A Taste of Art: New Lunchtime Series Serves Up Art History in Small Bites  

Meher McArthur.

This fall, Meher McArthur, Scripps’ Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Curator of Academic Programs and Collections, is launching the Taste of Art lunchtime series. For five consecutive Wednesdays, beginning September 19, the 15-minute talks around campus will focus on a single work of art from the College’s 10,000-object permanent collection. Students, faculty, and staff are invited to explore the wealth of paintings, prints, ceramics, sculpture, photography, textiles, and lacquerware on campus, one work at a time.

Below, McArthur shares more about the series, what to expect, and the topics and locations for each session.

On what to expect at A Taste of Art:

Students, faculty, and staff can expect to become acquainted with some of the objects in Scripps’ collection and learn a bit about their historical and cultural contexts. For example, the first work we’ll look at is a statue of the Buddhist deity Tara. People may know about Buddhism, but not necessarily about Buddhist iconography, what the statues mean, and what they represent to Buddhists.

On what inspired her to begin this series:

My job is to liaise with Scripps’ faculty to help make them aware of our art collection as a tool for teaching. This series helps with that outreach. Not everyone thinks that art relates to their discipline or their major, but I’ve had talks with a French professor about using art to teach the language, and I’ve also been in touch with the Math Department about using the John Mason exhibition currently on display at the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery as a way to explore patterns and geometry. Some of these ideas will hopefully blossom into future classes using art in many diverse departments. Art is an amazing entry point into so many different types of conversations!

On her eclectic choices:

I wanted to feature a variety of artworks in order to emphasize some of the strengths of Scripps’ collection. For example, we have deep holdings in modern American ceramics as well as photography and Japanese woodblock prints. I also wanted to present objects from many different cultures (the series has pieces from American, Japanese, French, Mexican, and Nepalese traditions) from the past few hundred years.

But I also chose pieces that are likely to be accessible in some way. I chose the statue of Tara because, well, I thought our student body could relate to the goddess! The Marilyn Monroe photograph we’ll look at is more modern and iconic, and I selected an Alfredo Ramos Martínez painting because we have his murals in Margaret Fowler Garden. There really is something for everyone.

What do you want students to take away from the experience? Can they recommend pieces for you to discuss?

I want people to feel that they can pop over during their lunch break and learn something new. I hope that it sparks an interest in finding out more about our collection and about art as a whole, and I welcome suggestions for the works or areas they’d like me to cover in the next series!


These 15-minute lectures take place on Wednesdays at 12:30pm on the Scripps campus.

September 19, Clark Humanities Museum

Female Buddhist Deity Tara, Nepalese, 18–19th century, bronze

September 26, Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery

John Mason, Container (X), 1959, glazed stoneware

October 3, Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery

Katsushika Hokusai, Hodogaya on the Tokaido Road, c. 1829, woodblock print, ink and colors on paper 

October 10, Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller, 1960, gelatin silver print on paper,

October 17, Margaret Fowler Garden

Alfredo Ramos Martínez, Bowl of Fruit on Woman’s Head, 1943, pastel on paper