2017 ELIZABETH GREENFIELD ZEIDMAN LECTURE
This lecture held on October 11, 2017 and moderated by Academic Dean Patti Phillips was a wonderful opportunity for the Philadelphia community to learn more about and interact with the two 2017 Visionary Woman Award honorees – sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard and photographer Andrea Baldeck. The lecture took the form of a discussion with questions covering the path the honorees took to become distinguished professional women artists, the decisions they made (and didn’t), the opportunities and challenges they encountered, and what they still hoped to accomplish.
URSULA VON RYDINGSVARD
Ursula Von Rydingsvard is best known for creating large-scale, often monumental sculpture from cedar beams, which she painstakingly cuts, assembles, and laminates, finally rubbing powdered graphite into the work’s textured, faceted surfaces. Recently she has cast sculptures in bronze from full-scale cedar models. She deliberately uses cedar boards milled into 4" by 4" widths with varying lengths, which create a neutrality or "blank canvas" which enables her to dip into many different possibilities often within the arena of the psychological and emotional. As she explains this approach: "If I were to say how it is that I break the convention of sculpture (and I'm not sure that's what I do or even if that's what I want to do), it would be by climbing into the work in a way that’s highly personal, that I can claim as being mine. The more mine it is, the more I’m able to break the convention."
Born in a rural village in western New York, Andrea Baldeck began photographing with a simple Brownie camera at age eight, imagining herself a Life photographer canoeing through the jungle to meet Albert Schweitzer. This interest and dream pervaded years of musical study at Vassar, medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, and practice as an internist and anesthesiologist. On medical trips to Haiti and Grenada, camera and stethoscope occupied the same bag. In the early 1990’s she left the operating room for the darkroom, to work as a fine-art photographer in black and white. During the following decade, her portfolio grew to accommodate portraiture, still life, and landscapes, as featured in her books The Heart of Haiti (1996, second edition 2006), Talismanic (1998), Venice a personal View (1999), Touching the Mekong (2003), Closely Observed (2006), Presence Passing (2007), Himalaya: land of the snow lion (2009), and Bones Books and Bell Jars (2012), a photographic essay evoking the history of medicine. Since 1996 she has exhibited widely in the U.S. and abroad, and her images are found in museums and private collections.