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SPORT:ART Debuts Jan. 26

Art, Sport, and Identity to Meet in Programs Across Campus 

Providence, R.I.--The Department of Art and Art History and the Department of Athletics are collaborating on a unique project that will examine the relationship between art and sport during a two-month series of exhibits, films, and lectures at Providence College.

SPORT:ART will launch on January 26 with a reception and artist’s talk at the Smith Center for the Arts that also will mark the preview for Gallery Night Providence, an annual city-wide celebration of the arts that will bring members of the local art community to the PC campus.

Those attending Gallery Night Providence will have the opportunity to view two SPORT:ART exhibits that will remain on display to the public through March 22. One, in the Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery, features photographs of student-athletes by students of Eric E. Sung, assistant professor of photography.

The other, Out at Home! The Negro Baseball League, is a collection of lithographs by Joe Norman, professor of drawing and painting at the University of Georgia.

Reaching across campus

The idea to explore the links among sport, art, and identity began with a conversation between Catherine Little Bert ’77, a College trustee and an art gallery owner in Providence, and two art history professors, Dr. Joan R. Branham, department chair, and Dr. Deborah J. Johnson.

Bert was inspired by The Sports Show, an exhibit examining the role that the visual media plays in promoting sports, developed by her brother, David E. Little, an art historian and curator in Minneapolis. As part of SPORT:ART, Little will lecture at the College on February 23 and present a career services program for students, “A Career in the Museum World,” on February 24.

“It occurred to me how many of our art students were athletes, and about cognition studies I’d read citing hand-eye coordination as the link between them,” Johnson said.

“We wanted to reach across campus,” said Branham. “What do art and athletics have to say to each other?” 

They brought their ideas to Robert G. Driscoll Jr., associate vice president for athletics and athletics director. The project examining the intersection of art and athletics grew into an unprecedented collaboration among campus departments, involving black studies, biology, history, women’s studies, the Center for Teaching Excellence, the Balfour Office of Multicultural Activities, and the deans of the School of Arts & Sciences and the Office of Student Affairs, among others.

Mural, lectures and film series

Highlights of SPORT:ART will include:

• During Alumni & Family Weekend, February 10-12, guests will have the opportunity to paint an interactive mural created by Peter Tigler, an artist in Santa Monica, Calif., based on a photograph by Dominic Channon ’13 (Nelson, New Zealand), a student of Sung's who is also a member of the cross country and track and field teams. The mural depicts three PC cross country runners alongside athletes from ancient Greece.

• During Black History Month in February, in conjunction with the lithograph exhibit, filmmaker Byron Motley, the son of Bob Motley, a chief umpire in the Negro Baseball League, will deliver a lecture about the Negro league.

• During Women’s History Month in March, a film series, “Women in Sports,” will be included as part of several women’s studies classes to mark the 40th anniversary of Title IX and women’s athletics at PC. Films will include A Hero for Daisy, Whip It, A League of Their Own, and Girlfight. Guest speakers will include Lynnette Labinger, Title IX lawyer in Cohen vs. Brown University.

“As an art department, we are bringing to campus two major artists who will engage both our minds and our hands with art exhibitions and public painting projects, and two major speakers who will illuminate and frame these activities,” said Johnson. “But as an academic institution, we will raise consciousness about the links between art and sport, the formation of racial and gender identity through art and sport, and the place of athletics, on our campus and in the American imagination.”

For a full schedule of SPORT:ART events, visit


--Vicki-Ann Downing




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