Vermont Humanities

Culture Wars with Dona Ann McAdams and John Killacky

van Gogh Terasse des Cafes
First Wednesdays

In the 1990s, artists such as David Wojnarowicz, Karen Finley, and Ron Athey served as lightning rods for outrage over the appropriateness of their receiving support from the National Endowment for the Arts. In this video, photographer Dona Ann McAdams and curator John Killacky discuss the culture wars of this era and McAdams’ exhibition at the Helen Day Art Center, “Dona Ann McAdams: Performative Acts.”

Recent First Wednesdays Videos

Dancer with arms spread wide, wearing a striped leotard

A Life in Art and Activism

Artist, legislator, and former director of the Flynn Center in Burlington, John R. Killacky draws on commentaries from his book Because Art to relate his experiences as dancer in New York in the late 1970s and ’80s, the maelstrom of the culture Wars of the 1990s, and his work advocating for artists with disabilities.

Young man holding an American flag jumping between rocks in a river

Are “We the People” Up to the Task?

In the United States, all power is derived from the people. While this sounds noble in theory, can we expect the American public to have the wits and self-control to meet the demands of climate change? Constitutional scholar Meg Mott explores the paradox of self-governance when the natural foundations of life itself are changing.

From Little Jerusalem to the Lost Mural: Preserving Jewish and Immigrant Heritage

In 1885, a group of Lithuanian immigrants settled in Burlington’s Old North End, where they transplanted their religious traditions and culture. Archivists Aaron Goldberg and Jeff Potash describe the “Lost Mural,” a rare survivor of the lost genre of European painted synagogues, and tell the story of conserving the mural in Burlington.

Image of boat under green water with a rope tied around the bow

History in Hot Water: Climate Change and the Shipwrecks of Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain is home to hundreds of well-preserved shipwrecks that help tell the story of our region. But climate change is altering the lake’s underwater cultural heritage. Susan Evans McClure and Christopher Sabick from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum consider the impact of historical objects changing before our eyes.

Climate advocate Elizabeth Yeampierre

The Path to Climate Justice is Local

Puerto Rican climate justice leader Elizabeth Yeampierre has helped pass climate legislation at all levels, including New York’s progressive Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. In this talk she describes how intergenerational BIPOC activists are changing the landscape of national climate priorities by speaking up for themselves and their neighborhoods.

Young Black Muslim woman in a black head scarf

Thinking Race, Religion, and Gender: Muslim Women and Islamophobia

UVM professor Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst examines how race, religion, and gender affect the lives of Black Muslim women in the US. Exploring this diverse community helps illuminate how intersectionality functions, but also how one’s identity shapes religious practice and the experience of discrimination.

Woman in black and white photo touching her hair and looking down

Vermont Hairwork: Connecting Past and Present

19th century Americans often saved or exchanged locks of hair, constructing jewelry or keepsake wreaths of their kinship networks. In more recent decades, hair has become a powerful political medium. Middlebury professor Ellery Foutch shares the research about hair-based works in local collections and explores the meanings of hair in American culture, past and present.

Middle-aged man in World War Two uniform with helmet

War Reenactors: Who Gets to Tell History?

Artist Ed Gendron shares and discusses images from his photo project about World War II reenactors in the United States. Gendron later produced Playing Soldier, a feature-length documentary on the same topic. “The re-enactors assert that ‘history is a personal thing,’ says Gendron. “And for them, it may be quite true.”

Thanksgiving turkey on table with other traditional holiday foods

Why We Eat What We Eat at Thanksgiving

How did America’s most iconic food holiday come to include green bean casserole? What did the Wampanoag people and the Pilgrims really eat in 1621? Susan Evans McClure, executive director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, serves up the story of Thanksgiving foods and how they help us understand our American identity.

Vermont Humanities*** October 7, 2020