Needless to say, 2020 has been a year like no other, and it’s marked everything we did at Artstor. We tried to help institutions and students meet the challenges of remote teaching, released new content — with a strong emphasis on freely accessible Open Artstor collections — and tried to brighten things up on our blog. Here are some of our highlights from a very difficult year and one thing we look forward to next year.
September 15 to October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S. While the name might currently be the focus of some debate, we welcome the reminder to explore and celebrate the vibrant cultures of Mexico, Central and South America, and the Hispanic Caribbean. The Artstor Digital Library offers many collections that specialize in or are substantially devoted to Latin American topics; here is a selection to get you started.
Not surprisingly, Artstor is strong in collections concentrating on the arts of Latin America, such as Jacqueline Barnitz: Modern Latin American Art (University of Texas at Austin), which features modern art from Mexico and ten other Caribbean, Central, and South American countries; and Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, including colonial, modern, and contemporary Latin American art.
By now you know that Artstor’s Public Collections provide approximately 1.3 million freely accessible images and other materials from library special collections, faculty research, and institutional history materials. The collections are constantly growing, and as we browsed for Latin American content in preparation for Hispanic Heritage Month, we were delighted by what we found. Here are some notable highlights:
Wofford College: The Lindsay Webster Collection of Cuban Posters
The collection features approximately 350 works created in Cuba from the revolution through the 2000s. Many of the posters focus on Cuba’s efforts to spread messages of the revolution worldwide and to inspire others in the fight against oppression stemming from the legacies of imperialism and colonialism, as well as posters focused on promoting Cuban national pride, conservation, production, and culture.
Dartmouth: Ediciones Vigia Collection
In 1985, a Cuban poet Alfredo Zaldivar and an artist Rolando Estevez established a literary forum for a group of Cuban artists in Matanzas, Cuba and called it Ediciones Vigía. For over twenty years now the goal for these artists has been to create beautiful handmade books. Through all of the social and political shifts, and even a severe paper shortage, the artists have found ways to create works of enormous artistry, imagination, and creativity by using found and recycled materials.
When tasked with explaining my cultural heritage I feel a mixture of excitement and trepidation; the term “Hispanic” captures such a wide spectrum of people and cultures. Plus, in a year of high racial tensions and unrest I worry that I am not being sensitive or inclusive to all my brown and black brothers and sisters.
Over the years, educators, librarians, and researchers at all levels, from secondary schools to graduate programs, have shared with us how they use Artstor in their teaching and research. We’ve gathered some of our favorites here, touching on topics as varied as medicine, ethnic studies, women’s studies, and more.
Would you like to share how you use Artstor? Leave a comment and we’ll follow up!
Washington’s secret city: cultural capital
Amber N. Wiley, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Architecture, Tulane University
Race, identity, and experience in American art
Dr. Jennifer Zarro, Tyler School of Art, Temple University
The Artstor Digital Library is used by educators in 1,900 institutions around the world–and with good reason. Here are just ten ways you can enhance your teaching with Artstor:
1. Take advantage of a wealth of images and primary sources to enhance most subjects.
2. Use with confidence: all images are rights cleared for education and research (and beyond in some cases!).
3. Make and share image groups for assignments and home study.
In this time of social distancing, it seems like everyone has turned to videoconferencing, from your teachers to your family. But perhaps you don’t want your grandparents to compare the size of your Brooklyn apartment to that of your cousin in Texas, or for your colleagues to see the dishes piling up in your kitchen sink. Open Artstor has you covered! We’ve selected a dozen artistic backgrounds to have you looking your best, including masterpieces by Van Gogh and Monet–download them for free at artstor.org/zoom.
The Open Artstor: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Collection is now available, featuring a selection of more than 45,000 images under Creative Commons licenses. This is part of a new, free initiative to aggregate open museum, library, and archive collections across disciplines on the Artstor platform — already a destination for scholars using visual media.
The end of the decade marks the beginning of our open access era
In 2019 we kicked off our Open Artstor initiative and began aggregating cross-disciplinary museum, library, and archive collections and making them available to all via Creative Commons licenses. We capped the year with the publication of three expansive and diverse collections.
During the nineteenth century the painting genre of the operating theater emerged — an arresting hybrid of fine art and the art of medicine. Highly specialized and hotly debated, its celebrated champion was the American artist Thomas Eakins, both appreciated and condemned for the realism which he brought most notably to his medical paintings. The Gross Clinic, 1875, and The Agnew Clinic, 1889, are his most monumental canvases among about 25 that feature medical practitioners. With an infusion of related imagery from two recently published collections Open Artstor: Wellcome Collection and Open Artstor: Science Museum Group, we may now probe these powerful and disquieting works with clinical precision.
The Gross Clinic depicts Dr. Samuel D. Gross, characterized as the “emperor of American surgery,” in his element at center stage directing his assistants who perform an operation on a patient’s thigh while he also addresses his students. A woman recoils at left, the only discordant note to his authority. The setting is Philadelphia’s Jefferson Medical College, where the artist himself began to study medicine before choosing a future in art. On a canvas measuring about 8 x 6 feet, the figures approach life size.