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    MFAH Lecture: Curating Consciousness: Mysticism and the Modern Museum

    Presented by at Museum of Fine Arts - Audrey Jones Beck Building

    September 22, 2010

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    MFAH Lecture: Curating Consciousness: Mysticism and the Modern Museum

    The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston presents Curating Consciousness: Mysticism and the Modern Museum, Wednesday, Sep 22, 2010 at 6:00 PM at the Audrey Jones Beck Building, in the American General Conference Room. Presented by Dr. Marcia Brennan, (pictured)  Associate Professor of Art History, Rice University.

    James Johnson Sweeney, who served as Director of the MFAH from 1961 to 1968, repeatedly drew on motifs of mysticism in order to emphasize the capacity of aesthetics to express, and potentially induce, transformational and transcendent states of being. Dr. Marcia Brennan talks about her new book, Curating Consciousness: Mysticism and the Modern Museum published by MIT Press, in which she explores the various ways in which Sweeney and other key critics forged compelling connections between mysticism, contemporary art, and "primitive" artifacts in the sanctified space of the secular museum.

    Marcia Brennan’s research engages modern and contemporary art history; gender theory; mysticism and comparative religion; and the medical humanities. Prior to joining the Rice faculty in 2001, she taught at Brown University and the College of the Holy Cross. She is the author of Curating Consciousness: Mysticism and the Modern Museum (MIT Press, 2010); Flowering Light: Kabbalistic Mysticism and the Art of Elliot R. Wolfson (Rice University Press, 2009); Modernism’s Masculine Subjects: Matisse, The New York School, and Post-Painterly Abstraction (MIT Press, 2004); Painting Gender, Constructing Theory: The Alfred Stieglitz Circle and American Formalist Aesthetics (MIT Press, 2001, 2002); and she is the lead author of the Menil Collection’s twentieth-anniversary exhibition catalogue, A Modern Patronage: De Menil Gifts to American and European Museums (Yale, 2007). In addition to teaching courses in twentieth-century American and European art and Religious Studies, she is a Faculty Affiliate in the Program for the Study of Women and Gender.

    In addition to her work at Rice University, Marcia Brennan is an Artist In Residence in the Department of Palliative Medicine at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. During the 2008-2009 academic year, she chaired the Second Biennial Menil-Rice Lecture Series, Museums and the Medical Humanities: The Arts of Transformation, which was followed in February 2010 by the symposium Museums and the Medical Humanities: Our Continuing Conversation. During the fall of 2006 she co-chaired, with Jeffrey Kripal of the Department of Religious Studies, the interdisciplinary symposium Venturing Beyond the Beyond: On the Visual Imagination and Mystical Hermeneutics of Elliot R. Wolfson, through the Humanities Research Center.

    Recently, she is the recipient of grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Office of Research, Rice University, and Rice’s Humanities Research Center. In 2009 she was awarded the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching.

    Museum of Fine Arts - Audrey Jones Beck Building

    5601 Main Street
    Houston, TX 77005

    Full map and directions

    Admission Info:

    Admission is open to the public and free with general museum admission. Museum members always receive free admission.

    Museum Admission:
    $7.00 adults
    $3.50 seniors/children 5-18

    General Day and Time Info:

    6:00—8:00 p.m. (includes reception and book signing)

    Phone: 713-639-7300


    Free outdoor parking is available in the street-level lot directly across from the Law Building at 1001 Bissonnet Street.

    Parking is available in the MFAH Parking Garage for $6. The easy-to-find parking garage is located directly east of the Beck and Law buildings on Binz, and is marked by a large, yellow arrow.

    Accessibility Information: Currently, no accessibility information is available for this event.

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