November 23, 2009   
Contact: Katrina Greene
Andrew W. Mellon Post-Baccalaureate Curatorial Fellow

AMHERST, Mass.—On Thursday, December 3, at 4:30 p.m. at Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum, Katrina Greene, Andrew W. Mellon Post-Baccalaureate Curatorial Fellow, will present a short talk on a print by Edgar Degas that was inspired by the work of Charles Darwin. The talk is one of several events commemorating the original publication of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection 150 years ago this November. It is free and open to the public.

Degas became familiar with Darwinian concepts after reading The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, released in French translation in 1874. Like Origin of Species, Expression had specific ramifications for the visual arts, prompting a reappraisal of man’s kinship to animals. Greene’s talk will be focused on “The Song of the Dog,” a lithograph of a cabaret singer performing a comic song.

Greene has taken an interdisciplinary approach to Degas’ art since revealing geometry in the artist’s early work as an undergraduate. “Katrina will uncover the science behind this masterful work,” said Elizabeth Barker, director of the Mead. “We look forward to hearing her insights.”

To mark the anniversary of The Origin of Species publication, events at two AmherstCollege museums will emphasize exchange. At the Museum of Natural History, a special installation of artifacts related to Darwin’s seminal works will be on view. The MeadArt Museum will feature a podcast of a Faculty Lunchtime Talk given by geology professor Tekla Harms about “Green River Wyoming” by Thomas Moran, a landscape painting of a significant archeological site located in the newly-explored American West. In her talk, Harms discusses the implications of Darwinian theory on the American landscape. 

Both institutions will also participate in a label exchange featuring the Moran painting. At the Mead, the label for the painting will be expanded by actual fossils excavated from the site, while the Natural History display will include a label written by Randall Griffey, curator of American art, discussing the excavation site as captured by the artist.

The MeadArt Museum houses the art collection of AmherstCollege, totaling more than 16,000 works. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. During the academic term, the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to midnight and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, please visit the museum’s Web site, www.amherst/museums/mead, or call 413/542-2335. 

Information about the Amherst College Museum of Natural History call be found here