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Gallaudet, National Gallery of Art team up to celebrate works of deaf Dutch artist

March 29, 2010
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A pilot program developed with the National Gallery of Art and several Gallaudet units celebrates the work of Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634), a deaf Dutch artist of the “Golden Age,” so called for the prolific amount of art produced in the Netherlands in the 17th century.

“Hendrick Avercamp: The Little Ice Age” is on exhibit in the National Gallery of Art, West Building, Dutch Cabinet Galleries through July 5. Lectures and programs associated with the exhibition are interpreted and special outreach to the deaf community is being conducted. In addition, six Gallaudet students and Tabitha Jacques, an alumna of Gallaudet’s art history program, are offering guided ASL tours each Thursday at 1 p.m., beginning April 1. Gallaudet will provide special shuttle service from campus.

“Gallaudet University is delighted to partner with the National Gallery of Art for this stellar exhibition of the work of Hendrick Avercamp,” President Hurwitz said of the pilot program. “It is fitting that student guides bring a ‘deaf lens’ to tours of his paintings.  This collaboration is an example of the many opportunities Gallaudet students gain from the rich resources of our nation’s capital.”

The first exhibition devoted to Avercamp, an artist known to contemporaries as the “Stomme van Kampen” (Mute of Kampen), is made up of 14 paintings and 16 drawings  that bring to life the lively pastimes and day-to-day bustle of the Golden Age. Avercamp’s works reveal a tremendous diversity of subjects. They range from the hardships of winter, such as beggars trying to survive in the cold and women doing laundry in freezing water, to the more delightful possibilities of the cold: finely dressed couples on ice skates swooping and whirling across frozen canals and waterways, gentlemen playing colf (a game combining aspects of golf and hockey), children throwing snowballs and skating, with sleds swishing past. Within these winter scenes lies a record of daily life unencumbered by status-as all classes formed one community on the ice.

A selection of 17th-century Dutch ice skates will also be on view. The exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, where it was on view from November 20 through February 15.

Avercamp had a sharp eye for visual anecdote and-although he painted in a style that reflected the 16th-century pictorial traditions of winter scenes by Pieter Bruegel the Elder- his cast of characters and their activities became the primary focus of his work. Avercamp was the first artist to specialize in winter landscapes that feature people enjoying themselves on the ice, thus making the “ice scene” a genre in its own right.

 A special Gallaudet shuttle service will be offered on April 15 and 29 during “Common Time” so that the campus community can easily attend the ASL tours.  Shuttles will depart from the Kellogg Conference Hotel at 12:20 p.m. 

29 March 2010

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