Chilean poet and visual artist Cecilia Vicuña will be the featured speaker at the symposium “Oscillations of Gender and Genre” at Illinois State University. Vicuña will give a keynote performance/talk at 5 p.m. Thursday, November 10, at the University Galleries in Uptown Normal.

An image of Cecilia Vicuña from The Poetry Foundation.

An image of Cecilia Vicuña from The Poetry Foundation.

The author of more than 20 books of poetry, Vicuña exhibits and performs internationally, with works showing at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Her performance talk, “Reading the Reading (To Con Template Mistral),” will explore encounters with women’s art, including that of Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, that have shaped her own work. “Oscillations of Gender and Genre” will run from November 9-12, with all symposium events free and open to the public. The symposium has been planned to coincide with an exhibition at University Galleries titled Strange Oscillations and Vibrations of Sympathy. The exhibition runs from October 26 through December 18, 2016.

“This symposium is about women artists reading other women and having an intellectual conversation between them—this idea of women listening to each other across space,” said Illinois State’s Associate Professor of Languages, Literatures and Cultures Juliet Lynd, who organized the symposium with Associate Professor of Art History and Visual Culture Melissa Johnson, and whose research focuses on Vicuña.

The symposium includes talks by artists and scholars on topics ranging from feminism and art in Nigeria to Surrealism and photography in Germany to Latina poetry and art in Chicago, as well as a performance and lecture by Illinois State’s Kate Lewis, a professor of viola in the School of Music. She will perform pieces by composer Libby Larson, inspired by the paintings of Georgia O’Keefe and an 18th century poem. “There is a flow between disciplines—oscillations—between cultural pieces from all over the world,” said Johnson. A full symposium schedule is available here.

Dianna Frid, a Chicago-based multi-disciplinary artist whose artist book, The Waves, is included in the University Galleries exhibition, will wrap up the symposium at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, November 12, at Milner Library, leading a discussion with fellow presenters and artists. The public is invited to attend as well.

The inspiration for the title of the symposium and exhibit stem from Sylvia Plath’s reading of Virginia’s Woolf’s The Waves, a novel Johnson has been teaching in a course on the history of collage and montage since 2008. “Woolf’s novel is an incredibly visual text, and many contemporary artists have responded to it,” said Johnson, whose research also includes the German artist Hannah Höch, a Dadaist who, in addition making photo collages, also worked in needlework and handicrafts. “I’m interested in the cross-genre approach—a way the women artists who interest me often work.”

For additional information, contact Johnson at (309) 438-8170 or Lynd at (309) 438-7347.