Scholars@Hallwalls series begins Friday

Sep 18, 2014

The Scholars@Hallwalls lecture series begins this Friday with a talk provocatively entitled “Art, Sex and the Sixties.” Presenting the talk is UB Professor Jonathan Katz, who goes deep on a variety of issues, including politics and sexuality.

Professor Jonathan Katz heads the doctoral program in Visual Studies in the Department of Art at the University at Buffalo.
Credit photo from the University at Buffalo

"I think that where the deepest failing can be located is the idea that we have failed to articulate and convince people of the value of understanding an interwoven American fabric. We still think in terms of camps and interest groups," Professor Jonathan Katz said during an interview with WBFO News.

"Even the most progressive leaders seem to be unable to find a language to argue what all academics by and large now agree on, which is that poverty is not a function, for example, of an individual's actions, but a social and political fact produced by a profoundly unequal system, and we have the resources, technological and otherwise, to level the playing field. And we don't."

Katz, who heads the doctoral program in Visual Studies at UB's Art Department, will provide the first of a series of lectures planned for Scholars@Hallwalls. Future talks will look at wide variety of topics such as  Roman poetry, the planning of 18th Century Britain and the workings of Buffalo’s early African-American churches. In each case, audiences will be hearing the products of lengthy research conducted by scholars while on sabbatical as part of a program sponsored by UB’s Humanities Institute.

Katz also offers a scathing assessment of the changes in the art world over the last half-century.

"I think that the belief that art has a leading social role is very much, unfortunately, written in the past tense. What I see now, increasingly, is a close relationship between the art market and the museum world," Katz said.

"I see artists whose ambitions are written in numbers, not in social movements. That worries me. What we have, paradoxically, is a situation in which as increasingly astronomical sums of money have been achieved by works of art, the measure of quality is increasingly material, not social."

All lectures in the Scholars@Hallwalls series are free and open to the public.