University professor’s book ‘huge inspiration’ to readers

Jonathan Fineberg, co-author of Imagining America, signs a copy of his book for University spokeswoman Lex Tate at the Union Bookstore on Wednesday night. Adam Babcock

Jonathan Fineberg, co-author of “Imagining America,” signs a copy of his book for University spokeswoman Lex Tate at the Union Bookstore on Wednesday night. Adam Babcock

By Aaron Geiger

The Illini Union Bookstore hosted a large book signing on Wednesday in conjunction with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, featuring “Big Brains on Campus,” as well as other prominent Champaign-Urbana and University personalities.

Among the distinguished guests was Jonathan Fineberg, a University professor of art history, promoting his multimedia creation “Imagining America” in conjunction with John Carlin.

Fineberg, a Harvard graduate, received his Ph.D. in 1975. He attended Columbia University and Yale University for a total of five years. Fineberg returned to the University in 1984 to “make art accessible to people.”

“Art is for the words that we don’t have to talk about … most people don’t understand the deeper content of art,” Fineberg said from his signing table.

Along with his book, Fineberg has a PBS miniseries airing Dec. 28 of this year, using the same title.

Earlier this semester, the Krannert Center for Performing Arts screened Fineberg and Carlin’s documentary to a full auditorium. The documentary featured the works of American artists from the era of Jackson Pollock and Georgia O’Keefe to the commercial art of Andy Warhol, and urban contributions of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Lex Tate, University spokeswoman, bought Fineberg’s book.

“(Fineberg) is a very clear writer and clear thinker … clear thinkers tend to contribute the most,” Tate said. “The name of the book fits the contents perfectly.”

Michael Ross, director of the Krannert Center, also a “Big Brain” calendar feature, credited Fineberg’s contributions to the University.

“He is a huge inspiration to me,” Ross said. “I knew him eight years ago, and I know he has a tremendous international and national reputation in the realm of art history.”

Those purchasing the book “Imagining America” will find a direct correlation to the upcoming PBS documentary, but both mediums provide new and inventive information to the audience.

Both the miniseries and book are geared to serve the average person, as well as distinguished art historian academics. The audience participation at both of Fineberg’s events was diverse enough to demonstrate the wide appreciation of Fineberg’s latest achievement.