speaking of norman rockwell

This post is completely reblogged.  I came across it HERE yesterday while looking for more of Jason Claiborne’s work.  I became curious about Norman Rockwell’s own views on race.  Angelo Lopez broke it down pretty well, as far as Rockwell’s work is concerned anyway, and I thought I’d share.

Norman Rockwell and the Civil Rights Paintings

By Angelo Lopez

Fifty years after he first started doing work for the magazine, Norman Rockwell was tired of doing the same sweet views of America for the Saturday Evening Post in the early 1960s. The great illustrator was increasingly influenced by his close friends and loved ones to look at some of the problems that was afflicting American society. Rockwell had formed close friendships with Erik Erickson and Robert Coles, psychiatrists specializing in the treatment of children and both were advocates of the civil rights movement.

His most profound influence was his third wife, Mary L. “Molly” Punderson, who was an ardent liberal and who urged him in new directions. On December 14, 1963, Rockwell did his last cover for the Saturday Evening Post and he began working for Look magazine. Look magazine finally gave Norman Rockwell the opportunity to express his social concerns.

Rockwell’s first painting was The Problem We All Live With, one of his greatest paintings. This painting depicts Ruby Bridges, the little girl who integrated the New Orleans school system in 1960, being escorted to her class by federal marshals in the face of hostile crowds. It’s a simple picture, the disembodied figures of 4 stiff suited men and the vulnerable yet defiant figure of a school age African American girl marching lockstep. To the right is a tomato staining a wall, obviously thrown at the girl but just missing. My eyes focus on the girl and her immaculate white, a contrast to the graffiti stained wall in the background. As a painting it’s a wonder, with it’s composition conveying Rockwell’s message in a few simple figures. To look at the picture, go here.

An even greater departure from Rockwell’s usual sweet America paintings is Southern Justice, painted in 1963. Rockwell did a finished painting, but the editors published Rockwell’s color study instead, and I think his color study conveys the terror of the scene more successfully. It depicts the deaths of 3 Civil Rights workers who were killed for their efforts to register African American voters. It is done in a monochrome sienna color, and it is a horrifying vision of racism. A look of it can be seenhere.

Rockwell’s most optimistic view of the civil rights movement wasNegro In The Suburbs, painted in 1967. It depicts an African American family moving into a white suburban neighborhood. The African American children look over by the kids in the neighborhood, with all the children sharing a love of baseball, America’s game. This painting can be found in this gallery.

a “half black” rockwell

I think this is so cool.  Just one thing though…. If his father was mixed-race himself, how is it possible for Mr. Claiborne to be half black? Don’t get me wrong, I am not questioning his personal identity.  I would love to have a conversation with him about it.  About how he came to that conclusion.  I used to think that if I could make “half black” kids.  Then one day I realized that… I can’t.

A Rockwell Illustrating a Street-Lit World


Jason Claiborne

When Jason Claiborne was a third grader at Public School 187 in Washington Heights, the teacher scolded him for drawing a picture of a naked woman.

“Jason stood up and told the teacher, ‘I come from a family of artists and we have nude paintings on the wall,’ ” recalled his mother, Jane Jaffe, 65, whose father was Richard Rockwell, an artist and a nephew of the famous illustrator Norman Rockwell.

That would make Norman Rockwell — who was born 116 years ago on Feb. 3 — a great-great-uncle to Jason Claiborne, a 33-year-old artist living in Inwood, Manhattan.

If one were to have preconceptions about what a relative of Norman Rockwell would be like, Mr. Claiborne might not match them.

First of all, he is, as he calls it, “half black,” being the product of Ms. Jaffe’s second marriage, to a mixed-race man named Mario Claiborne. Jason Claiborne did not grow up in middle America, but rather in Washington Heights.

Like Rockwell, who died in 1978, Mr. Claiborne makes his living illustrating book and magazine covers. But Mr. Claiborne does not sit at a spindly easel painting sentimental portraits of white-bread middle Americana. He uses a computer to illustrate the covers publications that fall into the so-called street lit genre of publishing: urban tales of city dwellers who deal in guns, drugs, gangs and vice. The characters (and readers, largely) tend to be people of color.

“Norman documented middle America, and I’m documenting the ’hood,” said Mr. Claiborne, president and creative director for Augustus Publishing, which puts out books with titles such as “Ghetto Girls” and “Streets of New York.”

Authors include former prison inmates and gang members, and Mr. Claiborne provides the brash cover art that is more hustlers and hip-hop than the hobos and homespun scenes of “Saturday Evening Post” covers.

“A lot of Norman Rockwell illustrations can be seen as Polaroid images of the American dream,” Mr. Claiborne said. “I’m showing an American dream that’s not as pretty.”

…“Norman drew life as he experienced it, and like him, Jason draws from his personal life experience,” Ms. Jaffe said. “Norman would not be averse to the way Jason’s doing, because Norman was always ahead of his time as well.”

Richard Rockwell — whose father was Jarvis Rockwell, brother of Norman Rockwell — became a notable illustrator for comics and a courtroom illustrator, before dying in 2006. Richard’s daughter Jane Rockwell (later, Jane Jaffe) became a noted dancer and actor and Radio City Rockette, before becoming a lawyer and eventually taking her current position as an administrative law judge for New York State, in Brooklyn.

Mr. Claiborne has been painting on canvas since childhood. His mother raised him as a single parent, and he developed a close bond with Richard Rockwell and spent much time in Richard’s house surrounded by Norman Rockwell’s art and watching Richard Rockwell sketch. Richard Rockwell drew for many comic strips, including the Steve Canyon series for more than 30 years. He was also a prominent courtroom sketch artist, and several of his sketches hang on Mr. Claiborne’s walls.

Ms. Jaffe noted the significance of having an interracial descendant carrying on the Rockwell artistic mantle.

“When my father was on his deathbed, Jason whispered in his ear that he would keep the Rockwell creative juices flowing,” she said.


Read more HERE

people will recode you

I think Professor Daniel hit the nail on the head with this statement from the article below: “There’s really no understanding when a person says, ‘I’m biracial, I’m multiracial,’ ” he said. “People don’t know where to locate you.”  This is exactly why this work, this topic is so important to me.  My sincerest hope is that one day a person can say “I’m biracial/mixed,” and that the majority of Americans will have a basic understanding of what that means to said person.  Right now it’s very vague.  Right now, said person is likely to get a blank stare, a condescending smirk, an accusation of self-hatred and/or denial, and then be “coded” into the category that phenotype makes most logical.  Right now, the majority of people do not understand that the fact that said person comes from two different races and cultures is important to them and informs their identity.  We can’t separate the two things.  Hopefully wouldn’t want to.

Framing mixed race: The face of America is changing

By Jennifer Modenessi
Contra Costa Times

There’s no end to the number of ways people label one another, but what happens when visual cues such as skin color and hair texture don’t fit into categories? Mike Tauber and Pamela Singh interviewed and photographed more than 100 individuals and families (in the recent book “Blended Nation: Portraits of Mixed-Race America,”), capturing the faces and stories of what the authors describe as a group of people dealing with disparity, and living within the gap between how society views them and how they self-identify.

“Some people think I’m just tan and not half-black,” said 10-year-old Isabella Carr. Several years have passed since Isabella, her siblings and her parents, Janine and Evan, who are now divorced, were interviewed and photographed for “Blended Nation.”

In the book, the family talked about the rewards and challenges of their heritage. Being married to an African-American man had allowed Mozée to “see the world through a multicolored lens, and not just the white one I was born with.”

Still, there have been cloudy spots.

“I have people that don’t think they’re my kids or they ask if they have the same father,” Mozée said. She responds that, yes, they are her children and, yes, they have the same father. The conversation might be different with a stranger but Mozée “doesn’t get into those situations much.”

When asked a few years ago by the authors how he self-identified, Mozée’s eldest son, Austin, said that half the time he felt black, the other half of the time he felt white. Now 16, Austin said not much has changed.

“I identify with both ways, white and black,” he said. “I might talk to somebody and nearly make friends and that’s one of the questions they ask: ‘Are you mixed? Are you black and white?’ — partly because of how I look and my personality. I just tell them who I am. I have no problem with that.”

For some, the question never comes. Moses, 29, an Oakland resident, said she’s rarely asked about her ethnicity or background. With her pale skin, long red hair and freckles, not many people guess that her late father was black, Native American and white.

“People don’t see me as mixed” she said. “(They) don’t ask.”

Getting older, Moses said, has tempered her response to being multiracial. Living in the Bay Area, with its rich diversity, has also helped.

“On the East Coast, it was ‘No way.’ It was shock and disbelief,” Moses said. “Here, it ranges from ‘Uh-huh,’ like it’s not a real surprise, to ‘Interesting.’ It doesn’t blow people’s minds.”

Daniel, who for more than two decades has taught “Betwixt and Between,” a UC Santa Barbara course dealing with multiracial identity, has struggled with people’s perception of his mixed-race background.

“There’s really no understanding when a person says, ‘I’m biracial, I’m multiracial,’ ” he said. “People don’t know where to locate you. They know where to locate blacks. They know where to locate whites. They know where to locate Native Americans, Latinos. When you say, ‘I’m biracial, multiracial,’ they say, ‘Who are your people? What does that mean?’ Inevitably people will recode you into whatever they want you to be.”

That’s why self-identification is so important, Daniel said. It’s changing the way people talk about race and where mixed-race people fit in the fabric of American society. “If people really identified with the complexity of their million ancestors, we’d have a really different world,” he said.

Read more HERE

a million little pieces

I work with cars and am fascinated by all these tiny parts!

whoa!There’s something truly appealing about seeing every last little piece of a car deconstructed and laid out neatly. Automobiles are fascinating machines, with tons of tiny pieces that do unexpected things, with each part serving a purpose. And knowing that every functional part of a car is the result of a century of hard work and refinement is kind of awe-inspiring. via

(image via: Avi Abrams)

There’s something truly appealing about seeing every last little piece of a car deconstructed and laid out neatly. Automobiles are fascinating machines, with tons of tiny pieces that do unexpected things, with each part serving a purpose. And knowing that every functional part of a car is the result of a century of hard work and refinement is kind of awe-inspiring.

(image via: Prius Chat)

These cars were carefully deconstructed and laid out for the sake of art. Seeing every bit that makes a car tick is like taking a look inside a secret world. Just like any other complex machine, cars are full of parts both small and large that all work together to make the overall functions go exactly the way they should – and it’s oddly poetic, in a mechanical sort of way.

(image via: Damian Ortega)

These exploded views take an object that’s ever-present in our everyday lives and give it an entirely new (to most of us) spin. This is truly art for the geek heart. It kind of makes us wonder what everything else would look like in detailed exploded view. Now where are our screwdrivers?