January 13, 2010

Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities Will Show Frederick Lewis' Documentary on Artist Rockwell Kent


Frederick Lewis—producer, director and writer—has traveled to the ends of the world retracing the life adventures and travels of American landscape artist Rockwell Kent for his three-hour documentary.

Case Western Reserve University's Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities invites the public to view "Rockwell Kent" and hear Lewis answer questions about his experience creating the film. The free, public event begins at 6 p.m. Thursday, January 28, in 306 Clark Hall.

Lewis will talk about what he describes as an "absolutely a life-changing experience."

"Kent crammed six or seven lifetimes into one," Lewis said.

A prolific painter and illustrator, Rockwell Kent is best known for capturing on canvas some of the earth's remote and harsh landscape environments. During the 1930s and 40s, Kent shared the popularity of other artists, like Edward Hopper and Norman Rockwell, but has faded into the background of the American art scene.

The Rockwell Kent showing continues the Baker-Nord Center's yearlong exploration of theme, Cultures of Green: Nature and the Environment—a look at humanities' role in portraying and understanding nature.

For more than a decade, Lewis, associate professor in the School of Media Arts and Studies at Ohio University, captured images and often stayed at the same sites where Kent created his nature paintings in such faraway places as Greenland, Newfoundland, Alaska, Ireland and Russia.

The inspiration for this film came from Lewis' first encounter with Kent's work while spending time in Maine.

Lewis said he was drawn to Kent's early landscapes of Monhegan Island, Maine, and also his incredible wood engravings that he created to illustrate such classics as Moby Dick, Candide and The Canterbury Tales.

The producer initially set out to do a piece on Rockwell Kent as a regional artist, but now admits he was "naïve" about the artist's life. The artist became a target of McCarthyism and later sued the U.S. government and won a landmark court case that allows U.S. citizens to travel to countries regardless of their political affiliations.

"It was just the tip of the iceberg story—literally since I also found myself in a helicopter shooting video of icebergs in Greenland," Lewis said. "It became a true obsession to travel to all of the far flung places Kent visited."

With visual history of Kent's private and politically charged public life, Lewis hopes to revive interest in Kent, hailed by CWRU art historian Henry Adams as a "Leonardo da Vinci figure," who could do many things.

Lewis has worked in producing films for more than 25 years. His work has aired on PBS stations across the country and has been shown at universities and museums, including the National Gallery of Art.

For information, visit http://case.edu/humanities or call 216-368-8961.

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, January 13, 2010 12:28 PM | News Topics: College of Arts and Sciences, Conferences/Symposia, Events, features

Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.