Having only taken a few inept family photos and one pretty bad class in photojournalism at Northwestern University before I applied for admission into the graduate program in photography at the Institute of Design at IIT, I was lucky to get in. At the time I had no idea that the program, founded by Moholy-Nagy of the Bauhaus, was legendary. Nor had I any idea that it was tremendously influential in how serious photograph had and would evolved in the second half of the twentieth century. Ignorant as I was, my passion for photography fit happily into the intense, experimental practice that the program demanded.
In 2002, the Art Institute of Chicago put together an exhibition titled Taken By Design, Photographs from the Institute of Design, 1937—2001, a visual history with essays. I was included in that show. A Lasting Vision: Photographs from the Institute of Design 1970—2001, picks up where Taken By Design left off. In 2001 the graduate program in photography was shut down. I’m looking forward to seeing the work of those with whom I was trained as a thinker and a photographer.
The exhibition A Lasting Vision opens on Friday, July 31 at Crown Hall, 3360 South State Street, Chicago, IL and will run for several weeks. A catalogue will be available.
The maelstrom around the publication of Harper Lee’s Go Set the Watchman (2015), a novel set in a time after that in her To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), has proven how essential books are. Go Set the Watchman was published fifty-five years after Mockingbird, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and became one of the most revered books in America. The book and the movie made from it, starring Gregory Peck as the honorable Atticus Finch, became a phenomenon. Mockingbird appeared on required reading lists, communities read it together. Readers identified with Scout or Jem or Atticus, or with life at that time in small town America. Go Set the Watchmen, which takes place years later, portrays a very different Atticus, an old, bitter racist. Today’s sages are weighing in. What do these two books reveal about race in America? Which book is more honest? Was it a mistake to publish Go Set? Was Harper Lee’s editor at Lippincott, the publisher of Mockingbird, a vital creative force? Was Lee manipulated into publishing a second-rate novel? What greedy forces are behind the publication of a novel that is sure to undermine the aura of the first book? That two novels have created so much debate and conversation is exciting. In a time when we are deluged with information from sources that are quickly eclipsed by other sources, it is heartening to see two novels prove how central books can be to our cultural life.