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What Fire Does: A Conference

April 19
Brown University, Providence, RI United States

Each year, the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society sponsors an interdisciplinary program under the title of “Earth, Itself,” designed to stimulate conversations and collaborations across the natural and social sciences, humanities and the arts. What Fire Does will be held primarily from April 18-28, 2017, and will focus on the productive, creative, destructive, and transformative powers of fire. The creative arts are the ‘fire arts’—particularly ceramics and glass—with exhibitions and performances conducted in collaboration with RISD (Rhode Island School of Design). The keynote speakers will be Stephen J. Pyne (Arizona State University) and Pamela H. Smith (Columbia University).

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10:30 am

Exhibition Tour—Picturing Math: Selections from the Department of Drawings and Prints

April 19, 10:30 am - 11:30 am
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10028 United States

This gallery tour allows visitors to explore the new exhibition Picturing Math: Selections from the Department of Drawings and Prints. The visualization of mathematics has taken many forms since the advent of printing. Animated by tensions between the abstract and the figural, the geometric and the gestural, these works from The Met collection show how artists from the 15th century to contemporary times have engaged in the creation and communication of mathematical knowledge through the use and production of images. To learn more about the exhibition and view selected images, visit the Met's website.

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1:15 pm

Pamela Smith – Keynote Address: Fire and Transformation in Early Modern European Art and Alchemy

April 19, 1:15 pm - 2:15 pm
Metcalf Auditorium, Chace Center (Brown University), 20 North Main Street
Providence, RI United States

Earth, Water, Air, and Fire were conceptual building blocks in early modern European views of nature, and, at the same time, fire was an everyday agent of transformation in all realms of early modern life, from quotidian charcoal making and other forms of utilitarian knowledge about fire and fuel, to metalworking practices, to the language of alchemical allegory. The lecture will survey these areas and focus in on the mental world of metalworkers whose work with fire involved a material network of transformative substances, including red pigments, blood, gold, and lizards. Introduction will be given by Lenore Manderson; the Chairperson is Rachel Berwick (Glass, RISD).

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