor of Sociology Carol Joffe expressed her concerns that mobilization for war has already affected the most vulnerable people in the United States with the denial of unemployment compensation and health care benefits for laid off workers but higher priority on tax cuts for the rich. Visiting Professor of Social Work and Social Research Sanford Schramm, who has testified before Congress disputing the success of welfare reform, said that while he is "not suggesting that the catastrophe of Sept ember 11 is in any way a consequence of the global economy and our leadership-it definitely is connected and creates the necessity for us to look seriously at our role in leading and building a global economy that is increasing inequality, economic exploitation, and the oppression of millions of people around the world in new forms of economic activity that also have profound domestic consequences as we scale back our social welfare entitlements, privatize, and rely more on the market to work its own way."

One of the concerns on campus first raised at the September 11 gathering was the anger and violence directed towards Arab-Americans and other ethnic minorities. A Bryn Mawr junior who is Muslim and wears the chador, a loose black garment covering the body and hair, said other students had asked her that morning: "Why don't you dig a big hole for yourself and die?" and "Why don't you go back to where you came from?"

"I respect everyone here as my brothers and sisters," she said. "You may have scorn for me. You may hate me. You may hate the way I look. But I will always have love and respect for every single one of you. That is my duty as a Muslim. That is the duty of every Muslim."

To help educate the community about Islam and the actions of practicing Muslims, the Bi-Co Muslim Students Association (MSA) held open Islamic prayer ceremonies on Founders Green at Haverford and Merion Green at Bryn Mawr, followed by discussions.

"I think it's vital that people in this country learn about Islamic culture," said Haverford Professor of Comparative Religions Michael Sells. "The ignorance is overwhelming-start with the Koran and go on to all the aspects of civilization that humanize the people of the Middle East and South Asia-the poetry and art that are censored out of the media." Sells has been working for 15 years on a better way of presenting the Koran to the Western world, starting with the sections Muslims learn first. These come at the end of the Koran and give a sense of basic doctrines about the meaning of life and justice that can be grasped universally. Sells' 1999 book, Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations (1999) includes new translations with facing commentaries; two essays on sound, gender, and meaning; and a CD with Qur'anic reciters.

"But knowing Islam will explain nothing about bin Laden and the Taliban," Sells added.

Professor of Psychology Clark McCauley, who studies group dynamics, the social psychology of terrorism, and stereotyping, argued that although the human tendency to see differences between groups of people is strong and atavistic, we should resist giving in to understanding the current conflict in cultural or religious terms, which is "exactly what the terrorists want us to do."

Imke Meyer, Assistant Professor of German, and Martin Hébert, Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and Anthropology at Haverford, analyzed the role of language and rhetoric in political and military mobilization. Language acquires history through the ages and political events, Meyer said, so that "You can't use the word 'crusade,' with its reference to Christian military expeditions to take the Holy Land from the Muslims in the 11th-13th centuries, and then say that this is a war against speci fic perpetrators, not Muslims. ... The use of the term 'evildoers,' on the other hand, is a 'cop-out' suggesting that the attacks have no historical context. "The use of highly aggressive terms suggesting a revenge that lies outside of the realm of law, the vocabulary of frontier justicesuch as 'smoke them out, hunt down these folks, dead or alive' undermines any distinction you had previously intended to draw between yourself and the attackers," Meyer said.

Hébert noted that while public discourse moved from an initial call for massive retaliation toward a more democratic response, the "primary effect," or first interpretation of a phenomenon, tends to stick. The ritualized structure of turning to the media, who turn to the father figure of government, for an answer to the question, "What should we think?" is understandable in psychoanalytic terms, as is the initial framing itself of the attacks as "war," rather thanas "crimes," which suggest a domestic sourc e of violence rather than an external one.

At the end of the teach-in, Vickers commented,"The real challenge for academic communities is going to be moving this quality of thought and exchange into the broader population, because I think we're going to find subtle approaches to complex issues problematically marginalized within the mainstream."

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