Discovering Sister Mary Corita Kent in Boston

Corita2

ArtistSISTER MARY CORITA KENT returned to my attention, August, 2009 in Boston while I was browsing monographs on artists and designers in Brattle Book Shop. I picked up a large format book in a black binding with a beautiful white signature, “Corita.” Born 1918, in Fort Dodge, Iowa; Frances Kent moved to Vancouver in 1920 and Los Angeles in 1922. Entering the Sisters of Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1936 as Sister Mary Corita, she attended Immaculate Heart College, and received her Masters Degree in Art History from the University of Southern California in 1951. Sister Corita taught art and was Chair at Immaculate Heart College until 1968. She left the Order in 1968 and moved to Boston to practice as a designer and artist. A lifelong social activist, Mary Kent developed a loyal following of luminaries such as, Buckminster Fuller, Charles and Ray Eames, Ben Shahn, and Daniel and Philip Berrigan. Buckminster Fuller described his visit to her classes as “among the most fundamentally inspiring experiences of my life.” On Sept. 18, 1986 Corita finally lost her battle with cancer and died in her own home. Visit The Corita Art Center online. I’m saddened that I looked at her only briefly many years ago but gratified about my discovery of this beautiful monograph. I also discovered a book by Sister Mary Corita and just placed the order. Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit.

Winter Imaginings, Auschwitz-Birkenau

Numbers

EACH WINTER I can’t help but imagine bitter freezing cold, little or no food, absolute loneliness and unanswered prayers for modest humane conditions. Pouring through images of the Holocaust for more than fifty years only creates darker visions that seem to hover permanently in the corners of my mind. I recently came across Rishi Sankar’s Ah Trini Travelogue with haunting pictures of winter at Auschwitz-Birkenau. A picture of stiff uniforms sans bodies pushed me to search for an abandoned work never completed.

Uniforms2The morbid parade of marching uniforms was originally designed as a memorial display. I searched almost endlessly for a marionette-like figure I collaged together for an unresolved poster left in a folder more than five years ago. I plucked out one imaginary cousin from the photograph and placed a warm pair of boots on a bodiless uniform. Those boots became a tangible object freeing me to move on and remember. The Hebrew translation into English tell us, Six million Jewish men, women and children were murdered. Of course we’ve heard this before but we continue to bare witness and ask why.

Kristallnacht 75th Memorial

Kristal_75

THE NEW YORK TIMES reported the events of Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass 75 years ago on November 11, 1938. The lives of German and Austrian Jews were forever changed. After two days of rioting and terror, 1000 synagogues were burned, 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed, 96 Jews were killed and hundreds injured. Approximately 30,000 Jewish men and boys were deported to concentration camps. The cost of the destruction was 5 million marks approximately 1 million dollars. To make matters worse, the Nazis forced the Jews to pay for all of the damages. It is very interesting to note that the reports by the New York Times and other news venues were read by millions, somehow the events of November 9 and 10, 1938 failed to resonate with civilized people inside and outside of Germany. Newspaper journalism and reporting in the first third of the 20th century was state-of-the-art, “the news traveled fast.” Would there be a difference between print media in the 30s and contemporary social media today? The horrible atrocities elicited no call-to-action. American luminaries such as, Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh (also New York Times headliners) were more than happy to align themselves with Hitler, the Nazis and anti-Semitism. Unfortunately The Night of Broken Glass is timeless and remains a night of recurring silence.

Caught you looking.

billboard

CAUGHT YOU LOOKING, but at what? Emerging and smaller organizations seem hell bent on throwing money at the clouds with ferver and excitement. They fail to realize that building a loyal and sustainable customer base rarely takes place 50 feet above our heads. Billboard advertising is strictly for the big boys, established brands don’t worry about text-heavy copy, websites or phone numbers—they simply serve up memorable icons and minimal positioning statements years in the making.

Phone

The Arbitron In-Car National Study, 2009 indicated that we spend 20 hours per week traveling 200 miles in our car. We have plenty of time to look but do we take the time to act? This study (the most recent available) is light years out of date when we consider the explosion of smartphone technology and other portable media. According to Arbitron, only 26% of us will take note of a phone number or website. Most drivers and passengers stuck in a traffic jam will not be looking skyward, they will most likely be starring in their lap fully engaged with texting or email. Advertising would need to fall on their heads to attract attention.

If billboards are a waste of advertising dollars then surely this message on a transit car ceiling wins the prize. Traveling the same route every day, few people notice this cute statement and fewer rush to set up a media buy. Businesses and organizations need to think strategically and tactically before embarking on campaigns positioned over our heads or up in the clouds.

Report from Boston

BRYNNA BLOOMFIELD, Boston scenic designer and educator is reporting here on the dark events of April 15.

It’s a gorgeous day, blue, not too hot, a fine breeze. On most days, you sweat away in a tiny workshop. Perhaps your weeks  are a continuous blur of patients and their woes.  Maybe you are forever cooped up with a computer, a client, and a deadline.  You might be the girl with the beautiful smile who hands us our coffee with a quip.  Or, you toil tirelessly, keeping other peoples’ homes or rooms clean. You may be the 24/7 parent, overwhelmed by appointments and carpools, with no thought for your own needs. Whatever you do, you work hard.

Today, though, is your day to forget the other days. You are out with your pals and you are all laughing at the sharp remarks the wittiest one in the pack is making.

There are some people who think that you do not have the right to this day.

You do have the right to your beautiful day. You are a wonderful person, with hopes and talents and flaws. You make love and you make mistakes. Live. Your. Life.

Gun Deaths Since Newtown

Gun_Lobby3

NEWTOWN offers no new lessons regarding gun violence in America. No one really has a definitive answer. If the NRA is promoting an armed  guard in every school, then why not every hospital, day care center, nursing home, grocery store, movie theater, concert hall—the list is endless. Does this mean there should be armed protection everywhere we go from the time of our birth until the time we pass on? If we have the right to keep and bear arms, then perhaps weapons like the AK-47 should be available for purchase in the very same locations previously listed. Realistically these rapid-fire objects of desire will become so prevalent that all of us who survive will bury a father, mother, brother or sister.

Deaths

CLICK ON THIS GRAPH to see a compelling interactive information graphic published in partnership with  Slate to lean the names, ages, locations and dates of new deaths. Since this summer, an anonymous creator of the Twitter feed @GunDeaths has been doing his best to compile those statistics, tweeting every reported death he can find. We might all agree that knowledge is power and potentially work by artists, designers, information architects, musicians, writers and dancers may have the capacity to transform negative and violent behaviors.

Night of Broken Glass and the New York Times

THE NEW YORK TIMES reported the events of Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass 74 years ago on November 11, 1938. The lives of German and Austrian Jews were forever changed. After two days of rioting and terror, 1000 synagogues were burned, 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed, 96 Jews were killed and hundreds injured. Approximately 30,000 Jewish men and boys were deported to concentration camps. The cost of the destruction was 5 million marks approximately 1 million dollars. To make matters worse, the Nazis forced the Jews to pay for all of the damages. It is very interesting to note that the reports by the New York Times and other news venues were read by millions, somehow the events of November 9 and 10, 1938 failed to resonate with civilized people inside and outside of Germany. Newspaper journalism and reporting in the first third of the 20th century was state-of-the-art, “the news traveled fast.” Would there be a difference between print media in the 30s and contemporary social media today? The horrible atrocities elicited no call-to-action. American luminaries such as, Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh (also New York Times headliners) were more than happy to align themselves with Hitler, the Nazis and anti-Semitism. Unfortunately The Night of Broken Glass is timeless and remains a night of recurring silence.



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