Category Archives: Art

Kadir Nelson: Harlem on my Mind

Kadir Nelson is an artist/illustrator whose work I just love. I became aware of him first as an illustrator of some children’s books I’ve been reading. Then I discovered that his work is also featured frequently on the cover of the New Yorker magazine. His painting “Harlem on My Mind” is a wonderful expression of his tremendous talent. His statement on the painting is below.

“The New Yorker cover painting Harlem on My Mind celebrates the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the civil rights movement, and Harlem’s rich history in the visual, literary and performing arts. I created a stylistic montage of images as an homage to great Harlem renaissance painters Aaron Douglas, William H. Johnson, Norman Lewis, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Horace Pippin, Henry Tanner, Archibald Motley and Palmer Hayden; performers the Nicholas Brothers; writers James Baldwin and Zora Neale Hurston; and activist Malcolm Shabazz.”

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

One of the positive things about our extended time of quarantine for the Covid-19 virus, is that there have been so many excellent online events and experiences to lift our spirits and remind us of the beautiful and special things in life. I found one of those online events and enjoyed an amazing performance serial of the classic poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  I read it once long ago (in high school), and probably wouldn’t have read it again until I found this link.  It’s a MUST experience, because each section is read by a different performing artist, and the artwork that accompanies it is phenomenal. It’s a completely immersive art experience, and is incredibly powerful. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the experience!

After The Original Drawing By Gustave Dore

WOMEN, by Annie Leibovitz

The photography of Annie Leibovitz is always fascinating to me. She is a brilliant artist and her photographs are amazing and profound. Her book, WOMEN, a collaborative work with Susan Sontag, who wrote a powerful essay on women for the book, is an incredibly thought-provoking study of the diversity of women.

 

from the publisher:

The photographs by Annie Leibovitz in Women, taken especially for the book, encompass a broad spectrum of subjects: a rap artist, an astronaut, two Supreme Court justices, farmers, coal miners, movie stars, showgirls, rodeo riders, socialites, reporters, dancers, a maid, a general, a surgeon, the First Lady of the United States, the secretary of state, a senator, rock stars, prostitutes, teachers, singers, athletes, poets, writers, painters, musicians, theater directors, political activists, performance artists, and businesswomen. “Each of these pictures must stand on its own,” Susan Sontag writes in the essay that accompanies the portraits. “But the ensemble says, So this what women are now — as different, as varied, as heroic, as forlorn, as conventional, as unconventional as this.”

Susan Sontag’s essay on women and photography was just as powerful as the photographs in the book.

“Women are judged by their appearance as men are not, and women are punished more than men are by the changes brought about by aging.”

“One of the tasks of photography is to disclose, and shape our sense of, the variety of the world. It is not to present ideals. There is no agenda except diversity and interestingness. There are no judgments, which of course is itself a judgment.”

I have used the words “powerful” and “profound” to describe this book, and the collaboration of these two women certainly achieved that! It is not a light-weight book. It is not one to just skim through. Their exploration of the lives of women is illuminating, disturbing, uplifting, fascinating. Take your time with this book.

This book was published in 1999 and Ms. Leibovitz considered that “the project was never done.” She continued to work on it,  and in collaboration with her friend, Gloria Steinem, created a 2016 international traveling exhibit called WOMEN: New Portraits

Self-portrait with daughters…

I read this book and celebrate this artist as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old. Annie Leibovitz was born in the same year as me, 1949!

A Relevant Quote

Mother Combing Sara’s Hair, by Mary Cassatt

One of my all-time favorite books is The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher, and I’ve reread it numerous times. The last time I read it I wrote down a quote that is very relevant to me right now, having just lost my mother last month. It’s something I am feeling and processing, and I love that a favorite author could put it into words for me.

But the next few months would not be easy. As long as Mumma was alive, she knew that some small part of herself had remained a child, cherished and adored. Perhaps you never completely grew up until your mother died.”