Give and Take
by Nancy H. Ramage
Collaboration and cooperation between Ithaca College and Cornell are alive and well among art historians. IC's cultural and academic assets -- not to mention its views of Cayuga Lake -- are spectacular, but we are fortunate to have Cornell close by on the other hill. The university offers endless resources that we can tap, and my art history colleagues and I have enthusiastically done so.
Whether for courses in sculpture or antiquities, I frequently take my students to Cornell's Herbert F. Johnson Museum. Last fall, for instance, students in my Sculpture at First Hand class and I made numerous field trips to Cornell to study the outdoor sculptures as well as museum pieces. The Johnson's director, Franklin Robinson, and his staff are exceptionally welcoming, even allowing us special parking privileges. What a pleasure to sit in the café in the entrance lobby of the museum, drinking coffee and studying the William Zorach sculpture Conflict, or Cain and Abel. It represents a victor and a victim in an apparently slow-moving, rather abstracted fight. Zorach was a close friend of my parents and had actually done a sculpture of my mother's head before I was born. I share this with my students -- as well as many other personal stories about him and his wife, the distinguished artist Marguerite Zorach.
The benefits of having Cornell as a neighbor extend beyond the Johnson Museum. The Admissions Office for Arts and Sciences at Cornell is kind enough to allow me to bring my students from Arts of Antiquity on a Saturday (when the office is closed) to view the colossal plaster casts made from the original marble sculpture that was on the Temple of Zeus at Olympia.
My IC faculty colleagues also have good working relationships on the East Hill campus. Christine O'Malley recently took her Italian Renaissance students to view Italian panel paintings on loan to Cornell from Yale. With the collaboration of a colleague from the Johnson Museum, Jennifer Jolly has shown her students studying pre-Columbian art some objects that were pulled from the museum's storage. Nancy Brcak regularly takes her students from Introduction to Japanese Culture to view pieces in the museum; Cheryl Kramer takes her Museology class on tours of the registrar's office and the paper conservation lab at the Library Annex.
My colleagues and I encourage our advanced students to use Cornell's libraries and to attend its lectures and other public events. Many of us have also supervised internships at the Johnson Museum, where IC students assist in such areas as the education department and the print room. Such opportunities provide excellent training and experience for students wishing to go on to gallery or museum work and related fields.
My IC colleagues and I don't just take from Cornell's coffer; we give back when we can. We have invited Cornell professors to give lectures on our campus, and some of us have given lectures on theirs. Cheryl Kramer, who is also director of IC's Handwerker Gallery, is curating an exhibit this fall that will feature the work of Cornell professor Gregory Page.
I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to write part of a catalog for the Johnson Museum called A Guide to the Classical Collections of Cornell University; the other authors were my husband, Andrew Ramage, and Peter Kuniholm, both of whom teach at the university. My husband and I also recently curated an exhibit, Ancient Art and Its Afterlife, for the museum. In addition to assembling objects from a local private collection, museum storage, and the Kroch Rare Book Library at Cornell, I wrote the accompanying text for the illustrated gallery guide. Together with my husband, I have also advised the Johnson not only on its collections, but also on its acquisition of objects.
The list goes on, but the bottom line is that Cornell and Ithaca College offer students and professors an outstanding opportunity to share and collaborate in both teaching and research, in a partnership that enriches us all.