OF GILL AND GUILDS
Dennis Doordan (professor of Architecture, Notre Dame University) has arrived at The Wolfsonian-FIU as our inaugural Wolfsonian Visiting Scholar, funded by a grant from Mellon. Dennis is actually a long-time associate and friend of the Wolfsonian, having worked with us even before our institution opened to the public, and having contributed an essay to the exhibition catalog that accompanied our inaugural exhibition in November of 1995.
During his semester-long residence at the museum, Professor Doordan will be co-teaching a course at Florida International University with Assistant Professor of Architecture David Rifkind. This graduate seminar, entitled “Material and Visual Studies of Modernity,” aims to introduce students to the resources available in the museum and research library and to research methodologies that various scholars have brought to bear on these resources. Professor Doordan will be focusing his attention on works in our collection by Eric Gill (1882-1940), an English exponent of the Arts & Crafts movement. Gill, a religious zealot with a rather suspect reputation for sexual “experimentation” (to put it delicately!), was also an advocate of economic and social reform, a prolific printer, typographer, illustrator, wood and metal carver, stone cutter and sculptor, and co-founder of The Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominic at Ditchling. The museum and library possess a strong collection of materials produced by Eric Gill, and at his private press and fine arts guild. One of the first library exhibits I put together focused on his work as well and can be viewed online.
Professor Doordan will be leading several sessions of the course and will also consult directly with students on campus and at the museum, as they work on research projects based on objects and artifacts from the museum’s collection. Doordan has also agreed to lead two meetings of our Working Group on Visual and Material Culture even as he pursues his own research focused on Gill and comparatively at some of the other English guilds represented in our collection.