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Fulbright Scholar takes road less traveled

Kelsie Clifton, Features Writer and Columnist

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The University of Texas of the Permian Basin’s Art discipline will host Fulbright scholar, Dr. Jennifer Goff. Her area of expertise is the twentieth century Irish designer/architect, Eileen Gray (1878-1976). The subject of her presentation at both UTPB and the Museum of the Southwest will be Goff’s book, Eileen Gray: Her Work and Her World.

Goff serves as Curator of Decorative Art and Modern Design at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin and is in residence at the New York School of Interior Design although she serves as Curator of Decorative Art and Modern Design at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

Goff’s major was in Fine Arts from the University College Dublin. She went to UCD with every intention of studying English and then going on to do a post-doctoral degree in journalism. She wanted to be a journalist but very quickly fell in love with the history of art and French. After a summer in Paris, she then did her Masters on the American painter Norman Rockwell, another one of her favorite artists. However, she did face some trials along the journey.

 

“You will notice that my Ph.D. took a while to complete. That is because my dear sweet husband became very ill and died during the entire process. So for students who face any type of emotional adversity whilst doing a degree – it is always possible to finish what you started,” Goff stated.

 

“I was lucky in that I told the department and they backed me every step of my journey. I didn’t think I could do it but I did.  My book ‘Eileen Gray: Her Work and Her World’ resulted from the Ph.D,, then was made into a documentary by Marco Orsini called ‘Gray Matters’ and then I had the best journey helping director Mary McGuckian in whatever way I could to make a movie on Eileen Gray called the ‘Price of Desire.’

 

Goff said that the Fulbright Scholar Program has been the best decision that she has made. It has afforded her the chance to do continual, uninterrupted research in one specific location.

 

“Too often (we as curators or academics) are pushed for time in archives and often I think that there is something that escapes us or slips through our fingertips. Being able to do this continuously has unearthed some incredible gems in several threads and lines of research which I have been following over the last number of years. The work here has provided the basis for three new publications,” she said.

 

Goff said she enjoys being a teacher at the New York School of Interior Design and truly values her students who share a lot of the same passions as her.

 

“Getting a chance to lecture again and interact, engage and be enthralled by both young and old has brought me back to my roots before I was a curator, and I truly forgot how wonderful college students are – how they keep me on my toes and keep my mind fresh. Professors should never assume that they know everything. I’ll probably be in trouble for saying that. But what I mean is that for me teaching and lecturing is as much a learning experience for me as I hope it is for them,” she stated.

 

“Having the chance to come to the New York School of Interior design and lecture students in Irish design and architecture is an incredibly opportunity. It is wonderful to be able to highlight and showcase the collections in the National Museum. Our collections are both national and international ranging from glass, ceramics, silver, metal ware, textiles, jewelry, furniture, musical and scientific instruments and of course a substantial collection by Eileen Gray. For me it has been an honor to teach New York School of Interior Design”

 

It’s no secret that Goff’s area of expertise is the twenty-first century Irish designer/architect, Eileen Gray. Her passion started in high school through a teacher she had that left a lasting impression.

 

“During secondary school in Ireland, high school here in the USA, I had one of those amazing teachers who just engages you, whose methods linger with you forever, and whose legacy never dies. Muriel Firth, my Art teacher, broke free from the constraints of normal teaching in relation to Art. Mrs. Firth not only embraced it but brought other teachers from Art universities in to teach us about the Russian Avant Garde, De Stijl and Cubism,” the professor informed.

 

“By the time I went to university my interest in her had developed so much that I went to the Victoria and Albert museum specifically to see her work. There I saw my first Eileen Gray black lacquer block screen. I spent nearly an hour looking at it and discovered other delights in their collection by Gray. I was under Gray’s spell from the start.”

 

The students and the UTPB community who attend Goff’s lectures will get a chance to “meet” Eileen Gray in her entirety renowned and highly influential architect, furniture maker, interior designer, artist, and photographer.

 

“My lecture will closely explore this extraordinary woman, her inner circle of fellow artists, designers and architects, and their philosophies and approach to twentieth-century Modernism.  Her work was multi-functional, user-friendly, ready for mass production yet succinctly unique, and her designs show great technical virtuosity. I will present to the students and UTPB community Gray’s early years as an artist, exploring her painting, sculpture, and photography. It will focus on her expertise in the realm of lacquer work and her designing and production of carpets in the era of Art Deco and modernist carpet design.  It will also explore in depth her social and cultural architectural projects and theories on urbanism,” she informed.

 

Goff will be speaking in the Charles A. Sorber Visual Arts Studios (VAS 202) at noon on Monday, March 6, 2017. There will be a reception in the gallery after the class. Her lecture at UTPB is entitled,” Concepts of Modern Art.” She will also speak at the Museum of the Southwest (1705 W. Missouri Ave.) in Midland 6. p.m. Tuesday, March 7. Both events are open to the public and are offered free of charge.

For more information, contact Marianne Woods at [email protected]

 

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Fulbright Scholar takes road less traveled