Education Faculty, Photo by Suzanne Silitch
WCMA Blog

Jenny Holzer will Deliver the Fulkerson Leadership in the Arts Lecture

Internationally known contemporary artist Jenny Holzer will deliver the Fulkerson Leadership in the Arts Lecture, Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 7:00 pm at the Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall on the Williams College campus. A reception from 8:30 to 9:30 pm will follow the lecture.

Renowned for her compelling use of language in public space, Holzer’s work has incorporated a wide array of media including bronze plaques, painted signs, stone benches, stickers, T-shirts, condoms, paintings, photographs, sound, video, light projection, the Internet and a Le Mans race car. Her first public works were created while participating in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The program included an extensive reading list incorporating Western and Eastern literature and philosophy. Holzer felt the writings could be simplified to phrases everyone could understand. She called these summaries Truisms (1977–79), which she printed anonymously in black italic script on white paper and pasted to building facades, signs, and telephone booths in lower Manhattan. The numerous one-line statements such as “Abuse of power comes as no surprise” and “There is a fine line between information and propaganda” elicited both verbal and written responses from people on the street. The medium of modern computer systems became an important component in Holzer’s work in 1982, when nine of her Truisms flashed at forty-second intervals on the giant 715_molecules_x345Spectacolor electronic signboard in Times Square. The use of the LED machine allowed Holzer to reach an immense and varied audience. Holzer has incorporated the use of text and the electronics associated with commercial signage to communicate her challenging messages. Her work progressed into installations using electronic LED displays. In 1990, she became the first female artist chosen to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale. For the Biennale, Holzer designed posters, hats, and t-shirts to be sold in the streets of Venice, while her LED signboards and marble benches occupied the austere exhibition space. Her words were translated into multiple languages in order to communicate to an international audience. The topics of Holzer’s messages have varied but always engage and provoke the viewer. Violence, oppression, sexuality, power, war and death are some of the subjects Holzer has addressed. In 1996, she started creating complex, large-scale xenon projections on buildings, mountains, rivers and assorted public sites.

Williams College is honored to have a public art installation by Jenny Holzer on its campus. 715 Molecules, a large-scale stone table and benches, covered on every surface with molecular diagrams, was dedicated in the spring of 2011.

Above image: Jenny Holzer (American, b. 1950), 715 molecules, 2011, sandblasted diorite table and benches. Gift of friends of J. Hodge Markgraf ’52, Ebenezer Fitch Professor of Chemistry (1930-2007), © Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. (M.2011.7) Photo © 2011 Roman Iwasiwka.

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