BHSU Geek Speak lecture to look at baroque, contemporary artwork

Author: BHSU Communications/Thursday, January 7, 2016/Categories: 2016

Ann Porter

The Black Hills State University Geek Speak lecture series returns for the spring 2016 semester with a presentation on the creation and transformation of contemporary art.

Ann Porter, professor of art at BHSU, opens up the spring semester Geek Speak with "Stuffies, Sex and the Contemporary Counter-Reformation." The presentation is Thursday, at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall, room 110. The event is free and open to the public.

The BHSU Geek Speak series is academic lectures and discussions and is sponsored by the University Honors Program. These informal lectures are designed to foster a broader intellectual community, one where we can find our fellow "geeks:" those individuals who share common interests and a similar dedication to lifelong learning.  The lectures are designed to expose us to diverse perspectives and ideas and encourage audience participation and dialogue.

"I am thrilled that the Geek Speak lecture series continues to be such a success with both the campus and community," said Dr. Courtney Huse Wika, director of the University Honors Program and assistant professor of English at BHSU.

Porter's presentation will cover three parts. She will first showcase the artwork created from the Counter Reformation, or Catholic Revival, in the 16th and 17th centuries. During that time, the baroque period emerged, and with it brought a new respect and importance of art, Porter said.

"The Catholic Church commissioned artists to make gorgeous images," Porter said. "It slays me just how beautiful the artwork is. It's unbelievable."

Much of the baroque artwork included animals, Porter said, and artists who painted images of animals were known as animaliers. The second part of Porter's presentation will explain why animals were important in the baroque paintings and sculptures.

Porter also will compare and contrast the use of animals in artwork from the baroque era to the contemporary images today and how it defines what is going on in society.

"We see a lot of contemporary art not portraying animals in nature or as food, but we see animals as toys, which is where the 'stuffies' part of my presentation comes in," Porter said.

She used the Hello Kitty franchise as an example of the use of stuffed animals in artwork.

Porter uses animals in her own artwork, as well as throughout her art courses at BHSU. With her Geek Speak lecture, she wanted to share that passion, as well as show how animals have been used in artwork for centuries.

"Those who attend will see some incredibly beautiful artwork," Porter said. "Some of the images have strong narratives the artists have a story to tell. I want to show how these stories pertain not only to the contemporary art world, but to our daily lives."

Future Geek Speak topics include:
  • Jan. 21, "The Rise of Raunch Culture: An Open Discussion"
  • Jan. 28, "Public Speaking: Raising Hell," Dr. Adam Gaffey
  • Feb. 4, " 'I was Real Once,' sighed Mr. Holmes: #BelieveinSherlock #FightJohnWatsonsWar," Dr. Nikki Dragone
  • Feb. 11, "The Narcissistic Doctor? Leadership, Ethics, and Dr. Who," Dr. Jeffrey Wehrung
  • Feb. 18, " 'Preaching to the Nerves Instead of the Judgment': The Victorian Sensation Novel,'" Dr. Martin Fashbaugh
  • Feb. 25, "Biblically Speaking: Sin and the Role of Women in the Christian New Testament," Dr. Amy Fuqua
  • March 3, "Draw Something!" Desy Shoenewies
  • March 17, "Not Just a Cheesy Monster Movie: the Multiple Meanings of Godzilla," Dr. Tom Arnold
  • March 31, "On Hip Hop and Religion," Dr. Dan May
  • April 7, "Can Religion and Science Get Along? Sure, but should they?" Dr. Nate Deichert
  • April 14, "A Tour of Voting Systems: How Do We Choose a Winner?" Dr. Dan Swenson
  • April 21, "The Social Life of Meat," Dr. Trenton Ellis
  • April 28, The University Honors Program Capstone Defense
For more information, contact Dr. Courtney Huse Wika, director of the University Honors Program and assistant professor of English at 605-642-6918 or email

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