Dreamcatching Sketchbooks.

Black Hawk Ledger, plate 4. Tribe : (Lakota Sioux)- Sans Arc. Courtesy of Plains Indian Ledger Art, obtained from: https://plainsledgerart.org/

When keeping a dream diary, one of the crucial components to its accuracy and enriched content is to document first thing after waking, when memory of the dream is fresh in the mind’s eye.  When looking at Native American Ledger Art, there is a similar sentiment to this concept. As Native Americans were being forced to live on reservations while their culture was simultaneously  vanishing, these sketchbooks created by the Plains Indians illustrated ways of life, ceremonies, war stories and events that were captured at the end of an era, when recollection was most vivid.

Koba-Russell Ledger, plate 14. Tribe : Kiowa. Couresty of Plains Indian Ledger Art, obtained from: https://plainsledgerart.org/

Ledger Art, as it is called since accountant ledgers were often used for these sketchbooks, was created roughly between 1860-1900, when the great buffalo herds disappeared, tribes were forced to relocate to restricted territories, and their children sent to boarding schools.  It was at this time that Plains Indian men artistically adapted from using natural paints on hide applied with bone and paintbrushes, to the confines of notebook sized paper with crayons, colored pencil and water colors.

The Plains Indian Ledger Art Digital Publishing Project  (PILA) has 17 ledger books completely digitized and hosted online to view.  Each ledger is thoroughly documented, with all of its plates presented from front to back cover.  Thanks to PILA, we can take a glimpse into the memory and imagination of the Plains Indians, before their dream was so rudely interrupted.

Rosebud School Album, plate 12; black tailed deer dreamer. Tribe: Lakota (Sioux) – Brulé. Couresty of Plains Indian Ledger Art, obtained from: https://plainsledgerart.org/

Rosebud School Album, plate 16; one horned buffalo bull dancer. Tribe: Lakota (Sioux) – Brulé. Couresty of Plains Indian Ledger Art, obtained from: https://plainsledgerart.org/

Koba-Russell Ledger, plate 20; medicine men dance. Tribe : Kiowa. Couresty of Plains Indian Ledger Art, obtained from: https://plainsledgerart.org/

Bad Eye Sketchbook, back cover. Tribe : Kiowa. Couresty of Plains Indian Ledger Art, obtained from: https://plainsledgerart.org/

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Good Housekeeping: A Civil Defense Strategy.

The above propaganda film, The House in the Middle, was created in 1954 by the National Paint, Varnish, and Lacquer Association and can be found in the Pelinger Collection of the Moving Image Archive. The goal of the film was to encourage the American public to keep spotless, organized homes with lightly painted exteriors as a civilian defense tactic during the Cold War era.   The reasoning behind this, white paint repels heat and clutter, both inside and outside, will turn your house into a virtual tinder box should an atomic bomb hit your area.  During the film, an “untidy” home is compared to “spic-and-span” home in several blasts, complete with repeats and detailed comparison of how the structures held up to the searing atomic heat wave.   I’m not sure how the creators of The House in the Middle would feel watching the television show Hoarders, but their classification of messy is more than a stretch.  A newspaper in a magazine rack and some yard debris are hardly worthy of inducing a doomsday inferno.  Even if the structure of your house could withstand an atomic blast, the film never addresses how humans might react this event, like, say your flesh instantly melting off.  Perhaps the film was an attempt at soothing the American public’s missile frantic minds and providing a sense of empowerment in a helpless situation, or to simply increase house paint sales.

The House in the Middle was filmed at the famously controversial Nevada Test Site (NTS), which was the stage for America’s nuclear testing.   From 1951 to 1992, 1,021 nuclear detonations occurred on the Nevada Test Site, including 100 atmospheric tests and the remainder underground. During the Cold War, it is estimated 125,000 people were employed at the NTS.  The University of Nevada, Las Vegas has created an in-depth look of the human story behind the NTS with the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project (NTS OHP).  Interviews cover a diverse range of those involved with, or affected by, the NTS.  Over 150 interviews are all documented in transcripts available on the NTS OHP site, supported by UNLV Digital Library.  The voices of the project encompass protestors and peace groups, scientists and engineers, laborors, military, women and the NTS, Native Americans and more.   The Nevada Test Site Oral History Project is an admirable endeavor capturing personal stories from the lives touched by the Nevada Test Site.  Aside from my accolade, the NTS OHP was the winner of 2010 National Council on Public History’s Outstanding Public History Project Award.

Since this post would not be complete without some explosive photographs, the below are several images of nuclear bomb tests on the Nevada Test Site.  The captured blasts evoke awe at their power, enormity, and billowing beauty.  For a split second, we might forget they were intended for.

“Priscilla.” 24 June 1957. Nevada Test Site. Atmospheric Nuclear Testing, 37 kilotons. Courtesy of Nevada Division of Environmental Protection Bureau of Federal Facilities, obtained from: http://ndep.nv.gov/boff/

“Dog.” 1 November 1951. Nevada Test Site. Atmospheric Nuclear Testing, 21 kilotons. Courtesy of Nevada Division of Environmental Protection Bureau of Federal Facilities, obtained from: http://ndep.nv.gov/boff/

“Baneberry underground nuclear test.” 18 December 1970. Nevada Test Site. Atmospheric Nuclear Testing, 10 kilotons. Courtesy of Nevada Division of Environmental Protection Bureau of Federal Facilities, obtained from: http://ndep.nv.gov/boff/

“Stokes.” 7 August 1957. Nevada Test Site. Atmospheric Nuclear Testing, 9 kilotons. Courtesy of Nevada Division of Environmental Protection Bureau of Federal Facilities, obtained from: http://ndep.nv.gov/boff/

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Step by Step.

“Man and woman dancing a waltz.” Eadweard Muybridge. Animal locomotion: an electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal movements. 1872-1885. Courtesy of USC Digital Library: http://digitallibrary.usc.edu

At first glance, the waltzing duo photographed in the series above makes one’s heart swoon with nostalgic notions from an embrace lingering in time.  Not to say that the photographer, Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904), wasn’t a romantic chap as he was definitely a man of character, but his photographic intentions weren’t exactly to conjure tender sentiments.   Rather, his objectives were more scientific: isolate and analyze physical movement of humans and animals alike.  Not forgoing artistic expression, as science aided in the public’s acceptance of the then-provocative mostly nude photographs to later become celebrated as works of art.

“Jumping over a boys back (leapfrog).” Eadweard Muybridge. Animal locomotion: an electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal movements. 1872-1885. Courtesy of USC Digital Library: http://digitallibrary.usc.edu

The photos shown here are all from Muybridge’s collection Animal Locomotion: an electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal movements, created from 1872 –1885, published by the University of Pennsylvania in 1887.  Animal Locomotion consisted of 781 plates, each plate contained a series of rapid succession, still frame photos in varying angles.  Muybridge posed his models in scenarios ranging from simple to silly, and always in accordance with gender roles of the Victorian era.  Men typically exhibited their athletic prowess, from heaving large rocks to replicating field work, while women often either danced or carried out chores with nymphean grace for the camera.  Ladies handling water in a variety of ways, carrying jars, pouring on each other from buckets, or sprinkling on the ground, seemed to be a favorite aesthetic for Eadweard.

“Two women dancing a waltz.” Eadweard Muybridge. Animal locomotion: an electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal movements. 1872-1885. Courtesy of USC Digital Library: http://digitallibrary.usc.edu

The University of Southern California Digital Library has 701 of the 781 plates from Animal Locomotion for the public to view online.  The clever folks at the USC Digital Library have included animated gifs with each plate, bringing Eadweard’s figures back to life.    Mr. Muybridge, I hope you are as tickled as I am with USC’s resuscitations.

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The Ling Long Girls.

The word ‘ling long’ (elegant and fine) originates from the Ming dynasty.  With the publication of Ling long, the women’s magazine published in Shanghai, China from 1931-1937, the long held definition was transformed to indicate modern female style.

Ling long was a pocket-sized publication for the modern young women of the era, every budding young woman and female student had one in their possession.  While the ‘new woman’ was emerging around the world, this was also occurring in China, especially the cosmopolitan city of Shanghai.   Women were pursing education and sophistication while harnessing their sex appeal and chasing the latest fashion trends.  Much of the magazine’s content was focused on remarkable modern women, dating advice, hobbies, fashion trends, beauty secrets, movie stars, and advertisements of mostly western products.

Differentiating the Ling long girls from their international feminine cohorts was their Chinese culture and loyalty.  Resulting from this mixture of perspectives, Ling long was full of contradictions.  One article might encourage its young readers to never submit to marriage, followed by another providing instructions on how to be a good housewife.  Despite the wavering tone, the virtues of a modern woman were encouraged throughout.  According to Ling long, the modern woman’s appearance and essence were her definitive qualities.  Her outward appearance should be contemporary, but not overly extravagant.  Trumping looks, her brain and spirit where of the utmost importance.  She must never become a ‘flower vase,’ a colloquial term for women who assume the role of a decorative object.  This message to the young women of China in the 1930s is admirable and remarkable.  One must wonder how the content would change, or if it at all, if the publication were in print today.

Columbia University Libraries hosts a diverse group of digital collections .  Of its featured collections, is the digitization of the Ling long women’s magazine, which is the largest archive outside of China. The publication has been widely used by scholars and researchers as it provides a glimpse into the lives of Shanghai women in the 1930s.  Although there is not a translation available for each page, an interpreter is not required.  Most of photographs and illustrations speak volumes.  Enjoy their chat below.

Covers.

Cover. Ling long. 1931. Vol. 7. Page 737. Courtesy of Columbia University Libraries, obtained from: http://library.columbia.edu.

Cover. Ling long. 1933. Vol. 86. Page 288. Courtesy of Columbia University Libraries, obtained from: http://library.columbia.edu.

Beauty and Fashion.

Illustration. Ling long. 1932. Vol. 42. Page 1673. Courtesy of Columbia University Libraries, obtained from: http://library.columbia.edu.

Illustration. Ling long. 1932. Vol. 50. Page 2063. Courtesy of Columbia University Libraries, obtained from: http://library.columbia.edu.

Cartoons.

Illustration. Ling long. 1932. Vol. 70. Page 936e. Courtesy of Columbia University Libraries, obtained from: http://library.columbia.edu.

Illustration. Ling long. 1932. Vol. 70. Page 936f. Courtesy of Columbia University Libraries, obtained from: http://library.columbia.edu.

Ling long Girls.

Photo of 3 women playing hoodlums. 1932. Vol. 71. Page 986. Courtesy of Columbia University Libraries, obtained from: http://library.columbia.edu.

Women. Ling long. 1935. Vol. 184. Page 1060. Courtesy of Columbia University Libraries, obtained from: http://library.columbia.edu.

Woman. Ling long. 1935. Vol. 197. Page 2028. Courtesy of Columbia University Libraries, obtained from: http://library.columbia.edu.

Woman. Ling long. 1935. Vol. 192. Page 1607. Courtesy of Columbia University Libraries, obtained from: http://library.columbia.edu.

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Adonis: Death Does Not Become Him.

The ethereal, statuesque figure below is that of Ted Shawn, founding father of modern dance, in the 1923 play Death of Adonis.  Adonis did not quite meet his demise.  Rather, he transcended mortal deterioration by remaining ever youthful and luminescent in the public domain nearly 90 years on.   Thanks to the New York Public Library for being generous with their supernatural powers.

The NYPL Digital Gallery is a heavenly collection of 700,000 photographs, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, and more.  Rejoice in it.

Hiller, Lejaren A. “Ted Shawn in Death of Adonis.” 1923. Photographic print. The Denishawn Collection. Courtesy of The New York Public Library, obtained from: http://www.nypl.org.

Hiller, Lejaren A. “Ted Shawn in Death of Adonis.” 1923. Photographic print. The Denishawn Collection. Courtesy of The New York Public Library, obtained from: http://www.nypl.org.

Hiller, Lejaren A. “Ted Shawn in Death of Adonis.” 1923. Photographic print. The Denishawn Collection. Courtesy of The New York Public Library, obtained from: http://www.nypl.org.

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Seasonal Produce Deities.

Harvest provides life, personified in the paintings below.

The artist, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, is renowned for painting a collection of objects formed together to create a portrait.  Fruit, vegetables, flowers, books, sea creatures, tree roots, and other objects are his subject’s composition.   The collection featured here is the first series of Giuseppe’s “Four Seasons,” created in the mid 16th century.

These images are courtesy of Yale University’s recently digitized vast collections held by its museums, libraries and archives.   The goal of the project is to provide open access freely in the public domain to over 250,000 images and 1,500,000 records.   Yale is the first Ivy League university to undertake such an effort,  read more about the project here.

Praise be to Autumn, the most bountiful god of them all.

Praise also be to Yale’s Office of Digital Assets and Infrastructure, for providing plentiful fruit in every season.

Autumn.

Arcimboldo, Giuseppe. “Autumn.” ca. 1550. Painting, oil in canvas. Italian. Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery, obtained from: http://discover.odai.yale.edu/ydc

Winter.

Arcimboldo, Giuseppe. “Winter.” ca. 1550. Painting, oil in canvas. Italian. Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery, obtained from: http://discover.odai.yale.edu/ydc

Spring.

Arcimboldo, Giuseppe. “Spring.” ca. 1550. Painting, oil in canvas. Italian. Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery, obtained from: http://discover.odai.yale.edu/ydc

Summer.

Arcimboldo, Giuseppe. “Summer.” ca. 1550. Painting, oil in canvas. Italian. Courtesy of Yale University Art Gallery, obtained from: http://discover.odai.yale.edu/ydc

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Homer Was Rarely Home.

Sticking with Arizona resources, the University of Arizona Institutional Repository (UAiR) provides a diverse collection of images, books, documents and maps from the university’s students, staff and faculty. Contributing to the UAiR’s rich content, former University of Arizona president and most intriguing fellow, is Dr. Homer L. Shantz (1876-1958).   Prior to serving as the University of Arizona president, Dr. Shantz’s lifelong career was as a prominent American botanist and avid photographer. The combination of these two passions (botany and photography) resulted in a breathtaking body of work.  While Shantz focused on vegetation, soil, and landscapes, he was also instrumental in photographic documentation used to record vegetation change over time.  Through revisiting sites decades later, partly through the collaboration of other researchers after Shantz’s death, he documented environmental change brought on by earthly afflictions such as climate shifts and human impact.

Dr. Shantz traveled the world extensively, most notably with an expedition to Africa and his focus on the American West.  Homer photographed not only the subject of his research, but also the many aspects of his journey to reach the abundant varieties of flora.  Architecture, transportation, indigenous people and their diets consisting of native plants, were of interest to Shantz.   While working for the USDA’s Bureau of Plant Industry, Shantz participated in an African expedition from 1919 to 1920, funded by the Smithsonian Institute.  The fascinating and methodical 3,500 images from this African expedition and complete detailed travel journal are available to view UAiR website.  The remainder of Shantz’s photographic research is also included in the collection, creating an extensive digital archive of 6,500 images.

Below is less than a snippet from Dr. Homer L. Shantz’s lifelong pursuit of botanical photographic documentation.

The man himself, Homer L. Shantz.

Shantz, Homer L. “H. L. Shantz.” 14 September 1919. De Aar, Northern Cape, South Africa. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from: http://uair.arizona.edu.

Africa eats.

The symmetrical presentation of local fruits and vegetables is most appealing to the eye.

Shantz, Homer L. “Wild Watermelon.” 29 November 1919. Kafue, Northern Rhodesia, Africa. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from: http://uair.arizona.edu.

Shantz, Homer L. “Orange.” November 29, 1919. Tanzania, Africa. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from: http://uair.arizona.edu.

Shantz, Homer L. “Eggplants.” 20 February 1920. Tanzania, Africa. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from: http://uair.arizona.edu.

Shantz, Homer L. “Custard apple.” February 20 1920. Tanzania, Africa. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from: http://uair.arizona.edu.

Soil.

Through Homer’s lens, even dirt is beautiful.

Shantz, Homer L. “Detail of soil.” 30 March 1920. Soga, Tanzania, Africa. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from: http://uair.arizona.edu.

Shantz, Homer L. “Soil showing cracks.” 2 August 1910. Fallon, Nevada, United States. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from: http://uair.arizona.edu.

Pointy plants.

Sharp edges growing on opposite sides of the world.

Shantz, Homer L. “Detail of yucca.” 7 October 1916. Carrizozo, New Mexico, United States. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from: http://uair.arizona.edu.

Shantz, Homer L. “Sisal.” 16 April 1920. Moshi, Tanzania, Africa. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from: http://uair.arizona.edu.

The Forest.

The forest comes in all shapes and sizes.

Shantz, Homer L. “Rain Forest.” 8 November 1919. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Africa. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from: http://uair.arizona.edu.

Shantz, Homer L. “Carnegiea, Cholla, Isocoma.” 28 May 1921. Florence, Arizona, United States. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from: http://uair.arizona.edu.

Shantz, Homer L. “Yellow Pine, Poa Arizonica.” 4 June 1921. Cooley, Arizona, United States. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from: http://uair.arizona.edu.

Shantz, Homer L. “Density of Forest.” 25 January 1920. Kindu, Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from: http://uair.arizona.edu.

Homer’s obeservations of African women.

Homer L. Shantz was a keen observer of both plants and people alike.  Looking at the notes to the following pictures, Shantz was perceptive to the disproportionate workload of the women he encountered in Africa.  In the last photo here, Shantz witnessed the dubious marriage of a Belgian man to a Congolese woman as he was sure to note his firsthand account of the acquisition.

Shantz, Homer L. “Native Women.” 20 March 1920. Ujiji, Tanzania, Africa. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from http://uair.arizona.edu.

Description:  A photo of two women returning from manihot field – baskets on head. Shows type of hoe, manihot, machete and basket. All agriculture is done by women – men occasionally help. [Shantz travel journal, Feb. 22, 1920]

Shantz, Homer L. “One of Agriculturalists.” 5 January1920. Lubumashi (Elizabethville), Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from http://uair.arizona.edu.

Description:    One of the agriculturists carrying water from a dirty muddy big open well about 15 ft. across. These women do all the work. She has a 5 gallon petrol can on her head full of water. [Shantz travel journal, Jan. 5, 1920]

Shantz, Homer L. “Belgian Purchases New Wife.” 7 January 1920. Fungurume, Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa. Courtesy of University of Arizona Institutional Repository, obtained from http://uair.arizona.edu.

Description:   Man and wife in Congo.  Saw him pick her out. [Shantz travel journal, Jan. 7, 1920]

Visit here for the full Homer L. Shantz for the full collection : http://uair.arizona.edu/

Visit here for the curated exhibit “Photographs of Homer L. Shantz, from the Smithsonian African Expedition
1919-1920
”:http://digitalcommons.arizona.edu/x/exhibits/shantzafrica

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