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Darwin Day: The Evolution of Animal Art (Grand Rapids)

February 10, 2016
7:00 pm

The Sweet House
254 E. Fulton
Grand Rapids, MI 49503 United States

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Organized by:
Jennifer Beahan
Phone: 616-698-2342 x801
Email: jbeahan@centerforinquiry.org


In Celebration of Darwin Day we welcome Kirsten Strom to speak on The Evolution of Animal Art.

One of the major implications of evolutionary theory is that humans are primates closely related not only to other primates, but also to myriad other species with whom we share a very ancient common progenitor. Darwin particularly stressed this point in The Descent of Man, in which he remarked repeatedly that differences between humans and other animals are differences of degree and not kind. He furthermore emphasized that our likeness to other animals is not merely anatomical, but that we share with them many intellectual and emotional commonalities as well. Darwin even ascribed to other animals an aesthetic faculty, evident for example in bird song and in the degree to which many animal species have evolved evidently “useless” adaptations in order to be more beautiful to potential mates, as with the elaborate plumage of peacock.

This presentation will consider evidence for the “higher” faculties of intellect and aesthetic appreciation in nonhuman animals through an exploration of animals as producers of art and architecture. Examples will include beaver dams, beehives, and bower bird “houses,” as well as “paintings” produced by elephants, gorillas, and numerous other animals in a captive state.

Meetings are open to the Public

After the meeting, join us at Vitale’s Restaurant, 834 Leonard NE, Grand Rapids, MI to socialize. View Map

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About Kirsten Strom

Associate Professor of Art History, Grand Valley State University

Kirsten Strom is Associate Professor of Art History at Grand Valley State University. Her teaching and research interests include Surrealism and the emerging interdisciplinary field of Animal Studies. Accordingly, her most recent work is a forthcoming book titled The Animal Surreal: The Role of Darwin, Animals, and Evolution in Surrealism. She has also written on a variety of other topics including Dance Anthropology, early cinema, and alternative music in the 1980s. In addition to her courses on Surrealism and Animals in Art, she teaches classes on Asian Art and Contemporary Art and Theory.