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"The world needed John Brown and John Brown came, and time will do him justice." Frederick Douglass (1886)

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Monday, October 25, 2010

John Brown in the News

John Brown’s Connecticut Roots Discussed

The Haddam (Connecticut) Historical Society will host a program with historian Bill Hosley, who will present "John Brown: The Connecticut Roots of an American Legend," Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at the town hall, Field Park Drive.

John Brown (1800-1859) is the Connecticut native and American abolitionist whose fiery rhetoric and controversial activism helped blaze the trail that led to the Civil War. Although he was raised mostly in Ohio and achieved fame in Kansas, Brown's combination of evangelical fervor, Yankee ingenuity and marketing savvy, made him a convincing exponent of Connecticut values and identity.

This armchair tour of art, objects and historic sites associated with Brown will recall the drama and issues of his life by reviewing how his legacy has been interpreted, preserved and expressed in art, sculpture, poetry, material culture, music and in mythologized historic sites.

“Riddle of the Sphinx” Exhibit on John Brown at the University of Pennsylvania

Oct. 16 marked the 151st anniversary of abolitionist John Brown’s campaign on Harper’s Ferry.

On Oct. 22, the DuBois College House commemorated the historic date with a recital marking the opening of an art exhibit — Riddle of the Sphinx. The recital was directed by Terry Adkins, former faculty master of DuBois and current director of the house's Amistad Gallery.

Held in the Amistad Gallery, the opening recital consisted of a video element, an avant-garde music performance and an interactive piece featuring Brown’s writings. The exhibit itself, which opened Oct. 16, also featured several sculpture pieces created by Adkins specifically for the event.

Both the recital and the exhibit highlighted John Brown’s life as a soldier, prophet, shepherd and martyr.

“The whole thing is an ensemble that speaks together and works together,” Adkins said. “It’s hard for me to see individual pieces.”

Adkins’ goal is for visitors to feel “more informed and spiritually nourished” by the exhibit.

Around 40 visitors attended the event, including graduate students from Adkins’ sculpture seminar. Many were moved by the documents and art pieces on display.

“There’s a lot of narrative, a lot to digest,” junior School of Design graduate student Cristina Tufino said.

“Adkins “starts with historical materials and makes them contemporary,” senior School of Design graduate student Jessica Vaughn said.

Others felt the exhibit did a good job of educating visitors about Brown’s actions and the history of abolitionism.

“I think it provides another vantage point to discuss American racial issues, as well as American religious history,” faculty master Will Gibson said.

“I’m glad to see a show that helps view John Brown as a prophet,” 2010 College graduate Kyle LoPinto said.

Overall, Adkins was pleased with the turnout.

“I hope that [visitors] will take away a knowledge of who John Brown was, just what he means for America, and how his vision has played out,” he said.

The Riddle of the Sphinx will be open until Dec. 2, the date of Brown’s death.

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