Judith Brodsky and Ferris Olin Present at Appalachian
December 5, 2019
With sponsorship from the Honors College, Prof. Judith Brodsky and Dr. Ferris Olin, distinguished professors emerita at Rutgers University, presented a series of programs to Honors students and the public in November. The programs focused around the publication of their recent book, Junctures in Women’s Leadership: The Arts (Rutgers University Press, 2018).
Prof. Brodsky and Dr. Olin are perhaps best described as “arts and humanities scholars,” but like many Honors students, their interests span diverse fields, and their dynamic career paths reflect this. Both are widely published authors, important curators, and university educators and administrators. Prof. Brodsky is a printmaker and past president of the College Arts Association; Dr. Olin is a librarian, archivist, and art historian. Both have been involved with many feminist leadership and women’s history initiatives, including the Women’s Caucus for Art and The Feminist Art Project. Together, their Curriculum Vitae total over 80 pages. They serve as powerful role models for all students invested in inclusive leadership and community-minded career paths.
Their book profiles diverse female leaders in music, theater, dance, visual arts, and the museum world, and fills a significant gap in the scholarship on women and leadership. As Prof. Brodsky has noted, “there are virtually no case studies of women leaders. Harvard Business School, the primary publisher of case studies on leadership, has published thousands of studies on men, and almost none on women. This series, while aimed at the general public, is also intended to fill that gap and provide meaningful biographies of women to inspire students to take on leadership.”
The programs presented by Prof. Brodsky and Dr. Olin during their trip to Western North Carolina were developed with this very concern in mind: addressing the underrepresentation of women leaders in the arts. They delivered a well-attended public lecture at the Student Union on this theme, met with women and nonbinary arts and community leaders at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum for a discussion over coffee and scones, and engaged in a roundtable with interested students at Belk Library, including Honors students from all disciplines. Students who attended the roundtable were given a copy of the book and were able to learn from Prof. Brodsky and Dr. Olin’s long careers in the arts and humanities.
In addition to the activities they lead, Prof. Brodsky and Dr. Olin were treated to a number of special events during their visit, including tours of the Special Collections at Belk Library and Information Commons, the student art collections in the Student Union, current exhibitions at the Smith Gallery and Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, and a curator tour of the exhibition Modern Visions, Modern Art: The Cone Sisters in North Carolina at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum.
Shauna Caldwell, an Honors graduate now working as the Assistant Director of Arts Education and Outreach at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts and pursuing her Master’s in Appalachian Studies, wrote of her time with Prof. Brodsky and Dr. Olin:
“Meeting Judith Brodsky and Ferris Olin, both artists and scholars whose work I deeply respect, was an absolute honor. Their willingness to share their experiences as well as to learn from the community they were visiting was truly inspiring. As an Honors student in the Art Department, I completed a thesis which took the form of a photo project and book which was eventually purchased by the W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection in Belk Library. Judy and Ferris took the time to look at my book while on a tour of the collection. That gracious act, alongside their thoughtful comments and questions, is not something I will soon forget. As a young woman working in the arts, there is much I can learn from both Judy and Ferris. Their visit left me feeling inspired and hopeful for not only my future but for the future of women leaders in the arts everywhere.”
Prof. Brodsky and Dr. Olin’s visit to campus was facilitated by Prof. Jody Servon, Sharpe Chair of Fine and Applied Arts, and Dr. Heather Waldroup, Associate Director of the Honors College. In addition to the Honors College, funding for their visit was provided by the Humanities Council, the University Forum Committee, the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Art, the Program in Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies, the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership, Belk Library and Information Commons, the Smith Gallery, the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, and the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum.