New exhibition in Fenwick Gallery,“Conjuring Presence,” featuring Mason students, faculty, alumni

Fenwick Gallery at George Mason University is pleased to host “Conjuring Presence,” an exhibition of visual art and poetry featuring Mason students, faculty, and alumni. The exhibition will run in Fenwick Gallery and online from October 20 through December 11, with a literary reading on November 9 (register here) and an artists’ talk on November 15 (register here).

Curated by Mason faculty member and artist Jessica Kallista, “Conjuring Presence” asks both artists and audience to think critically and examine many manifestations of presence: What does it mean to become mindful of the presence of others? How does our presence become a catalyst for transformation and liberation? How might we work to conjure presence?

The artists and poets featured in “Conjuring Presence” were paired and asked to consider these questions throughout the collaborative process. In doing the work of considering, questioning, and challenging the status quo with radical honesty and presence of mind, together they embrace the power to envision, freedom dream, and co-create otherwise worlds into existence.

This exhibition is co-curated by Heather Green (Asst. Professor, School of Art) and Stephanie Grimm (Art and Art History Librarian and Fenwick Gallery Manager), with exhibit support from Chen Bi (Fenwick Gallery Graduate Assistant). Exhibition support is generously provided by the University Libraries, School of Art, and Creative Writing Program at Mason.

“Conjuring Presence” will be on display in Fenwick Gallery and online. Fenwick Gallery is located in Fenwick Library on Mason’s Fairfax campus. The gallery is open during Library business hours; see the Library’s website at http://library.gmu.edu for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

For more information on this exhibition at Fenwick Gallery, contact Stephanie Grimm, Art and Art History Librarian, at sgrimm4@gmu.edu.

New exhibition on the Cold War in American Culture

Looking Over Our Shoulder: The Cold War in American Culture is now on view in the Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) exhibition space. A corresponding digital exhibit is also available online.

High School students practice “duck and cover” technique. Oliver F. Atkins photograph collection, C0036, Box 54, Folder 118, Special Collections Research Center.

In Looking Over Our Shoulder, members of the SCRC team have selected examples from the Libraries’ special collections that illustrate aspects of American life during the Cold War from a variety of angles, through manuscripts, photographs, publications, material culture, and other items. From concerns about the spread of Communism, the threat of atomic warfare, and the Space Race to architecture, fashion, art, film, theatre, novels, and even home décor, the exhibit demonstrates the pervasiveness of the Cold War era on every aspect of American life.

With each exhibit curated by SCRC, Bob Vay (technology and exhibitions archivist) tries to link the history to the lived experience here at Mason. For Looking Over Our Shoulder, he curated a case focused on “The Cold War as A Source of Dissent at George Mason College/University” and highlighted some of the protests in the 1960s. In addition to his work in creating the corresponding digital exhibit, Vay will be sharing a series of blog posts about the current exhibition on the Special Collections Research Center blog. His introduction to the exhibit is available here, and his exploration of “The Ever Present Fear of Atomic Attack & Atomic Energy” is available here.

On Tuesday, November 16, 2021, SCRC will be partnering with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at George Mason University (Mason OLLI) to host “The Iron Curtain,” a virtual event where Professor Samuel Clowes Huneke will moderate a panel of select OLLI members regarding the history of the Iron Curtain and their individual experiences. This event is made possible by an OLLI Mason Special Project Grant awarded to the Libraries. The discussion will be recorded and added to SCRC’s Oral History Program collection.

SCRC collections are available for use by students, faculty, researchers, and others for research or instructional use. In addition to the items featured in the current exhibit, SCRC holds other related collections to the Cold War as well as many other subject areas. For more information SCRC and their collecting areas, visit their collections site.

New, Expanded Access to Cambridge University Press Ebooks

The Libraries now provides access to around 12,000 Cambridge University Press ebooks published from 2015 to the present. You can find these books by browsing on the Cambridge Core platform or via the Mason Libraries search bar. You can also download this PDF with embedded links to subject area collections – just click on the icon of the subject you are interested in exploring.

Cambridge ebooks are ideal for students’ studies and for faculty’s course reading lists. Just provide the link to a book or chapter in Blackboard, and students will be able to read online or download the book without any restrictions (DRM free).

After years of flat or falling budgets combined with inflation and rising subscription costs, the Libraries has turned to new and innovative ways of providing access to resources for our community. In this case, the Libraries’ payment to Cambridge University Press not only provides access to more ebooks than we would normally purchase, but also serves as a deposit. After 12 months of ebook access, we will use that deposit to buy a selection of Cambridge ebooks for permanent addition to the collection. We ultimately own fewer books, but the Mason community enjoys immediate access to a much larger collection.

The Libraries provides access to many other DRM-free ebooks via JSTOR, Wiley, Taylor & Francis, and specialized collections such as our Springer ebooks. Ask your subject librarian how to identify library ebooks for your studies or courses.

Archives Month 2021: Activism + Archives

By Amanda Brent, Processing Coordinator, Special Collections Research Center

It hardly needs to be said, but 2020 and 2021 have been landmark years for the United States, and the world at large. Not only did 2020 bring a global pandemic, it also brought forth focused attention on racism, bigotry, and institutional inequality like never before. This led to a groundswell of activism and a fight for intrinsic human rights – particularly those of BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) communities – that the U.S. has not seen since the 20th century. The activism of thousands of Americans, both past and present, inspired this year’s Virginia Archives Month theme – Activism and Archives.

Marchers, many carrying signs, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963. Oliver F. Atkins photograph collection, C0036, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

How do archives intersect with activism? Well, not only do archives provide documentation of activists, activism, social movements, and social injustices through the decades, archives and archival collections are also used as tools in modern activism. Examples include: bringing a modern lens to past injustices, gathering information to support modern causes and research, and providing information and documentation to assist with reparations. We’ve included links to projects and news where archives supported these kinds of inspiring and necessary projects.

This year, we welcome you to explore records from Virginia repositories highlighting activism of the past and present on our Flickr page. Free coloring pages can be used in the classroom, both in person or virtually, to teach about activism and protest. We’ve also created some downloadable postcards for you to print off and send to your representatives so you can advocate for the causes you’re passionate about. (Post cards are also available in SCRC on the second floor of Fenwick Library!)

As always, we also have links to archival information and events happening during October. We hope you’ll find some benefit to these resources and share them with colleagues, friends, and family. All of this can be found at https://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/archivesmonth/2021/