Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving

A Pilgrim's Progress, Norman Rockwell, Life Magazine Cover, 1921

Illustrator Norman Rockwell is almost synonymous with a classic American Thanksgiving. Rockwell began illustrating magazines when he was 16 years old and went on to create a prolific career painting a total of 321 covers for The Saturday Evening Post.

Norman Rockwell, Saturday Evening Post, 1943

Freedom From Want, the painting that illustrates what we mean when we say "A Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving" was part of Rockwell's Four Freedoms series. In 1943, during some of the darkest days of World War II, Rockwell was inspired to paint this popular series by a speech that Franklin Roosevelt gave to congress. The paintings were first published in consecutive issues of the Post each accompanied by an essay written by a contemporary writer of the time. The prints later toured the country raising over 130 million dollars for the war effort in war bond sales. In 1977 Rockwell was awarded the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

British American Colonial Harvest Jug

This Devon Harvest Jug pictured here was made by Micheal L. Burrey. Burrey apprenticed with the Master Potter at Plimoth Plantation before traveling to England to learn from potters who still practice the old techniques. He uses a kick-wheel and a 1600s style draft kiln. The Devon Harvest Jug is featured on the website Keepers of Tradition.

 Devon Harvest Jug, Michael L. Burrey, Traditional Colonial American /English Pottery, 1999

Like the Wampanoag Cooking Pot (see previous post) made in the style of the First Thanksgiving's Native Americans this Colonial American style harvest jug also describes the four directions.

 Devon Harvest Jug Detail, Michael L. Burrey, Traditional Colonial American /English Pottery, 1999

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Combat Paper Project

It's Veterans Day today and while there is a vast body of history painting of battlefields I wanted to look at artwork created by Veterans themselves. Though these works on handmade paper veterans working with the Combat Paper Project transform their own uniforms into paper expressions reflecting their experience of war.

got one piece of art done... when i was 6, all i wanted for christmas was my daddy to come home from war... 
he came home on christmas eve:) i printed the pic on some paper i made at my workshop 
with the combat papermakers. ~ Jessica Lynn Hartle

The Combat Paper Project utilizes artmaking workshops to assist veterans in reconciling and sharing their personal experiences as well as broadening the traditional narrative surrounding service and the military culture.

Through papermaking workshops veterans use their uniforms worn in combat to create cathartic works of art. The uniforms are cut up, beaten into a pulp and formed into sheets of paper. Veterans use the transformative process of papermaking to reclaim their uniform as art and begin to embrace their experiences in the military.  
~ From the Combat Paper Project website

We Are All Free Now, Drew Cameron, Iraq Currency on Combat Paper with abaca, 2008

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In Wetu, Wampanoag Cooking Pot

With Thanksgiving coming in a few weeks I began wondering how the American pilgrims might have been influenced by the Wampanoag tribal people, the people they shared that legendary harvest feast with, the feast we now call Thanksgiving. Certainly the Pilgrim's cuisine was influenced. They would have starved if they had not learned to cultivate corn, squash and beans. Some of them did starve. If the Wampanoag shared their food with the pilgrims could it have been in a beautiful pot such as this?

In Wetu, Cooking Pot, Ramona Louise Peters, Wampanoag pottery, 2001
photo: Jason Dowdle

I found Wampanoag artist Ramona Louise Peters on the website Keepers of Tradition: Useful Things Made Beautiful created by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Peters is inspired by the material culture of her ancestors before European contact. This pot is in the style of a 1600's Wampanoag cooking pot. It would have been used in a single family dwelling called a Wetu. The white inlay was to help locate the pot by firelight in the Wetu. The four points represent the four directions.