Benedictine Monk, Former Chinese Prisoner, Artist Eva Hesse, Anti-apartheid Leader To Speak at Yale This Week

The following talks at Yale University April 27-May 3 are free and open to the public, unless noted otherwise.

TransAfrica founder to be guest at master’s tea

Randall Robinson, the founder of TransAfrica, will discuss his book “Defending the Spirit: A Black Life in America” on Tuesday, April 28, during a tea at 1:30 p.m. in the Davenport College master’s house, 271 Park St.

TransAfrica has spearheaded the movement to influence U.S. policies toward Africa and the Caribbean. Since Robinson founded TransAfrica in 1977, it has grown from a two-person, one-room organization to a national lobby with more than 15,000 members and international influence. It became the galvanizing force behind the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, the efforts to secure the release of Nelson Mandela and the fight to reinstate President Aristide and restore democracy in Haiti.

In his memoir “Defending the Spirit,” Robinson chronicles his journey rising from a poor childhood in the segregated South to become an influential figure in Washington politics. He has been featured prominently in the print media and has appeared on such nationally televised news and current affairs programs as “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and “The Charlie Rose Show,” among others.

Former Chinese prisoner to inaugurate Bernstein Lecture

Former Chinese prisoner Wei Jingsheng will present the inaugural Robert L. Bernstein Lecture on Tuesday, April 28, 4-6 p.m. in Levinson Auditorium of the Law School, 127 Wall St. His lecture is titled “Human Rights in China: Challenges Ahead.”

Wei will be introduced by Robert Bernstein, a human rights activist and former chair, president and chief executive officer of Random House Inc. Bernstein founded both the International Freedom to Publish Committee of the Association of American Publishers and the organization Human Rights Watch, which he still chairs.

The Chinese government released Wei to the United States in 1997 after almost continuous imprisonment since 1979. Wei was originally imprisoned for his writings, which were critical of Deng Xiaoping and advocated democracy. Wei’s release came two weeks after Bernstein issued a challenge to the human rights community to work for the Chinese prisoner’s release

Benedictine monk to lead Christian meditation

Father Laurence Freeman, a Benedictine monk of the Monastery of Christ the King in Cockfosters, London, will present “A Teaching on Christian Meditation” at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29, in Saint Thomas More Catholic Center at Yale, 268 Park St.

Educated by the Benedictines at Oxford University, Freeman became a monk after a brief career in the business world. He assisted Father John Main in establishing the first Christian Meditation Centers in London and Montreal. After Main’s death, Freeman succeeded him as director of the World Community of Christian Meditation. In that role, he travels the world teaching meditation. The diverse groups he has worked with have ranged from a Trappist monastic community in Kentucky to Mother Teresa’s community of sisters in Calcutta, India. His books include “Light Within,” “The Selfless Self,” “Christian Meditation,” “Your Daily Practice” and “Web of Silence.”

Artist Eva Hesse will be the topic of curator’s talk

Elisabeth Sussman, a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, will give a talk titled “Eva Hesse: Rope as Line and Form” on Friday, May 1, at 5:30 p.m. at the Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel St. Her talk is the final event in the series of lectures by leading art historians in conjunction with the gallery’s exhibition “Then and Now and Later: Art Since 1945 at Yale.” A 5 p.m. reception precedes the lecture.

Before going to the Whitney Museum in 1991, Sussman was curator and then interim director of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, where she organized exhibitions by such artists as David Salle, Julian Schnabel, Anselm Kiefer and Jackson Pollock. Most recently at the Whitney she was curator of last year’s Keith Haring retrospective and the mid-career retrospective of Nan Goldin. In addition to the catalogues for many exhibitions she has organized, Sussman has contributed to numerous European and American arts publications.

Directors of four major art museums discuss trends

Jock Reynolds, the Yale University Art Gallery’s director-designate, will be joined by the directors of three other leading American art museums on Saturday, May 2, for a symposium about the long-term concerns of their institutions.

“Looking Ahead: Issues for Museums in the 21st Century,” will take place 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel St. The symposium features James Cuno, director of the Harvard Art Museums; Thomas Krens, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museums and Foundation in New York; Glenn Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York; and Reynolds, current director of the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts, who will become the Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Yale Art Gallery on Sept. 1.

Reynolds will open the symposium at 10:30 a.m. with a talk titled “The Role of the Artist in a Teaching Museum.” The complex ethical and social implications of acquiring art will be explored in Cuno’s talk, titled “Going Public: Art Museums and Acquisitions, Now and in the Future.” He has written about the museum profession in “Money, Power, and the History of Art: Whose Money? Whose Power? Whose Art History?”

In his lecture, “MoMA and the Future: Building the New Museum of Modern Art,” Lowry will discuss such practical considerations as the impact that housing enormous works of art has on museum design to philosophical issues, such as the mission of the museum in the 21st century.

Following a 12:30-2:30 p.m. lunch break, Krens will give a lecture titled “A Network of Museums: The Satellite Theory,” which will explore the international reach of his institution. Krens, who earned his M.P.P.M. from the Yale School of Management, heads the two Guggenheim Museums in New York City – one on Fifth Avenue and one in Soho – as well as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy. As director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, he also oversees the recently opened Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

Following Krens’ talk, the four directors will take part in a conversation moderated by Jules D. Prown, the Paul Mellon Professor in the History of Art. The event will conclude with a reception in the Art Gallery’s Sculpture Hall.

The event is sponsored by the Members of the Yale Art Museums, the membership organization of the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art. The fee is $30 for museum members; $40 for nonmembers. Proceeds will support the educational and outreach activities of the two museums. For reservations, call 432-9658.

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