Taking Your Daughter Down History Lane

October 8, 2014 at 2:19 pm

history_museumThe history of one’s country is an important knowledge to have. It is part of schools’ curriculums, taught every year in elementary, high school, and covered by some subjects in college. Yet even though this topic is so important, not every kid knows the colorful account of her own country’s past.

We can point to various reasons for this lack of interest in history, but it mostly boils to one thing: students find history boring. For history buffs, this may be surprising to hear – each country has such a vibrant past, with stories worth keeping and telling, passed on from one generation to the next. However, the fact remains that the human attention span is very limited. As stated in this article, some experts say that the average attention span is no more than 10 minutes and that would even be cut shorter if one has no genuine interest in the object of one’s attention.

A reason for this disinterest may be due to how history is taught. Lessons are focused on specific details – precise dates, correct spellings of towns and capitals, middle names of significant people – rather than the concept of how the events came to happen in the first place. If teachers focus on the smaller stuff rather than the bigger picture, students will continue on being ignorant on the story of how the current world situation came to be.

How then can history be made interesting for children? One of the methods to teach children history is through books. Reading and talking about history through books made for children will capture their interest. There are available books that tackle almost any historical topic, and there are historical fiction books that promote multiple perspectives and shed light to the everyday life that people back then lived. These historical fiction can help your child relate to little girls in different eras and will help her analyze how different people lived various lifestyles, giving her a wider perspective on the world.

Museums and historical sites that show tangible evidence of the past are also all around us. A trip to historical cities will help your kids put a place and face to the books she’d been reading. It is an awesome way to let kids experience the past visually, by showing landmarks that have a significant meaning to history. Museums are literally everywhere. In the US alone, according to this website, there is a total of no less than 17,500 museums.

Relate to the kids as well. At their age, they will be fond of things that hold their attention, and these things are usually toys. In the unlikely case that your daughter has no interest in reading your suggested books, or gets bored when you go to the historical sites, try reaching out through the toys she plays with. The American Girl Company sells American Girl dolls, a line of 18-inch dolls that represent historical characters of various ethnicities living in different time periods. Each doll has a back-story that will surely get your child’s interest, all told in a book that you can buy with it.

Reading and playing with the dolls will help teaching sessions with child more fun. With stories told from these young dolls’ points-of-view, your daughter will have an easier time understanding important historical topics. Admittedly, these educational dolls do not come cheap. If you’re worried about the price tag, you can always print some American Girl coupons from this site, and you’re on your way to saving money on your purchase.

It is a personal obligation of each citizen to know of their country’s histories, but adults can certainly make a way for the lessons to be more captivating. This way, we can help the next generation fulfill their own moral and civic duty to their country, simply by knowing their past.

Baby Boomers: What It’s Like To Remember The Past

September 24, 2014 at 5:04 pm

babyboomer.jpgWhat was life like for you when you were growing up? Baby boomers grew up in a fascinating period of history filled with societal upheavals, major changes in how cultures and communities fostered relationships, and a lot of developments in music and the arts. Baby boomers, classified as those born between the mid-1940’s to the early years of the 1960’s, were part of a massive increase in population after World War II. The baby boom generation is also often considered as the best-educated and healthiest generation in history. If you are not too familiar with how the phrase “baby boomers” came about, you can read this informative article.

If you are a baby boomer, you probably look back with fondness at the major events that shaped history when you were growing up. Of course, because the world was picking up the pieces after another major world war, there was a lot of transition going on all around society, but a lot of opportunities as well as nations tried to return to normalcy and readjust to peacetime.

You probably remember this period when the “American Dream” was first mentioned and became an ideal for a lot of people. As soldiers and military personnel returned home, they reunited with their families or started their own, and there was a nationwide perseverance to uplift one’s economic situation and strive towards a better life. Migration to areas in the northeast, the east coast, and the west coast became a way of life for many attracted by the plentiful job opportunities in these locations.

The baby boom years also contributed greatly to the rise of suburbia. As cities became more crowded, attracting millions of migrants from elsewhere, urban populations began to spread outward, and outlying towns and communities soon absorbed the influx of new residents who worked in the city during the day but lived in the suburbs with their families. Suburbs grew to become part of the American Dream as well, with baby boomers looking at a quiet suburban home as their ultimate goal.

Suburbs transformed sleepy bedroom communities into vibrant population centers on their own, thanks to the rise of the shopping mall, another product of this period in history. People began to troop to the malls and shopping centers for their consumer needs, and malls began to offer anything and everything that shoppers would want, all in one place. Mom-and-pop retail stores soon faced stiff competition from big-box retailers with nationwide delivery and production.

During the ’50’s, movies officially became the favorite form of entertainment, whether it was at the neighborhood drive-in theater, the new cineplexes, or through the television. As entertainment became more affordable and accessible to the masses, households were soon tuning in to their favorite serials and news programs on the television, replacing radio. Radio did not completely disappear, of course, as rock music became the major cultural driving force of the ’60’s. If you need a more in-depth discussion about the baby boom history, you can visit this page.

Children of the baby boom years remember the many national events that shaped our society to this day, with the rapid changes in civil rights, the uncertainty of the Cold War, and the space era.  As you look back at those years, you might understandably feel the need to call your friends and family members who were also around at that time to share your memories and swap stories . It would be useful to take a look at some of the cell phone plans for seniors listed here so you can stay in touch with your fellow baby boomers and relive those days when you were growing up.

Eldzier Cortor: African American Artist Extraordinaire

August 22, 2014 at 1:32 pm

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An uncompromising artist with a singular vision, Eldzier Cortor has celebrated the beauty and spiritual strength of black women in his painting and lithographs for more than five decades.

He was born on January 10, 1916, in Richmond, Virginia. His father was a self-taught electrician who moved his family to Chicago, Illinois, when Eldzier was still an infant. The senior Cortar opened a grocery store and appliance repair shop with his wife and later became one of the first black pilots in the United States. His son began copying comic strips as a boy and aspired to become a cartoonist. At Englewood High School, he met fellow student CHARLES WHITE, another future African-American artist.

Cortor dropped out of high school and went to work to help support his family. He continued, however, to pursue his interest in art in evening drawing classes at the Chicago Art Institute. He was finally able to attend the institute full-time at the age of 25. A white teacher from Texas exposed him to the exquisite sculpture of Africa and helped convince Cortor to pursue fine art. After finishing school he went to work in 1937 on federal arts projects for the Works Progress Administration. He also taught art at the South Side Community Arts Center.

Cortor was awarded a Rosenwald Fellowship and used the money to travel to the Sea Islands off the South Carolina coast. Here he lived among the native African Americans called Gullah, who had strong cultural ties to Africa. About this time he abandoned his earlier abstract art for a more representational style of painting that focused on African-American people. He later moved to New York and studied at the National Institute of Design and Columbia University, where he learned woodblock printing. Cortor mastered the art of lithography, in which prints are made from an original work of art. This allowed him to sell inexpensive copies of one painting and freed him from having to work with galleries to sell his artwork.

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Cortor began to create the stunning, statuesque nude black women that he is best known for. Heavily influenced by African sculpture, his paintings of nudes have the shape and weight of sculptures with their full, elongated bodies. These strong women sometimes appeared within the crowded, sordid confines of an urban apartment. Rather than make them less noble, such surroundings only brought their power and dignity to the fore.

A photograph of one of Cortor’s paintmgs appeared in Life magazine in 1946 and brought him national attention. It also earned him a Guggenheim Fellowship, which allowed him to travel to the West Indian islands of Cuba, Jamaica, and Haiti. He fell in love with the African-derived culture of Haiti and remained there for two years, teaching drawing at the Haitian Centre d’Art in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

On his return to the States, Cortor lived in Chicago and then New York City. When sales of his paintings fell off during the politically conservative 1950s, he lived in Mexico for several years. Returning to the United States, he grew tired of the politics involved in dealing with art galleries and sold his lithographs directly through the Associated American Artists of New York. The only other avenue for his work is competitive, juried museum shows. Eldzier Cortor has remained faithful to his nudes, which he refers to as his “classical compositions,” and has not changed his style to take advantage of current arttrends and fashions.

He created paintings that he has said “can fit into any period—not locked into a style that will go out of date … I very carefully try to keep things from being the latest style—the latest thing.”

Back in 1940, he said, “I want to paint, never reach any set goals, always work towards an ideal.” Now in his 90s, Eldzier Cortor is still working toward that ideal.

 

Further Reading

Bearden, Romare, and Harry Henderson. A History of African-American Artists: From 1792 to thePresent. New York: Pantheon Books, 1993, pp. 272-279.

“Eldzier Corter.” http://Answers.com . Available online. URL: http://www.answers.com/topic/eldziercortor . Downloaded March 3, 2009.

Riggs, Thomas, ed. St. James Guide to Black Artists. Detroit, Mich.: St. James Press, 1997, p. 121.

Robinson, jontyle Theresa, David Driskell and Others. Three Masters: Eldzier Cortor, Hughie Lee-Smith, Archibald John Motley Jr. New York: Kenkeleba Gallery, 1988.

 

The Vibrant Art and Culture of The 60’s

June 20, 2013 at 10:10 pm

60's ArtAs with many parts of society, art in the 1960s was characterized by a reaction to the popular styles of the previous decade and a radical departure from the status quo. Nowhere is this pattern more evident than in the pop art movement. Claes Oldenburg, Allan Kaprow, Lucas Samaras, and Andy Warhol were some of the influential artists that aspired to blur the lines between art and life. The first three helped popularize “happenings,” which combined the visual arts, performance, and audience participation. Yoko Ono’s “Cut Piece,” for example, involved members of the audience cutting away parts of her clothing with scissors. Andy Warhol, along with Roy Lichtenstein and others, co-opted images from popular culture and society to comment on the disposability of consumerism. Warhol’s famous silk screens of Campbell’s soup cans, Marilyn Monroe, and Jackie Kennedy, and Lichtenstein’s use of cartoon and comic styles are just some examples.

Moreover, pop artists, in contrast to their predecessors, not only understood the power of mass media but also eagerly courted it. The impact was twofold: people who were not normally interested in art were exposed to the works of these artists (thus bypassing New York’s art critics), and the artists became well known in their own right. Andy Warhol was able to branch out into films (“Sleep” consisted of six hours of a person sleeping) and multimedia events, such as his work with Nico and the Velvet Underground, a Greenwich Village art rock band.

On the heels of pop art came minimalism, an additional deconstruction of the concept of what constitutes art. Painters such as Frank Stella, Robert Mangold, and Al Held produced works that were characterized by very simple lines and colors; in some cases, just one color on a canvas. In the area of sculpture, minimalism used works that utilized geometric shapes and repetition of simple themes. Often the emphasis of minimalist art was to challenge the audience’s perception of the work against its surroundings. Donald Judd, for instance, had an installation of hollow concrete boxes placed around and throughout a small town in Texas.

Eccentric abstraction and anti-form continued the deconstruction of the traditional concept of art. The former used flexible materials to form curved shapes and stressed the visceral, sensual reaction to the pieces (Phillips 1999 , 181). Anti-form used lead, rubber, neon, and other components; sometimes the pieces were so large that they could not be housed in galleries. The Earthworks movement was the next logical step in the progression. Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty was a 1,500-foot rock pathway constructed in a lake in Utah. Christo and Jeanne-Claude covered more than 1 million square feet of coastline in Sydney, Australia, with fabric. For obvious reasons, photographs became the only surviving representation of these works. Toward the end of the decade, conceptual art, which often combined text with painting or sculpture, refocused the emphasis on the art itself rather than the spectacle surrounding it.

The government played an important role in the art world during the 1960s by dedicating funds to the cause. JFK instituted a program to commission mosaics, tapestries, and sculpture for new federal buildings. LBJ championed legislation to create the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, both important organizations in the support of artists.

Music

The 1960s was one of the most creative, exciting periods in popular music. The early part of the decade was dominated by the emergence of Berry Gordy’s Motown Records, featuring such acts as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, and Martha and the Vandellas. These groups appealed to white and black audiences alike and were major influences on the white bands that would follow them up the pop charts. Beyond Motown, Sam Cooke was fusing the sacred and the secular to forge a sound that would be dubbed soul music. After Cooke’s death in 1964, Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin emerged as the major artists in this vein. Redding benefited greatly from exposure to white audiences at the Fillmore West and the Monterey Pop Festival, and Franklin’s version of “Respect” was a massive hit with all audiences. By the end of the decade, soul was giving way to funk music, with James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone leading the way.

For many, the arrival of the Beatles to the United States in 1964 was the event that marked the beginning of modern rock ‘n’ roll. The group became a pop culture phenomenon with the help of television and feature films. Not only was their music revolutionary, but so was their appearance. The mod look, cultivated in London, was imported to America along with the Beatles. Men wore their hair longer, slim tapered pants, multicolored striped jackets, velvet jackets, and ankle boots, and women wore mini-skirts to signify their approval of the new sound and distinguish themselves from their parents’ generation.

Their success paved the way for the bands of the British Invasion, including the Rolling Stones, the Who, and the Kinks. At the same time, the Beach Boys’ songs about surfing, cars, and girls helped introduce the rest of the country to the California aesthetic. To distinguish themselves from the mods and the rockers, the casual, easy-going surfer look focused on board shorts, Hawaiian print shirts, and sandals with tousled blond hair.

By mid-decade, the West Coast, and specifically San Francisco, was percolating with a mix of social, musical, and pharmaceutical elements that helped push the boundaries even further. The psychedelic sound, exemplified by Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and the Doors, and characterized by drug use (particularly LSD [for lysergic acid diethylamide]) spread across the country and had a great impact on the appearance and attitude of adolescents. The festivals of the late 1960s, most notably the Monterey Pop Festival, Woodstock, and Altamont (and the subsequent movies that chronicled these events), cemented the sound and image of rock music into the public’s consciousness. The eclectic ethnic hippie look deepened the generation gap, sending an immediately identifiable visual message to the establishment. Blue jeans, long hair, beads, and peasant tops that captured the Eastern philosophies were the wardrobe of the counterculture as people “tuned out” of the commercial mass-produced world and “tuned in” to nature.