The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore has recently announced that it has acquired a previously unknown picture of Edmonia Lewis, a sculptor who was Harriet Hosmer’s contemporary in Rome. The museum’s Deputy Director of Audience Engagement Jacqueline Copeland came across the image in a box of photographs in an antique shop and recognized the artist. Copeland will discuss finding the image at a brown bag lunch on Feb. 7.
The photograph is not the most astounding Lewis discovery–her sculpture Cleopatra was found in the storage room of a mall! And Marilyn Richardson only discovered her date and place of death two years ago.
On a less happy not, in Ken Burn’s Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson there is a reference to African-American artists that is illustrated by a picture that I think is clearly meant to be Lewis. But is a picture of Vinnie Ream, a white woman who was another sculptor who passed through Rome. And Lewis’s birthplace is still unknown. (At least I think, unless there has been another Lewis discovery).
Thanks to Sandra Payne for alerting me to the discovery of the photo.
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Jody Culkin, a New York City artist and also my aunt, has a show at the BOCA Museum of Art. As the museum website explains, “Jody Culkin: Refashioned subverts traditional functions of women’s apparel by creating quirky, ironic faux-utilitarian clothing and accessories which question whether fashion entraps or liberates women – or both.” Book21Cal has a ton of great pictures of the exhibit on Flickr. I wish I could see it in person!
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I spent last weekend at the Society for the Study of Women Writers (SSAWW) conference, which is held every three years. This was probably one of the best–maybe the best?–conference I have attended. It is a literature conference, but with a focus on historical context. Almost every panel I went to was interesting and intellectually stimulating. And the other attendees, including very well known academics, were friendly and helpful. Just wonderful.
Closer to home, I am a member of the Women Writing Women Lives Seminar (WWWL), which is made up of an inspiring group of feminist biographers who meet one a month during the academic year. Twice a year, the group also sponsors a works-in-progress lecture at the CUNY Graduate Center. This October 29, Diane Jacobs will speak about her The Lives of Abigail Adams and Her Sisters: Threefold Cord. I’ve always wanted to know more about Adams, who often seems to get reduced to her “Remember the Ladies” comment. (Not that the quote isn’t great.) 4-6 PM, 365 5th Avenue, Room 9204.
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In the last month, several of my close friends and warm acquaintances have been mentioned in the New York Times. I am proud of them all.
Perri Klass praised Jennifer Hart, aka Book Club Girl, for her work in reissuing the Betcy-Tacy series, calling her the “heroine” of the annual Betsy-Tacy convention. (And I urge anyone who grew up loving Laura Ingells Wilder to give the world created by Maud Hart Lovelace a try).
Scott Korb, who was my colleague at the Harriet Jacobs Papers, contributed a fascinating article about Jacobs’ work as a reporter in Washington at the beginning of the Civil War to the Times’ Disunion series about the Civil War. (And that is the second time this year Jacobs has been featured in the NY Times).
William deJong-Lambert, a fellow Bronx Community College history professor, and his wife Cheryl were featured in the article “Where to Go Outside and Play in New York City.” This summer, the deJong-Lamberts published Outdoors with Kids New York City: 100 Fun Places to Explore In and Around New York City.
And finally, Paul Thureen’s theater company The Debate Society was the subject of a laudatory piece titled “Old Friends Whose Past is Always Present.” The company’s new production Blood Play is now in previews the Bushwick Starr.
Congratulations, one and all.
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I have been from this blog for too long. Hopefully, this post will be the start of more regular updates.
I was excited to read about Jim Down’s forthcoming book Sick from Freedom in the New York Times this week. The book addresses the health crises which freed people faced after the Civil War. As press material for the volume explains, “With emancipation, African Americans seized the chance to move, migrating as never before. But in their journey to freedom, they also encountered yellow fever, smallpox, cholera, dysentery, malnutrition, and exposure.” This book forms an important part of our ever-evolving understanding of Reconstruction. I may show my students this article in the fall to help them understand historiography. (Another good book which complicates our understanding of this time is Ronald E. Butchart’s Schooling the Freed People: Teaching, Learning and the Struggle for Black Freedom, 1861-1876, which I reviewed for the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society last year.)
Downs’ interest in this project was inspired in part by his work on the Harriet Jacobs Papers. I joined the HJ team after he had left, so we never crossed paths, except when I used his research reports to write annotation. I do wish the Times had mentioned that the papers had been published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2008, and that the volumes include important annotation about disease in the post-emancipation South. (Instead, the article links to the kind-of-clunky website I helped put together in 2002, which has my name in the web address. It looked ok for the time!) But it was still good to see Harriet Jacobs mentioned.
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I will be speaking about Harriet Hosmer at Cedar Crest College on Friday March 23 at 1 PM. I’m very excited, especially as it was arranged by one of my Harriet Jacobs Family Papers colleagues, who in addition to being an excellent researcher also blogs about beer. (A great combo of credentials, I think.) Introducing students at an all women college to Harriet Hosmer seems like an appropriate way to celebrate women’s history month.
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Marie J. Kuda has written a nice review of Harriet Hosmer: A Cultural Biography on Lambda Literary. I especially appreciate the fact that Kuda puts the book in the context of the larger historical project of uncovering “the female enclaves buried under patriarchal scholarship.” And, to be immodest, of course I like this: “Culkin has added a highly readable, well annotated study to the increasing pantheon of creative lesbians supported by networks of friends and lovers.”
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