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.
by Juhi Singhal Karan
We asked five bloomers for the best, the most helpful piece of writing advice that they’d received. Here in their own words is the bit of writing wisdom that has stayed with them over the years.
About 25 years ago, when I confessed to my intense activist friend that I wanted to write stories, instead of saying “how silly” or “the world doesn’t need more fiction,” she said, “Read this:” Becoming a Writer, by Dorothea Brande, originally published in 1934, and reclaimed from history’s dustbin in the ’80s by John Gardner. I dove in. Brande asserts that the writer needs to recognize that she has two sides: the child-like enthusiast, who is intuitive and sensitive, and the elder critic, who is discerning and knowledgeable. The enthusiast believes her ideas are fresh and exciting, that her writing is important. The elder doubts it. She points out the many problems. The two neither like nor trust one other. Keep them apart, says Brande. A writer should give full rein to the enthusiast, believing in every word she sets down, then call in the elder for revision. Again and again.
Separate these two sides of writing—this advice freed me. Wanting to retrieve Brande’s exact words, I searched my shelves, but her book is gone. I hope I passed it on to a beginning writer.