Janice Mann, Rebecca Reeve, Nicole Adams, and Ariel Senackerib (Bucknell University)
The Packwood House Museum in Lewisburg, PA houses the paintings and works of art collected by Edith Hedges Kelly Fetherston, an artistic women who fancied herself to be a less prominent version of Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner. Born in Lewisburg, PA in 1885 but living most of her life elsewhere, Fetherston returned to her birthplace with her husband John in 1936. Shortly, thereafter John and Edith decided to make their home into a museum for Edith’s paintings and the array of objects that they collected on their travels and at home. While the couple were alive, only friends were allowed to view the collection but after Edith’s death in 1976, the house became a museum open to the general public.
This summer three art history students–Nicole Adams, Rebecca Reeve and Ariel Senackerib–and I will examine Edith Fetherston’s paintings, letters, postcards, and the objects she collected using various digital tools. Nicole intends to create a digital tour in Slate that utilizes excerpts from Fetherston’s diaries and postcards in combination with selected objects from the collection to restore the collector’s voice to the objects and to reveal her curatorial decisions. Ariel’s project explores the “exotic” features of Fetherston’s paintings and their sources with the intent of revealing the artist’s attitude towards and understanding of Asia. Her essay on this subject will introduce a complete digital catalog of the paintings which she will create this summer. Finally, Rebecca will take on the daunting task of creating a digital archive of the personal papers and ephemera in the Packwood House archive. We anticipate that the archive will reveal much about the public and private lives of an upper class couple with artistic interests, who engaged deeply with the world outside of their small town. These projects, each valuable in its own right, will also survive my research project which will examine Edith Fetherston within the broader contexts of female collectors and artists, and the concept of the “artistic” woman in the early twentieth-century United States.
Janice Mann has been teaching in the Department of Art and Art History at Bucknell University since 1995. After receiving her Ph.D. from Columbia University, she came to Bucknell after teaching at Wayne State University in Detroit. For most of her career at Bucknell, she has taught classes in the art and architecture of the European Middle Ages and Islamic lands. More recently, she has begun teaching classes with a digital humanities inflection and community- based curriculum. Her book Romanesque Architecture and its sculptural Decoration in Christian Spain (1000-1120): Exploring Frontiers and Defining Identities was published by University of Toronto Press in 2009. It won the Eleanor Tufts Award for a distinguished book in English on the history of art and architecture in Iberia in 2011.
Rebecca Reeve, Ariel Senackerib, and Nicole Adams are all art history majors in the Department of Art & Art History at Bucknell University. Rebecca and Ariel are seniors and Nicole is a junior. All three students were involved in summer research at Packwood House, a small house museum founded by Edith Fetherston in Lewisburg, PA in 1976.