The W hosted Dr. Benjamin Harvey, associate professor of Art History at Mississippi State, for the Howard Art History Lecture as he delved into his own family history.
Students and faculty alike were welcomed into the Fine Arts building lobby were they were treated to hor d'oeuvres and red and white wine by the glass. Attendees were treated to Harvey and his family’s legacy of art and exploration.
Harvey took the gallery stage to applause. His prominent British accent made clear that his baccalaureate and masters degrees were earned from the University of Birmingham—the one in England, not Alabama.
The topic of the lecture was “London Ladakah and Labrador: The Art and Adventures of Mollie Molesworth.” Molesworth is Harvey’s great aunt, which made the lecture not only academic but sentimental as he narrated the experience of following the life of his ancestor.
“This is first time I’ve talked about Mollie in public,” said Harvey as he opened his lecture. “You know there’s those things in the family where you have a strange investment because it’s your family, but at some point you want to say, “Am I crazy or is this good stuff? Is this interesting to the wider world?”
The audience sat with rapt attention as Harvey presented his family history while tying Molesworth to the present. He presented questions which challenge art and society today, such as “What is lost if art education loses the nude as a technique?” and “What is the effect that dying unwed has on one’s legacy, female or otherwise?”
The potency of the lecture came from the experience of seeing the growth of an artist. Harvey’s sketches, paintings and artwork showed the awkwardness of a girl giving way to the pioneering and curious nature of a woman. Molesworth was a woman who painted while traveling the world. She even had the honor of being invited to a party in which the royal family was in attendance.
The lecture allowed the faculty and students alike to take a journey with Harvey as he explained his exploration of his great-aunt’s legacy.