Here's to many more photography adventures in 2015!
It's the last evening of 2014. I've been working on some old photos (see the post below) and discovered this one from Corinth in 2011. I've always loved the majesty of Acro, here looming above a shepherd and his flock in the late afternoon light.
Here's to many more photography adventures in 2015!
I've spent the past twelve days at home in Athens, and it's been wonderful. It was a very productive and fruitful trip in every way possible. Naturally, I have lots of photos to sort through, although the weather prevented me from doing as much work as I wanted. The November light on the whole did not disappoint, however. I also went to a LOT of great exhibitions, and will write about them shortly. Right now, though, it's 15 hours on a plane and back to work tomorrow morning.
I'm back in Baltimore after a long and productive summer in Athens. Even though I spent most of my time buried in the Blegen Library, I actually had a fair amount of travel time, and am grateful to have seen so many old and new places. This photo is one of my favorites from the summer. In May, I was in Santorini for all of a day. When we arrived, it was cloudy, moody skies that threatened to rain - but then the sun peaked through, and it cleared up. That ship in the distance is no small boat. The vastness of Greece continues to surprise and delight me everyday.
I'm editing photos from this summer and uploading them to flickr for safekeeping in between packing like mad. I'll move all of my things into storage in less than a week, and in less than two weeks, I'll move to Los Angeles for the year. Another peripatetic adventure awaits!
The summer has gone by far too quickly, and I've spent the majority of my time buried in the library. I just returned home from a long weekend in Delphi, however, where I not only took some amazing photographs, but also found some unexpected dissertation research. Of course, this means more work to both catch up on in the library as well as new work to undertake. I suppose that's a good sign. More to come; three weeks left here.
This Wednesday was World Book Night for 2014, a movement started to promote literacy and a love of reading. Why April 23rd? Well, it's UNESCO's World Book Day, as well as - get this - the 450th birthday (!) of William Shakespeare. This was my first time volunteering to be a part of World Book Night; I was inspired to do it as part of my on-going effort to make Life in Baltimore a little more bearable these past few months.
I honestly don't remember how I heard about World Book Night. I signed up for it earlier this semester, and proposed to hand out books down in the area of Johns Hopkins Hospital. Why there? Because it's a rapidly changing area of Baltimore that is populated by a mix of people from different backgrounds - hospital workers, locals, students, and others, and I figured that would be a good location to reach people who don't have the same kind of access to books that those of us up in the Ivory Tower of Homewood do. The neighborhood is rapidly changing (see here), and not always with the most positive outlook (see here, though rather outdated). So a little grassroots effort and spreading the joys of reading could do no harm, I thought.
After picking up my 20 copies of Diane Ackerman's "The Zookeeper's Wife" from Breathe Bookstore Cafe in Hampden earlier this week, I loaded them into a large tote and backpack (and worried briefly about my back). Wednesday morning, I took the JHMI shuttle down to JHH. I hadn't been to this part of Baltimore since signing up for the National Bone Marrow Registry program several years ago. I was surprisingly nervous - naturally a shy person, I've overcome much of my shyness through lots of teaching, but here I was, worried I'd have to do too much explaining, or people would brush me off and ignore me.
My first recipient was my shuttle driver, who was, in fact, delighted to receive a free book - so much so that he asked me to sign it! (even though I explained that I didn't write it; I'm writing an entirely other kind of book) This gave me the confidence to take to the streets and start handing out books. Some of the people and circumstances I encountered:
On the grander scale of why I did this (especially at the end of the term when I'm about to lose my mind with work), I was incredibly impressed with the entire concept, because reading truly changed my life. I'm one of those people - the ones who can't stop reading, and readying anything. My parents read to me even before I was born, and I have never been far from books since. Books have opened the world for me - inspired me to get an education, travel the world, and do everything that I want to do. Today's experience proved, too, that WBN is more than a concept - that the experience of physically giving books to others can not only inspire a love of reading, but a love of sharing and giving as well.
Do I know that my efforts are or will be successful? Not really. But if just one of my 20 books that I let loose into the world on Wednesday makes in into the hands of someone who discovers the joy of not being able to put a book down, or who wants to learn more about history, or who wants to read more books by Diane Ackerman or about the Holocaust, or any number of things, then I will consider my work complete. Or at least until next year.
I'm the guest contributor this month on Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan's blog, From the Archivist's Notebook, an intriguing collection of research projects on various aspects of archival research related to The American School of Classical Studies at Athens. During the autumn semester of my Regular Year at the ASCSA, I began a project of sifting through the letters of Zillah Pierce Dinsmoor, wife of the architect W.B. Dinsmoor (and mother to WBD Jr.). Starting in 1910, Zillah lived in Athens, Greece, with her husband, and wrote letters to her mother back in Massachusetts nearly every week for years. My research into her life in early 20th century Athens led down a number of fascinating paths, and you can read more about my adventures in the ASCSA Archives (and see some wonderful old photos!) by clicking on the link here.
For more on the ASCSA Archives, an invaluable resource online and at the ASCSA for all lovers of Archaeology and Greece past and present, visit here.
While in Chicago earlier this January for the Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, I had the good fortune to travel up to the Chicago History Museum in Lincoln Park before the epic snowstorm hit. While I've long been interested in Chicago history - my family has long-time roots in the Windy City - I had an agenda at the CHM, to both visit my friend Ellen (who is the head research librarian there!) as well as see a special exhibition on the photographer Vivian Maier.
Vivian Maier (1926-2009 was similar to another now-famous Chicagoan, the artist Henry Darger, in that she was little-known during her lifetime despite being extremely prolific, and only has become increasingly popular since her death. Born in NYC, raised in France, and settled in Chicago, she worked as a nanny in the North Shore area and in her spare time photographed the streets and people of Chicago, documenting its history as she went along. Though she traveled and photographed other parts of the world (as far away as Yemen and Thailand!), her Chicago work resonated particularly strongly for me, as it was in the 1960s, when she was most prolific, that my mother (who was then slightly younger than I am now) was living and working in Chicago. Maier witnessed - and photographed - many of the historical events in Chicago that had lasting effects on the city and our country. This was the same Chicago witnessed by my mother that I grew up hearing about, from the Race Riots to the 1968 Democratic National Convention - all of these events resonated in the simple everyday images of the people and neighborhoods that make up Chicago, documented by Vivian Maier.
Undated Photograph, Chicago
I was also quite taken with the self-referencial quality of many of Maier's photographs. She included herself in many of her images, but as more than just a self-portrait: often she chose to depict herself reflected in a mirror, or as a shadow. But always, she was an integral part of the composition and thus part of the narrative that she created through making images.
The exhibition at the CHM is small - just one room - but quite powerful and moving. Prints are arranged uniquely: rather than framed on the wall, large prints are suspended from the ceiling, so that one must weave in and out of the small space and is directly confronted with the images. In addition, a number of series of small prints line the walls , each image thematically relevant and often from the same roll or rolls of film. Through these, we can trace the production of her images. Since much of her work was not printed until after her death (over 700 rolls of film were undeveloped when historian John Maloof discovered her work in 2007), it seems appropriate to display sections of her photography in this manner, mimicking the way contact sheets are laid out in order for the photographer to make choices about which images to print.
I'm delighted to learn that the exhibition, which was scheduled to close the weekend after my visit, has now been extended to Summer 2014 - so there's plenty of time for you to check it out! Also in the works is a documentary film (see link to the trailer below), which also promises to open our eyes even more to this now-known artist.
Sources for further reading:
Vivian Maier Photographer (official website) (the above images are from this site)
Finding Vivian Maier (official documentary trailer)
Wikipedia entry, with references to exhibitions
Vivian Maier: The Unheralded Street Photographer (Smithsonian Magazine article)
flickr slideshow, from the Chicago History Museum