Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum to present panel discussion on Beauty and the Blonde Nov. 16

Artist Lynn Hershman Leeson and author Maria Elena Buszek join curator Catharina Manchanda

Pioneering performance artist Lynn Hershman Leeson and feminist scholar Maria Elena Buszek will join Catharina Manchanda, Ph.D., curator for the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, for a panel discussion at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16.

The event is held in conjunction with the exhibition Beauty and the Blonde: An Exploration of American Art and Popular Culture, which will open later that evening. Curated by Manchanda and featuring works by Leeson, Beauty and the Blonde is the first museum show to investigate the strategic use of the blonde in contemporary art.

Lynn Hershman Leeson
Lynn Hershman Leeson, *Constructing Roberta Breitmore* (1975). Courtesy of the artist and bitforms gallery, New York.

The discussion will take place in Steinberg Auditorium, located in Steinberg Hall, near the intersection of Skinker and Forsyth boulevards. A public reception for Beauty and the Blonde will immediately follow, from 7 to 10 p.m., in the Kemper Art Museum, which is located immediately adjacent to Steinberg.

Both the talk and the reception are free and open to the public. Beauty and the Blonde will remain on view through Jan. 28. Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The museum is closed Tuesdays.

For more information, call (314) 935-4523 or visit

Leeson, a professor of art at the University of California, Davis, has been featured in more than 200 exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world. Between 1971-78 she created the groundbreaking work Roberta Breitmore, an extended performance piece based on the artist’s fictional alter-ego.

“Many people assumed I was Roberta,” Leeson notes on her Web site. “Although I denied it at the time and insisted that she was ‘her own woman’ with defined needs, ambitions and instincts, in retrospect we were linked. Roberta represented part of me as surely as we all have within us an underside; a dark, shadowy anaemous cadaver that is the gnawing decay of our bodies.”

Leeson has also produced more than 50 major video works. In 1997 she released her first feature film, Conceiving Ada, followed by Teknolust in 2002. Her most recent film, the docu-drama Strange Culture, tells the story of Steve Kurtz, an internationally acclaimed artist who was detained as a “bioterrorist” by the FBI.

(Strange Culture will be screened at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, in Steinberg Auditorium as part of the St. Louis International Film Festival. Leeson will attend the screening and will receive the festival’s Women in Film Award.)

Buszek, an assistant professor of art history at the Kansas City Art Institute, is the author of Pin-up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, Popular Culture (2006). Beginning with the genre’s origins in mid-19th-century carte-de-visite photographs of burlesque performers, Pin-up Grrrls explores the development and evolution of the pin-up over the last 150 years, as well as its intimate connections with the history of feminism.

“Weaving commentary from academia with testimony from such sources as Salt N Pepa and sex worker Annie Sprinkle, Buszek’s authorial debut shows how the evolution of the pin-up is inextricably tied to the feminist movement, for better and worse, providing formal and (as she demonstrates) well-deserved appreciation to an art form that’s rarely given much respect,” notes Publisher’s Weekly. “Buszek isn’t afraid to dig deep into her subject, but she tempers her treatise with healthy doses of wit, grace and rhythm.”


The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, part of Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, is committed to furthering critical thinking and visual literacy through a vital program of exhibitions, publications and accompanying events. The museum dates back to 1881, making it the oldest art museum west of the Mississippi River. Today it boasts one of the finest university collections in the United States.


WHO: Author Maria Elena Buszek, artist Lynn Hershmann Leeson and curator Catharina Manchanda

WHAT: Beauty and the Blonde panel discussion

WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16

WHERE: Steinberg Hall Auditorium, intersection of Forsyth and Skinker boulevards

COST: Free

SPONSOR: Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum

INFORMATION: (314) 935-4523 or