Exploring Two Different Topics, Provocative Lecturers Coming to Mary Baldwin

March 18, 2010

Update 3/22: With the passage of sweeping reform in Congress March 21, it’s a historic week for healthcare in the United States. As the country sorts out what the changes mean, an award-winning writer on the topic will visit Mary Baldwin University to share her expertise on this timely subject. Read more below about Shannon Brownlee, medical journalist and author of Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer, who will deliver the 2010 Carpenter Lecture in Healthcare Administration at 7 p.m. March 24 in Francis Auditorium.


Even though they’re bringing perspective to entirely different subjects, two visitors promise to stir much thought at Mary Baldwin University this month.

Medical journalist Shannon Brownlee will speak about the recent healthcare debate on March 24 and artist Oliver Herring will talk about his work as a painter, sculptor, and performance artist on March 29. Both don’t-miss lectures begin at 7 p.m. in Francis Auditorium and are free and open to the public.

Bringing ‘Taskiverse’ to Mary Baldwin
On the eve of presenting the annual Susan Paul Firestone Lecture in Contemporary Art, Oliver Herring will invite the Mary Baldwin community to participate in or simply observe one of his signature TASK parties — a performance art piece in which participants are recruited to perform random acts in various public forums.

Herring films volunteers as they draw from a “task pool” and use their energy; imagination; and items such as cardboard, plastic bags, pencils, tables, plastic wrap, tape, markers, and ladders to interpret the tasks they’ve selected. The random acts can range from “stand on one leg” to “start a revolution. ”

The Mary Baldwin project, already dubbed “Taskiverse,” will be held in the drawing and paining studio in Deming Fine Arts Building from 7 to 10 p.m. March 28.

Gillian Jordan ’12 is helping Herring prepare for the TASK event. So far, she has gathered materials (accepting anything that isn’t going to rot or deteriorate by the 28th) and spreading the word about the visit.

“So far we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback and there are plenty of people who are majorly excited. The most frequently asked question so far is what exactly a TASK party is, but due to the spontaneous nature of such events, it’s actually a hard question to answer,” Jordan said. She suggested that people go to Herring’s blog, oliverherringtask.wordpress.com, or to You Tube, to get a better understanding.

According to the artist himself, the TASK art form creates almost unlimited opportunities.

“It is a complex, ever-shifting environment of people who connect with one another through what is around them,” Herring wrote on his TASK blog. “It is also a platform for people to express and test their own ideas in an environment without failure and success.”

Jordan is encouraging the community to experience what promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience.

“It’s … a communal, spontaneous, and intense event,” Jordan said. “TASK parties are incredibly unique experiences by nature, so it’ll be next to impossible to re-create the feel and moment of Taskiverse.”

Also during his two-day visit to Mary Baldwin, Herring will attend art classes and meet one-one-one with selected advanced-level art students. In addition to his work in performance art, Herring has painted and sculpted, drawing inspiration from how people interact with one another and often making statements about society.