Emory Report
April 20, 2009
Volume 61, Number 28


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April 20
, 2009
John Howett Travel Fund will broaden horizons

From Staff Reports

To honor her favorite professor in Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Rhoda Barnett Bernstein ’76C and her husband, Howard, have given Emory $50,000 to establish the John Howett Travel Fund for Advanced Undergraduate Seminars in Art History.

A scholar of Italian Renaissance and contemporary American art, John Howett retired in 1996 after 30 years at Emory. He passed away on April 8. (See related story) Howett played a central role in the development of the Carlos Museum. A beloved professor, he led a student trip to New York City in the 1970s that enriched Bernstein’s life. The group visited museums, studios and galleries, talking with artists and curators during a burgeoning time in New York’s modern art scene.

“That trip to New York changed so many things — how I thought about art, how I looked at art, what it meant to me, and where it led me in my life just in terms of participation,” Bernstein said during a recent visit to Emory. “That all-encompassing view of contemporary art took me to a place of how artists produce, how critics look at art, and the whole process. You can’t find that in a slideshow.”

The Bernsteins’ gift will be based within the Department of Art History and will support group travel experiences in connection with undergraduate art history courses and seminars.
Judith Rohrer, chair of the department, says the gift will provide valuable assured funding so faculty members can plan courses before major shows in a different cities. An expert in architectural history, Rohrer looks forward to the day when she can take a group of Emory students to Chicago for a weekend to see early skyscrapers.

Bernstein hopes the travel fund will help other students realize the importance of art. Over the years, her New York experience has served her well as a member of museum boards in Fort Worth, Texas, and as an art collector. With the current economic climate, she says, it’s more important than ever for students to find a creative outlet to succeed in life. “For me, art became a lifelong enrichment. It started right here at Emory, and it continued.”

Shortly before his passing, Howett said it was “humbling” to have the gift made in his honor. “Teachers only live on in the memories of their students. So it’s very gratifying when someone comes back and says maybe you were worthy. That’s exciting for a teacher.”

For more information on the travel fund, contact Jeff Prince at 404-727-4494 or jprince@emory.edu.