Faded Memories Symposium Series

Held in conjunction with the Faded Memories exhibition, this symposium offers a series of presentations and conversations exploring art and memory.

Faded Memories exhibition with artist Eric Dean Spruth

In the first session of the symposium, Faded Memories exhibition artist and art therapist Eric Dean Spruth discusses the works and themes in the exhibition, exploring the mortality of memory through hand-sculpted combustible objects containing documented, individualized recollections. Among the thought-provoking concepts grappled in the exhibition are issues around mental health, well-being, forgetfulness, memory loss, and the artificiality of constructed memory. Spruth will discuss among other things how we continuously reconstruct our memories as we access them, traveling through neural pathways and leaving bits of toxicity or joy behind, forever altering the memory each time. (August 14, 2021)

Art Therapy, Creativity, and the Brain with Deb Del Signore

The Faded Memories Symposium Series continues in this second session with School of the Art Institute of Chicago professor of art therapy Deb Del Signore discussing the healthful benefits of creative expression on the mind and body, including a focus on people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. (August 14, 2021)

Life-story Art in Later Life with Jon Kay

In the third and final installment of the Faded Memories Symposium Series, Jon Kay discusses the creation of narrative-driven works of art and how these objects support the artists as they age, exploring stories, memories, and self-identity in everyday life. Jon Kay is an associate professor of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University and the director of Traditional Arts Indiana at IU’s Cook Center for Public Arts and Humanities. (August 17, 2021)

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Egyptomania, the Early Years – Piranesi, Gerome, Desprez (93)

Louis Jean Desprez, Tomb with Sphinxes and an Owl, 1779-84

Louis Jean Desprez, Tomb with Sphinxes and an Owl, 1779-84

This short excerpt from my lecture on the art and history of the Egyptomania phenomenon delves into its early origins. As Europe emerged from the Middle Ages, Egyptian antiquities pillaged during the Roman Empire were excavated from their slumber under Roman soil and newly erected across the city. Even before the translation of the Rosetta Stone, before Napoleon’s epic Egyptian expedition and publication of Description de l’Égypte, artists such as Giovanni Battista Piranesi and Louis Jean Desprez were already experimenting and defining what we would come to call Egyptomania. In the subsequent generation, academic painter Jean Léon Gérôme reveals a mature appreciation for ancient Egyptomania in his meticulous renderings of the the Roman Empire.

One Ring to Rule Them All (92)

This extended episode takes us on an unexpected journey across the Art Institute of Chicago to explore the artistry and influences of rings. We go well beyond personal adornment and discuss the significance and many meanings of “ring” as it appears in visual culture.


Le Grenouillard (Frog-Man), 1892
Jean-Joseph Carriès
French, 1855–1894
Art Institute of Chicago, 2007.78

Lorraine O’Grady Resources

1. Lorraine O’Grady (American, born 1940), Miscegenated Family Album, 1980/94, Art Institute of Chicago, Through prior bequest of Marguerita S. Ritman, 2008.81.1-16.

2. Miscegenated Family Album, Alexander Gray Associates, press release, 10 Sep 2008.

3. Lorraine O’Grady (official website of the artist). http://www.lorraineogrady.com/

4. Nefertiti/Devonia Evangeline (official website)

5. Nefertiti/Devonia Evangeline at Oberlin, 1982

6. Miscegenated Family Album (official website)

7. “‘Miscegenated Family Album’ at Alexander Gray Associates (New York), September 10–November 11, 2008.” ARTINFO, 1 Nov 2008. Accessed 7/6/2009. http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/29166/lorraine-ogrady/

8. Cotter, Holland. “Lorraine O’Grady.” New York Times, 26 Sep 2008. Accessed 7/6/2009. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A0CE4DB103EF935A1575AC0A96E9C8B63

9. Allen, James P. “The Amarna Succession.” Accessed 7/6/2009. http://history.memphis.edu/murnane/Allen%20-%20Amarna%20Succession.pdf