In anticipation of her April 2021 book launch, art historian Leisa Rundquist joined Intuit President and CEO Debra Kerr to discuss the forthcoming book The Power and Fluidity of Girlhood in Henry Darger’s Art. Rundquist's book is the first to examine Darger's conceptual and visual representation of girlhood as it charts his use of little girl imagery in contexts that many scholars have read as puerile and psychologically disturbed, including his direct appropriations from mainstream sources as well as girls modified to meet his needs. Consequently, this inquiry qualifies the intersexed aspects of Darger’s girls as well as addresses their inherent cute and little associations that signal multivocal meanings often in conflict with each other. To illustrate their conversation, Kerr and Rundquist used source materials from the Henry Darger Room Collection, located at Intuit, as references to discuss the intricacies of Darger's representation of girls.
About the speakers
Debra Kerr is president and CEO of Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, a position she has held since 2014. Deb’s passion is for the role museums can play in social good and increasing museum relevance through programming focused on bringing the marginalized into the community. She is excited by opportunities to introduce audiences to unexpected engagement with art and opening each person up to their own untapped creativity to experience catharsis and self-fulfillment.
In 2010, Deb founded YouthMuse, which facilitated teens building their own online social change campaigns in partnership with host museums. During her 17-year career at the world-renowned Shedd Aquarium, she held progressively responsible roles, serving as executive vice president for 11 years. In 2013, Deb won a distinguished teaching award from Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies, where she has taught museum management since 2005. She serves on the board for the Merit School of Music, is a member of the American Alliance of Museums, and is a past board member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the National Veterans Art Museum. Deb is a frequent guest speaker on issues related to museum relevance, museum planning, teen empowerment, and activating the public for social good
Leisa Rundquist is an art historian, professor and curator who specializes in the fields of modern, contemporary and self-taught art. She holds a PhD in art history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and currently serves as a professor and university curator of art at UNC Asheville.
Rundquist’s research speaks to the intersections of childhood, religious piety, gender and race in the art of Henry Darger. New directions in her scholarship explore curatorial strategies that construct the representation of marginalized artists and their artistic practices, specifically those categorized as self-taught and “outsider.”