WAM Reading Group for Members

WAM Reading Group for Members

A book club for reading and art lovers alike, the Worcester Art Museum Reading Group is open to all Museum members and staff. Together, we read and discuss books in the genre of art historical fiction, artist biographies, and books relating to current Museum exhibitions. We also have a private Facebook group where we share extra content (such as videos, reviews, images, and other books) relating to our current read.

To join the group, email WAM Librarian, Rebecca Morin, at rebeccamorin@worcesterart.org.

2021/22 Schedule of Books and Events

“Clara and Mr. Tiffany” book cover

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

It’s 1893, and at the Chicago World’s Fair, Louis Comfort Tiffany makes his debut with a luminous exhibition of innovative stained-glass windows, which he hopes will honor his family business and earn him a place on the international artistic stage. But behind the scenes in his New York studio is the freethinking Clara Driscoll, head of his women’s division. Publicly unrecognized by Tiffany, Clara conceives of and designs nearly all of the iconic leaded-glass lamps for which he is long remembered. Clara struggles with her desire for artistic recognition and the seemingly insurmountable challenges that she faces as a professional woman, which ultimately force her to protest against the company she has worked so hard to cultivate. She also yearns for love and companionship, and is devoted in different ways to five men, including Tiffany, who enforces to a strict policy: he does not hire married women, and any who do marry while under his employ must resign immediately. Eventually, like many women, Clara must decide what makes her happiest—the professional world of her hands or the personal world of her heart. We will meet via Zoom on Wednesday, November 17th at 5:30pm for a discussion.

As a follow up to Clara and Mr. Tiffany, we will hear a presentation on the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, given by Martha Chiarchairo, WAM Instructor. We will meet via Zoom on Wednesday, December 1st at 6pm.

“England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton” book cover

England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton by Kate Williams

Emma Hamilton was England's first superstar. She fought her way out of dire poverty to become a fashion icon, an Ambassador's wife, a confidante of both Queen Marie Antoinette and the Queen of Naples, and the mistress of Lord Nelson, England's greatest military hero. Drawing on hundreds of previously undiscovered letters, England's Mistress follows Emma's dramatic journey from the slums of Northern England to the Royal Court of Naples, and from the brothels of St. James's to the tragedy and glory of the Napoleonic wars. Muse and mother, wife and mistress, celebrity and villain, victim and survivor: Emma Hamilton was one of the most remarkable women in British history. Emma set out to make herself a star - and she succeeded beyond even her wildest dreams. By her early twenties, she was the most painted woman of her day. Her 'Attitudes', classical postures in diaphanous outfits, thrilled aristocrats and intellectuals while her innovations in fashion and dress changed the way women looked for ever. Shrewdly manipulating the media's fascination with her, Emma made herself into the most famous woman in England, desired by every man she met, adored by thousands, and, for a time, very rich. Yet, she was willing to throw it all away for the man she loved. Extensively researched but told with a novelist's flair, this is the story of one woman's fight to live on her own terms. England's Mistress captures the relentless drive, innovative style and burning passion of a true heroine. We will meet via Zoom on Wednesday, February 16th at 5:30pm for a discussion.

The exhibition, Love Stories from the National Portrait Gallery, London will explore love's role in the creation of some of the greatest masterpieces of Western art. At the heart of the exhibition is a series of real-life love stories, captured through the likenesses of sitters. As an enhancement to our exploration of Emma Hamilton, we will tour the exhibition with a WAM docent. We will meet in the Lancaster Lobby on Saturday, February 26 at 11am.

“Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” book cover

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Addressing identity as a socio-political issue has been a central theme for artists since the 1970s. The exhibition, Us Them We | Race Ethnicity Identity, will consider the ways that contemporary artists accentuate concepts like race and ethnicity through various visual strategies. We will read and discuss, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson as she explores how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings. This book will enhance our appreciation and understanding of the art shown throughout the exhibition. We will meet via Zoom on Wednesday, May 11th, at 5:30pm for a discussion of the book. Then, we will tour the exhibition with co-curators, Nancy Kathryn Burns, Stoddard associate curator of prints, drawings and photographs at WAM, and Toby Sisson, associate professor and program director of studio art at Clark University. We will meet at the WAM Library on Friday, June 3rd at 1:00pm.

The group will vote on a book to read and enjoy over the summer months and will meet in the WAM courtyard for a disussion on Wednesday, August 17th at 5:30pm.