Intellectual Profile- James Stahl

1. I am a senior Anthropology major and most of my Anthropology coursework has focused on Cultural Anthropology. Outside of that department I have taken a number of Art History classes, including those on Roman Art and Architecture, American art, Renaissance art and World art. I also enjoyed classes in Russian studies and Religious studies.

2. Over the break, I visited a particularly visually and intellectually challenging exhibition, called Dark Christmas, at the Leo Koenig, Inc. gallery in Chelsea, NYC. It featured, among others, Paul McCarthy, Gerhard Richter, and Andres Serrano. The subject matter and imagery was intense and mature in nature, naturally, as the artists had often engaged frankly and personally with themes of sexuality, violence, and the divine, sometimes simultaneously.

3. I recently read The Universe in a Single Atom, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I started the book in a class, and was not required to read all of it, but because it was intriguing and surprisingly accessible, I continued reading it. The book, as the complete title explains, is about the convergence of science and religion. The position of the book, and the Dalai Lama, is that science and religion need not be in conflict, or rather, that characterizing the two as in conflict is inaccurate and unhelpful. The book further explains that while strict reductionist, empirical thought has dominated, this is a narrow approach to the world, and ultimately falls short of deeper understanding.

4. My main interests, besides art, are film, music, and skiing.

5. I do not typically read blogs. I visit the New York Times website from time to time, I especially like Bill Cunningham’s feature in the Style section.

6. I was impressed both with the art I recently encountered when visiting about a dozen galleries in Chelsea and with the new Clyfford Still Museum in Denver. It was fascinating and offered some insight, to one week see very current trends in contemporary art, although some were older works, and the next week some of the precedents of that art. Denver is very lucky, and the space is very exciting.

7. I missed the President’s State of the Union address last night, so I searched on NY Times to see reactions. I found this article, which was at times critical and at times realistic about the address. I am not very interested in politics, but can’t help but wonder what is going on with this election.

8. While taking a Religious Studies class called Religious Experience and the Human Dimension, with Professor Loriliai Biernacki, I was exposed to many ideas that widened my perspective and forced me to think deeply. Most intriguing was that scientific reductionism has dominated Western thought since basically the 16th century, and because of this, whole areas of thought are not taken seriously. Basically, if it cannot be analyzed with mathematics, or science, then it is rejected wholesale. This is a very limited world view and could ultimately be detrimental to the academy and to human kind.

9. I visit the DAM and Denver MCA with sporadic frequency. My last visit to the Denver MCA there was an exhibition called Orphan Paintings, featuring 150 paintings by unknown artists from the Russian Avant-Garde. These were very compelling artworks and it was even more fascinating because their origins were unknown. In a time and place where contemporary artists are sometimes millionaire celebrities, it was refreshing to see a large body of work for which the artist was wholly unidentifiable. The lack of authorship truly allowed the paintings to take on ghost-like quality, perhaps they were painted by no one— a spirit.

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