FLUSHING, NY, October 22, 2009 – The Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College will host “Common Ground” this fall, an exhibition of 30 paintings, drawings, and prints by internationally acclaimed American artist Fitz Maurice that celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification of Germany. The work was chosen by the German Parliament as the official artistic rendition of this historic event. This free exhibition is being presented by the college in conjunction with a program of events promoting tolerance. Opening on Monday, November 2, “Common Ground” will be on view through Saturday, December 19.
First shown in 1990 at the German Parliament in Bonn under the title “Berlin Metamorphosis,” Fitz Maurice’s work depicts Berlin before, during, and after the fall of the wall. In October, selections from the exhibit previewed at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Park, the original site of the United Nations, not far from the 1964 World’s Fair Unisphere. The Unisphere Board has unanimously endorsed Fitz Maurice’s design of four interlinked hands of different skin colors as a message to encourage tolerance around the world. On Thursday, November 5 at 6:30 pm, the public is invited to a talk by the artist in the museum.
Winner of the 2001 Jackson Pollock-Lee Krasner Foundation Award, Fitz Maurice represented the U.S. at the 2001 Florence Biennale and the 2002 Paris Triennale. Berlin’s City Hall exhibited her “Berlin Metamorphosis” series to commemorate the Berlin Airlift. The International Society for Human Rights adopted her painting The War of Human Rights as their symbol, and in 1993 it was exhibited at the United Nations World Conference in Vienna.
Fitz Maurice studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology; the Museum of Modern Art; the Printmakers Workshop; the Arts Students League in New York City; and the International School of Art in Umbria, Italy. She has had solo exhibitions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Italy, and Germany, and at the 2000 R.A.D.D./Paul McCartney Tribute in Beverly Hills. Her work has been exhibited at the Kamchatka Museum, Russia; San Francisco International Art Festival; Latin American Museum of Art in Florida; Laguna Art Museum (California); and the Goethe-Institut and Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.
Amy Winter, director and curator of the Godwin-Ternbach Museum, cites five oil-on- canvas paintings of particular significance in the exhibition: Metamorphosis of Berlin, The Eternal Wall, Quadriga, Reichstag, and Beacon. “These works address the discrepancies between the old and new orders, East and West Germany, communism and capitalism,” she says. “They depict icons of fear and oppression with symbols of the Nazi past and World War II, to remind people of the destruction of war.” Another painting in the exhibition that is related to tolerance but not part of the Berlin series, Winter says, is The War of Human Rights, which has been adopted as an international symbol.
“I captured Berlin as it underwent a metamorphosis from the war-riddled city to a modern metropolis,” comments Fitz Maurice. “My constant goal was to capture history in the making. It is a gift for any artist to witness dramatic events that personally affect lives and permanently change the view of the world. The message of ‘Common Ground’ is: Let’s take down all the walls standing between countries and begin to live as one people on one planet. Tolerance is the first step towards peace.”
The museum has published an accompanying 40-page full-color catalogue with illustrations of all the works in the exhibition. This exhibition was made possible by the College’s Office of the President (James Muyskens) and Vice President for Institutional Advancement (Sue Henderson), with additional support from the Queens College Foundation Board.
Fitz Maurice chose Queens College as the appropriate venue for launching the tolerance movement because the college exemplifies the themes of tolerance and diversity: it has one of the most ethnically diverse student bodies in the United States, with students from 140 nations who speak more than 60 languages.
Exhibition hours are Monday–Thursday, 11 am to 7 pm; Saturday, 11 am to 5 pm. The museum is open on Sundays during related exhibition events. Please call 718-997-4747 for further information on the exhibition and public programs, or visit http://www.qc.cuny.edu/godwin_ternbach.
By car, the Godwin-Ternbach Museum is 40 minutes from midtown Manhattan. Directions are at http://www.qc.cuny.edu/welcome/directions/Pages/default.aspx .
The Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College is the only comprehensive collection of art and artifacts in the borough of Queens, housing over 3,700 objects that date from ancient to modern times. The mission of the GTM has grown over time from serving as a teaching museum for the benefit of art and art history students to embracing all disciplines and an increasingly diverse and engaged community. All exhibitions are free, as are their related lectures, symposia, gallery talks, workshops, films, concerts, and tours.
Other Tolerance-Themed Events
On Sunday, November 15 from 2-5 pm in LeFrak Concert Hall, the Center for Jewish Studies under the direction of Professor Mark Rosenblum will not only be commemorating the Holocaust, but participants will discuss and commit to combating anti-Semitism and hatred in all forms. The college has received grants from the Ford Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative for its award-winning programs to foster understanding and peace between Muslims and Jews. Recently, the U.S. Department of Education funded the creation of a new Center on Ethnic and Racial Understanding at the college. This center will bring together students, family members and community members from various racial, religious and ethnic groups to increase their appreciation, tolerance and understanding of those who don’t belong to their own group.
A Tolerance Benefit Concert Tribute Jam to Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie sponsored by HSBC and Major World takes place Tuesday, November 17 in Colden Auditorium at 8 pm. The concert features Latin Grammy-nominated former New York Yankee Bernie Williams, legendary jazz artist Jimmy Owens, and Randy Weston and his African Rhythms, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, 13-year-old bass prodigy Daryl Johns, guitarist Yotam Silberstein, bassist Kenny Davis and Steve Johns on drums. Producer is music icon Tony Bongiovi. Beneficiaries are the Recording Artists, Actors and Athletes Against Drunk Driving (RADD), the Jazz Foundation of America and Queens College Foundation. Tickets range from $15 to $45. A Special $150 Meet the Artist package is also available. For information on this event, call the box office at (718) 793-8080.