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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 12, 2005

Art Historian Joni Kinsey Will Discuss Grant Wood's Years At The UI Oct. 27

Joni Kinsey, a faculty member of the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History, will present a free lecture, "Grant Wood at the University of Iowa: Community and Controversy," at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27 in the UI Museum of Art.

The lecture is presented in conjunction with "Grant Wood at 5 Turner Alley," an exhibition of more than 170 of Wood's works currently on display at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. The exhibition includes many of Wood's most important and famous paintings, including "American Gothic," on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago. It will be on view through Dec. 5.

Kinsey's lecture, one of a series of events organized in conjunction with the exhibition, is based on her research into Wood's years on the UI faculty.

"Although Grant Wood is Iowa's most famous artist, relatively few people know much about his life and work at the UI in the 1930s, during the last years of his life," Kinsey explained.

Wood taught painting in the School of Art from 1934 to 1942, during which time he supervised mural painting projects, mentored students, produced a variety of his own works and became a key part of the university's cultural community. This was an important time for the development of the arts at the UI, and included the founding of the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

In her research, Kinsey has learned that even as Wood was part of a close-knit group of artists and writers and was increasingly well known nationally, he was also at odds with his own university department. She believes that the controversies that surrounded his final years before his premature death in 1942 not only hampered his productivity as a painter, but also ultimately affected his reputation both at the university and nationally.

"Far from an instance of local academic politics, the dispute colored his legacy for decades after his death, even affecting how Regionalism itself was portrayed in subsequent histories of American art," Kinsey said.

Kinsey will present this story in a slide lecture, discussing Wood's art of the late 1930s and the personalities at the UI that sought to undermine his significance and the long-term impact of his art.

Kinsey teaches American art history at the UI, with research specialties in American landscape painting and western art. She organized the 1996 UIMA exhibition "Plain Pictures: Images of the American Prairie," for which she also wrote and edited the accompanying book for Smithsonian Institution Press. She is also the author of "Thomas Moran and the Surveying of the American West," "The Majestic Grand Canyon: 150 Years in Art" and the forthcoming "Thomas Moran's West: Chromolithography, High Art, and Popular Taste."

Kinsey received her doctorate from Washington University in 1989. Her recent articles include "Cultivating Iowa: An Introduction to Grant Wood," in "Grant Wood's Studio: Birthplace of American Gothic," and "I Wished for the Pencil of Salvator Rosa: The Artistic Legacy of Lewis and Clark."

The School of Art and Art History is part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. You may visit the UI School of Art and Art History Web site at

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open noon to 9 p.m. Thursdays. Admission is free. For more information on the UI Museum of Art visit on the World Wide Web.

For information on UI arts events, visit on the World Wide Web. Information on the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art and the Grant Wood exhibition can be found at

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,