oberlin ohio

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“Do a lot of little things - it’s better than large things.”

Postcard from Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse, New York, New York, postmarked July 2, 1966

All postcard images courtesy of Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio.  Eva Hesse Archive, Gift of Helen Hesse Charash.  © The Eva Hesse Estate. Courtsey Hauser & Wirth  © Estate of Sol LeWitt/ Artist Rights Society (ARS)

Cleveland only (2)
Young Monet’s realism
The exhibition ‘Painting the Modern Garden, Monet to Matisse’ was first organised by the Cleveland Museum of Art, before it moved to the Royal Academy in London. I would have loved to see this one in the RA too, but it was only shown in Cleveland…

Claude Monet, Le jardin de la princesse (The Graden of the Princess), 1867. Oil on canvas, 91,8 x 61,9 cm. Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio

Anna Julia Cooper

Anna J. Cooper in North Carolina, USA into an enslaved family in 1858. When she was 9 years old, she received a scholarship that allowed her to attend Saint Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institution, which had been founded by the local Episcopal diocese with the intent of training teachers to teach former slaves and their families. Her education was partially funded by a Reverend and she studied there for 14 years, fighting for the opportunity to take higher-level courses that women were discouraged from taking. Upon completing her education, she remained at the school to teach for five years, before attending Oberlin College in Ohio. She earned her Master of the Arts in Mathematics in 1887, then moved to Washington DC where she became a school principal by 1901. While teaching in DC, Cooper wrote her book A Voice from the South, which is considered one of the “first articulations of Black feminism.” She also presented a paper at the World’s Congress of Representative Women entitled “The Intellectual Progress of the Colored Women of the United States since the Emancipation Proclamation” in 1893, and in 1900 presented “The Negro Problem in America” at the first Pan-African conference in Paris. In 1914, Cooper began pursuing her doctorate degree, but ran into some obstacles, graduating with her PhD in 1924 from the University of Paris, becoming only the 4th African-American woman to obtain a doctorate degree. 

Cooper was clearly a visionary, blazing the trail for many African-American women and arguing for revolutionary ideas at the time, such as the intersecting oppressions of race and gender. She lived to be 105, and the United States has posthumously included a quote from her in our passport books, and released a commemorative stamp in her honor. 

Want to know more? Check out: 

  • A Voice from the South by Anna Julia Cooper 
  • Anna Julia Cooper and Black Women’s Intellectual Tradition: Race, Gender and Nation in the Making of a Modern Race Woman, 1892–1925 by Errol Browne
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Postcards from Converging Lines: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt (February 23 – May 18, 2014), Blanton Museum of Art. Celebrating the close friendship between two of the most significant American artists of the post-war era: Eva Hesse (1936–1970) and Sol LeWitt (1928–2007).

All postcard images courtesy of Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio.  Eva Hesse Archive, Gift of Helen Hesse Charash.  © The Eva Hesse Estate. Courtsey Hauser & Wirth  © Estate of Sol LeWitt/ Artist Rights Society (ARS) 

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To accompany Converging Lines: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt, this exhibition-specific tumblr will publish many of the postcards sent between LeWitt, Hesse, and their contemporaries, as well as featuring written perspectives from the exhibition curator’s Veronica Roberts and others. To introduce the project, Veronica ruminates on the personal correspondence between these two artists.

Just as LeWitt’s wall drawings have been keeping art students around the world busy for nearly fifty years, the copious number of postcards and letters he wrote kept the United States Postal Service in business; (no wonder the post office is not doing so well these days.) Thirty-nine particularly special postcards that LeWitt wrote Hesse are reproduced in the exhibition and its catalogue. They are thoughtful, funny, and charming—classic Sol. And being the artist he was, he thought carefully about all of its ingredients: the image on the postcard, the message inside—even the stamp he used.

LeWitt’s dry sense of humor really come through in the postcards he dispatched Hesse from around the globe. He sent her an image of Moroccan sand dunes, lobster traps in Maine, and a roaring hippopotamus in the Netherlands. One of my personal favorites is a Smithsonian Museum postcard of an Egyptian mummy bull. (Well, according to the postcard, it’s a bull; it looks a more like a bunny to me.) Wrapped in bandages with just its eyes revealed, it looks like a cross between a rabbit possessed by the devil and an early Christo sculpture. On the back, he wrote a succinct, tongue-in-cheek message: “Dear Eva, I hope this doesn’t scare you.” 

As a curator, I love reading the personal correspondence of artists but I know my attachment to them goes deeper than that. I know part of the reason I’m drawn to them is to see how clearly devoted Sol and Eva were to each other as friends, always making the time to remind each other of this in ways small and big. And I know I personally respond to them because I too have always enjoyed writing letters and receiving them. People seem to appreciate receiving handwritten letters now more than ever, in part, I’m convinced, because we are drowning in the irritating efficiency of emails, which pile up like car wrecks. Unlike emails, which insist upon a response, letters are gifts with no expectations attached—a chance to say something kind without causing someone to blush or requiring anything in return. 

All postcard images courtesy of Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio.  Eva Hesse Archive, Gift of Helen Hesse Charash.  © The Eva Hesse Estate. Courtsey Hauser & Wirth  © Estate of Sol LeWitt/ Artist Rights Society (ARS)

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100 LGBTQ Black Women You Should Know (4/100) from top left to right: 

  • Angelina Weld Grimké (1880-1958), Journalist / Teacher / Poet / Playwright Harlem Renaissance writer Grimké, who was biracial (her father was the second African-American to graduate from Harvard Law), was one of the first African-American women to have a play performed publicly. Of that play, The NAACP said, ”This is the first attempt to use the stage for race propaganda in order to enlighten the American people relating to the lamentable condition of ten millions of Colored citizens in this free republic.” At 16, she wrote a letter to her female friend Mamie Burrile in which she declared, “I know you are too young now to become my wife, but I hope, darling, that in a few years you will come to me and be my love, my wife!” Modern literary critics who have analyzed Grimké’s work have found “strong evidence” that she was lesbian or bisexual.
  • Ruby Dandridge (1900-1987), Actress. In addition to being the mother of the legendary actress Dorothy Dandridge, bisexual actress Ruby Dandridge was a prominent radio actress, best known for her role on Amos ‘n Andy. Her “companion” Geneva Williams lived with The Dandridges after Ruby and her husband Cyril divorced.
  • Edmonia “Wildfire” Lewis (1844-1907), Sculptor. This African-Haitian-Ojibwe Native American sculptor was born in New York and began studying art at Oberlin in Ohio, one of the first universities to accept women and non-white people, and later began sculpting in Boston. She showed her work internationally and spent most of her career in Rome. The National Gay History Project notes that “she is considered one of a few African-American artists to develop a fan base that crossed racial, ethnic and national boundaries — and the first to develop a reputation as an acclaimed sculptor, which would later give her access to circles that generally excluded people of color and women.”
  • Marsha P Johnson (1944-1992), Activist / Artist. Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman, co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R) with Sylvia Rivera, where she was known as the house “mother,” getting food and clothing to help support the young drag queens and trans women living in the house on the Lower East Side of New York  and was one of the leaders in clashes with police at the Stonewall Riots.  She was also a popular figure in New York City’s gay and art scene from the 1960s to the 1990s. 

Antoinette Brown Blackwell

Antoinette Brown Blackwell was born in New York, USA in 1825. She was accepted to the Congregational Church at the age of 9, and later attended Oberlin College in Ohio where she earned a degree in literary studies. In 1847, after graduating, she asked to attend the school for a theological degree, but the administration would not allow it on the basis that she was a woman. She was persistent, however, and they ended up settling on a compromise that allowed her to enroll in all the classes, but without any formal recognition. She pursued this education, and then took a break to travel and speak on abolition and women’s rights. She wrote for Frederick Douglass’s abolitionist paper, and spoke at the first National Women’s Rights Convention in 1850. She was finally given a license to preach in 1851 and offered a position as Minister in a New York church. She was ordained by a Methodist Minister who was committed to women’s theological rights, but eventually was unable to continue preaching due to personal and economical issues and returned home in 1857. 

Brown Blackwell remained passionate about women’s rights, and about achieving change within the church by remaining in the church. In 1860, she attended the National Women’s Rights Convention again, and was one of the only women to vote for the 14th amendment regardless of its omission of giving women the right to vote, demonstrating her commitment to other issues, such as racism. She briefly removed herself from religious activities, but returned to the church in 1878 as a Unitarian and preached in the Unitarian church. In 1920, Brown Blackwell was the only living member of the original Convention to get to see the 19th amendment passed, and at age 95, she was able to vote in the presidential election. 

Want to know more? Check out: 

The Sexes Throughout Nature by Antoinette Brown Blackwell

“A Documentary History of Religion in America Since 1877″ - documentary by Edwin Gaustwad

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Postcard from Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson to Eva Hesse, postmarked July 10, 1967

All postcard images courtesy of Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio.  Eva Hesse Archive, Gift of Helen Hesse Charash.  © The Eva Hesse Estate. Courtsey Hauser & Wirth  © Estate of Sol LeWitt/ Artist Rights Society (ARS)

Eva Hesse, no title, 1965

ink and pencil on paper
8-¼ x 5-7/8 in.
Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio
Gift of Helen Hesse Charash, 1977
© The Estate of Eva Hesse, Hauser & Wirth Zürich London