Talking about the relationship between text and image is a daunting task. Think about all the different kinds of pairings of words and pictures that exist in our media-rich culture, be they in science textbooks, postcards, magazine articles, storybooks, or ads for toothpaste. What becomes clear, even considering this huge array of material, is that the textual element and the pictorial element do not simply relate, but they interact. This interaction is a dynamic force; the text and image act on each other in such a way that they leave a strong impression on the viewer, one that could not be produced with either medium on its own. When we shift focus to the realm of art, text and image function in a similar way.
The corpus of works of art that include both elements is vast and varied. This exhibition focuses on what we, as student curators, found to be the most compelling ways in which text and image produce meaning. The artworks shown in these galleries are divided into four groups: Illustration, Inspiration, Indignation, and Innovation. These categories are by no means fixed and indisputable, and while we ask you to consider the works of art in light of the relationships we have outlined, we also challenge you to think about where else they might fit, and why.
This exhibition is funded in part by a grant from the Cornell Council
for the Arts and a generous gift from Betsey and Alan Harris.
2005–2006 History of Art Majors’ Society
Julia Trafford Hahn