The arts have held center stage at Humanities Texas this spring. An exciting national endeavor to engage students in American history through art received its Texas launch last week. Two of the state's leading art museums are displaying major exhibitions supported by Humanities Texas, while our own exhibition, Miguel Covarrubias: Caricaturista, is traveling to several venues in Italy. Finally, in the realm of the performing arts, a Humanities Texas-supported public radio documentary on American music history recently won a coveted Peabody Award.
National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Bruce Cole came to Texas last week to introduce the region to the Endowment's newest initiative, Picturing America. As Dr. Cole announced, this initiative will bring high-quality reproductions of significant paintings, photographs, and other works of art to the nation's classrooms so that students can visualize important chapters of America's past. The O'Donnell Foundation and National Humanities Medal recipient Robert M. Edsel, who presided at the Dallas rollout of Picturing America, are supporting the private fund-raising to make these educational resources available to Dallas-area schools and Head Start programs.
Humanities Texas grants supported two remarkable exhibitions that opened this spring. Miwa Yanagi: Deutsche Bank Collection, on display through May 4 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, features striking photographs by this young Japanese photographer. Humanities Texas provided support for "A Conversation about Feminine Beauty," a panel discussion in which scholars and curators addressed Miwa's exploration of gender, identity, and beauty in works such as Elevator Girls, a series of dreamlike portraits of the women who work as "elevator girls" in Japanese department stores.
The other exhibition, Intimate Modernism: Fort Worth Circle Artists in the 1940s, is on display at Fort Worth's Amon Carter Museum through May 11. This special exhibition features more than one hundred paintings, watercolors, and prints created by some of the first Texas artists to incorporate the techniques and approach of American modernism. Humanities Texas supported the development of the exhibition and its related educational programs.
Art-related exhibitions have been some of the most active in Humanities Texas's inventory of traveling exhibitions. Miguel Covarrubias: Caricaturista, developed in collaboration with the The University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Center, is scheduled to be displayed at the Istituto Italo-Latinoamericano (IILA) in Rome and the International Museum of Caricatures in Tolentino. Later this month, Working Hands: An Exhibition of Photographs by Rick Williams will be displayed at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. An arrangement with UT’s Center for American History has enabled Humanities Texas to circulate several of the Center's important photographic exhibitions. Behold the People: R. C. Hickman's Photographs of Black Dallas, 1949–1961 has been on display at the Montgomery County Central Library in Conroe since it was added to our inventory in February, and will be on display at both the Dallas Independent School District African American Heritage Center and the Irving Arts Center this fall. An exhibition of Russell Lee's poignant photographs will begin circulating in August.
Finally, we congratulate the Texas Heritage Music Foundation's executive director Kathleen Hudson and producer Lex Gillespie on the success of their public radio documentary on rockabilly music. Whole Lotta Shakin' was honored with a George Foster Peabody Award earlier this month. In 2006, Humanities Texas awarded the project its first grant, enabling Gillespie to begin production while continuing to seek additional support.