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Hans Hofmann's Munich class

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : sepia ; 5 x 7 cm.

Hans Hofmann's Munich class

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; 8 x 6 cm.

Hans Hofmann and students on the beach in Capri

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; 6 x 6 cm.

Item is inscribed on verso (handwritten): In Capri on the beach with students; Mr. and Mrs. H. Hofmann; 1926.

Hans Hofmann and the modern art class at the University of California

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : sepia ; 9 x 14 cm.

Item is inscribed on verso (handwritten): Modern Art Class at Cal. University; Prof. H. Hofmann from Munich.

Robert Motherwell teaching at Black Mountain Rock

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; 09 x 11 cm. Title derived from penciled note on verso.
Photograph shows Motherwell at the blackboard in front of a group of seated students.

Art at the Flatbush Boy's Club

Archives of American Art
1 clipping ; 29 x 14 cm.

Clipping of Nevelson's article on painting instruction at the Flatbush Boy's Club was previously pasted in a scrapbook.

Howard Pyle and his students

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; 9 x 11 cm.

Identification on verso (handwritten): L to R, "The younger members"; Harding, McCouch, Oakley, Wyeth, True; Pyle; Wilmington, Del.

A life drawing class taught by Giacomo Patri at the California Labor School

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; 21 x 26 cm.

Marguerite Wildenhain to Hal Fromhold

Archives of American Art
Letter : 1 p. : typescript ; 28 x 22 cm.

Wildenhain expresses agreement with Fromhold's position that the American Craft Council should support students directly rather than the teachers of the craft, because the craft teachers and craft schools have proven themselves ineffectual.

Mary H. Buehr teaching art class

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; 20 x 24 cm. Identification on verso (handwritten): Return to L.S. Silke; 460 S. State St; Mrs. Buehr; class from; 9510/34-33; Mary H. Buehr
Identification on verso (typed): Study in the Galleries of the Art Institute; Classes visit the Institute by appointment and receive instruction concerning the exhibits by a teacher provided by the Board of Education.
Identification on verso (stamped): Frederick G. Bemm; Photographer; Art Institute - Chicago
Date taken from years Frederick Bemm was active at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Johnson as Lear

National Portrait Gallery
Named Time’s 1964 “Man of the Year” because of his remarkable presidential successes, Lyndon Johnson (1908–1973) received that distinction again in 1967 for his perceived failures. Violently scorned for escalating the Vietnam War, chastised by African Americans for moving too slowly on civil rights, and hounded in Congress for the costliness of his ambitious domestic programs, Johnson had even been deserted by much of his own Democratic Party. By the first week of 1968, when this caricature appeared on Time’s cover, his approval rating had plummeted from a peak of 80 percent to 38 percent.

Artist David Levine (1926–2009) took his inspira- tion from Shakespeare’s play King Lear (c. 1606), which centers on a man who runs afoul of his children and his own good intentions. Fellow Democrats Senator Robert Kennedy (1925–1968) and Representative Wilbur Mills (1909–1992) belea- guered the president; only one member of Johnson’s political “family” remained loyal: Vice President Hubert Humphrey (1911–1978).

Lyndon Johnson (1908–1973) fue “Hombre del Año” de la revista Time en 1964 por sus notables logros en la presidencia, y volvió a serlo en 1967, esa vez por lo que se opinaba eran sus fracasos. Despreciado con violencia por intensificar la guerra de Vietnam, criticado por los afroamericanos por su lento avance en materia de derechos civiles y atacado en el Congreso por el alto costo de sus ambiciosos programas domésticos, Johnson incluso fue abandonado por gran parte de su propio Partido Demócrata. Para la primera semana de 1968, cuando apareció esta caricatura en la portada de Time, su índice de aprobación se había desplomado de 80 por ciento a 38 por ciento.

El artista David Levine (1926–2009) se inspiró en el drama shakesperiano El rey Lear (c. 1606), sobre un hombre que se enemista con sus hijas y se desvía de sus buenas intenciones. Acosado por sus compañeros demócratas, el senador Robert Kennedy (1925–1968) y el representante Wilbur Mills (1909–1992), el presidente solo contaba en su “familia” política con un miembro fiel: el vicepresi- dente Hubert Humphrey (1911–1978).

LBJ as King

National Portrait Gallery

How to Get a Solo Show as an Amateur Artist: First, Serve Two Terms As President...

Smithsonian Magazine

Getting a solo gallery showing is a massive achievement for any budding artist—a success that often comes after a long, hard slog. The solo showing is a sign that the artist is on the path to making it, that their unique vision and style is really resonating. Or, that's normally what it means.

There are a few steps you could take to ease the transition into the art world. For one, you could be a two-term President. Then, you could host the gallery showing yourself. Last weekend, former President Bush opened “The Art of Leadership: A President's Personal Diplomacy,” at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas.

President Bush started painting two years ago, and his style has certainly developed since his early works. The showing includes a series of portraits of world leaders. In a release, says Bush,

What people will be able to come away with is: how do I feel about somebody I painted? That’s really the most important thing about it. Painting portraits of my friends and some people who weren’t necessarily my friends gave me a sense to convey a feeling I have about them because I got to know them well during the Presidency. I learned about their families and their likes and dislikes to the point where I felt comfortable painting them.

Whatever sense of intimacy is portrayed in the portraits, however, was not earned through Presidential access and familiarity. Instead, says Animal New York, many of Bush's paintings were copied off images found on the internet, on book covers, and in news agency photographs.

(original image)

A hypothetical analysis of the twinkle in stars : (as told by a child to a teacher)

Smithsonian Libraries
An artist's book, with a structure based on the wishing stars (lucky stars) from Hong Kong.

Cover title.

Publisher and date of copyright from colophon; possible place of publication from label on box.

Consists of one continuous strip of paper (5 x 64 cm.) printed on both sides in black and gold and folded into a pentagonal shape (9 cm.), inside which five small colored paper wishing stars (1-2 cm.) are hidden.

"Handset in Centaur, letterpress printed on Mohawk and written and designed by Katherine Ng ..." --Colophon.

Oral history interview with Walter Feldman, 1998 Aug. 10

Archives of American Art
Sound recording: 1 sound cassette (90 min.) : analog. Transcript: 30 pages. An interview with Walter Feldman conducted 1998 Aug. 10, by Robert Brown, for the the Archives of American Art, in Feldman's home, Providence, R.I.
Feldman discusses attending classes as a youth, 1939-1942, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; attending Yale's School of Fine Arts, 1942; service in combat infantry in the U.S. Army, Europe, 1943-1946; completing his BFA at Yale, 1946-1950 and MFA, 1951; working as an instructor in painting at Yale until his appointment at Brown University (1953; professor 1961) where he continues to teach; exhibitions and commissions; working in painting, printmaking, mosaics, and in fine book making.
He discusses working as the sole studio art teacher at Brown University until mid-1960s; hiring of additional artist-teachers and the subsequent split of the art department between studio art and art history; bringing book arts to Brown with his establishment of the Brown/Ziggurat Press, which he directs and which mostly publishes poetry; the many visiting arists at Brown; frequent commissions which have kept him young in spirit; and working in widely divergent media: medals, mosaics, and a huge mural commission in 1976; discussion of leading examples of his handmade books, including James Schevill's poetry, "Lager Lieder" (1991), a book of concentration camp songs, and Michael Harper's "Family Sequences" (1998); broadsides he's designed, sculptural "reliqueries" to memorialize the Jewish Holocaust; the current prospering of his artists books; and his success as a teacher.

The Gearhart sisters, California artists and educators

National Museum of American History

During Women's History Month we like to celebrate women represented in the museum's collections. The Gearhart sisters lived and worked in Pasadena, California, during the early 20th century, where they produced watercolors and prints that evoke their world. They also were influential educators in Southern California. None of them married, and they lived together all their lives. Each sister had her own artistic specialty and maintained a teaching career as well. Frances and May are best known as printmakers. Together with their younger sister Edna—a painter, poet, and author—they created a series of prints and poems for a children’s book, Let's Play, which incorporated their ideas about art and education.

Color block print with mostly sky and clouds, marshlands

Frances Gearhart (1869–1958), who taught English history at Los Angeles High School, is renowned for her block prints, a medium that became popular during the 1920s. Block prints are cut in relief on wood or linoleum and can be printed by hand or on a press. Largely self-taught, she used strong outlines in black and white and a lively palette of fresh colors to make prints of the Western landscape. Her prints have a direct, visual impact, and they received much critical acclaim. At age 40 in 1909 she began exhibiting her watercolors with other teachers at the high school, and by 1911 Antony Anderson, the art critic for the Los Angeles Times, praised her talent and ability, singling her out for her "brilliant promise." She began to show her block prints around 1919, and soon exhibited her work nationwide.

Color block print with three trees, blue mountains, green grass

May Gearhart (1872–1951) exhibited watercolors with her sisters beginning in 1911, and she and Edna studied with Arthur Wesley Dow, an influential artist and teacher. It's thought that their studies may have influenced Frances to try block printing. May took up intaglio printmaking during the nineteen-teens, and she varied the use of color in printing her small editions. In her etchings she experimented with soft-ground techniques that softened the etched lines and background to resemble pencil or chalk drawing. She studied and traveled widely, taking many summer courses on art and art education, and she worked as Supervisor of Drawing for the Los Angeles city schools for 40 years.

Color block print. High, purple cliffs with a little grass and spindly trees. Sky is green.

Living in Pasadena, the sisters actively participated in the vibrant Arts and Crafts scene in the city. The Arts and Crafts movement rejected Victorian embellishments and industrial production. Its followers emphasized good design and individual craftsmanship in furniture, ceramics, art, and architecture. In the United States, the term "Mission style" sometimes was used to describe the Arts and Crafts aesthetic, and Pasadena brothers Charles and Henry Greene were important Arts and Crafts architects whose work had wide influence. Japanese prints were an important aesthetic model for the Arts and Crafts movement, and California artists had several opportunities to view these works, including at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco in 1915. During the early 20th century, inspired by Arts and Crafts principles, women became more involved in art shows and the marketplace, and the Gearharts were part of this lively exchange of images and ideas.

Etching of a female figure wearing yellow head scarf, red shawl, purple, long dress, in front of closed doorway.

Frances and May joined the Printmakers Society of California, later known as the California Print Makers, whose members met in the Gearhart home studio during the 1920s. The group organized traveling exhibitions, and works by Frances and May were shown at the Smithsonian in a 1923 Printmakers Society exhibition. They graciously donated seven prints to the Division of Graphic Arts at that time. The sisters participated in other exhibitions during the 1920s: Frances's block prints were included in a color print exhibition organized by the American Federation of Arts that traveled to the Smithsonian in 1924, and Frances and May had a two-woman show at the Smithsonian in 1928. The sisters were very pleased with the response they received in the press and the sales they made from this exhibition. Frances donated an impression of her block print, This Joyous World, and as she commented to the curator, R. P. Tolman, "I didn't think Easterners would like our work."

Color block print with spirally white clouds in a blue sky, stand of pine trees, and rocky grassy landscape.

Figure wearing a white robe with colorful collar, sleeves, and shoes.

In 2009 the Pasadena Museum of California Art presented an exhibition of block prints and watercolors by Frances with an accompanying catalog, Behold the Day. Many of Frances Gearhart's prints are illustrated online and both sisters are featured in Paths to the Press: Printmaking and American Women Artists, 1910–1960 (Manhattan, Kansas: Beach Museum of Art, 2006).

Black and white block print showing livestock, grass, trees.

Black and white block print with trees.

Helena E. Wright is the Curator of Graphic Arts in the Division of Culture and the Arts. She has also blogged about the artwork of Felix B. Gaines and Ethel Reed.

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Posted Date: 
Wednesday, March 30, 2016 - 17:00
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Two sketches of LBJ as centaur

National Portrait Gallery

The Arrow-weeds: Environmentalists, Activists, and Artists

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Helena and Preston Arrow-weed teach a traditional dance in the Sounds of California Stage & Plaza. Photo by SarahVictoria Rosemann, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
Helena (center in red shawl) and Preston Arrow-weed (right) teach a traditional dance in the Sounds of California Stage & Plaza. Photo by SarahVictoria Rosemann, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

Gold mines and wind turbines are no match for Helena and Preston Arrow-weed.

Environmentalists, activists, educators—the Arrow-weeds are a force. They protect the sacred sites and desert ecosystem of their ancestral lands, the lower Colorado River region, through successfully protesting the creation of mines and turbines. They also dedicate themselves to the stimulation of tribal culture and increasing understanding of Native American history, culture, and art.

Bonded through their environmental causes, Helena and Preston have dramatically different personalities. Helena is quiet and reserved. She has the patience and grace of a seasoned teacher having  worked in many educational capacities—elementary school teacher, ESL teacher, and assistant professor.

Preston is outgoing and witty, with an irreverent deadpan humor that makes a heritage bearer of his renown approachable. He is a member of the Quechan Tribe of California and only one of a few who sing the sacred songs celebrating the rites of passage from birth to death and can sing them in the correct order. Multi-talented and multifaceted, he was also a Marine, a Hollywood actor, and is now a playwright.

At the 2016 Folklife Festival, Helena and Preston shared their personal stories, their causes, and the significance of the songs that Preston performs as Helena dances. 

Helena Arrow-Weed performing at the 2016 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Photo by SarahVictoria Rosemann, Ralph Rinzler Archives
Photo by SarahVictoria Rosemann, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

How did you meet?

Preston: Well, there I was minding my own business, and this woman came around with a rope, and she dragged me home.

Helena: Actually, we met at a hearing for environmental issues. We were both talking against it. I was really impressed with his presentation, protecting the desert and the animals—

Preston: It was love at first sight.

Helena: —and he had just such interesting stories and I thought, “Whoa. I am going to ask that guy to come to my classroom.” So I called the tribe and I asked them for Preston Arrow-weed. After a few calls, they finally gave me his number. We became friends after that.

Preston: I stayed over with her after that.

***

Preston Arrow-weed sharing songs and stories along with Kumeyaay tribe members Stan Rodriguez, Hwaa Hawk, and Raymond Martinez. Photo by Francisco Guerra, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
Preston Arrow-weed sharing songs and stories along with Kumeyaay tribe members Stan Rodriguez, Hwaa Hawk, and Raymond Martinez. Photo by Francisco Guerra, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

Patience and attention truly pay off with Preston’s style of storytelling. The plots wind down twisted paths populated by personified animals and superhuman beings, ending in foreign but ancestral landscapes of deserts, mountains, and oceans. Enraptured by giant talking snakes and frogs, you forget to listen for the moral—until it hits you like a ton of bricks at the end.

***

Why are traditional songs and stories so important?

Preston: They teach history, teach morals. Even though I think it has more to do folklore, it has deep meanings.  For instance, gold. In the creation story, there is a giant snake. This snake was created in anger. The creator was disappointed with his son, and they got in an argument. It was when the world was still wet and he was trying to mark it with a stick. The creator talked with his son, got angry and threw the stick down to the earth.

When the stick fell it became a snake, and because of the creator’s anger it became an angry snake. The snake’s head became poison, and his tail became a rattle from a piece of mud. The snake bit the first man that was created. The man was revived because it wasn’t time for his death, but then they took the snake and threw him to the north. Soon they forgot about him.

Sometime later on they said, “We have to get that snake because he is getting bigger and bigger. He is going to be dangerous.” So they went over there and tricked him. They told him they were going to build him a house, led him into it, and killed him.

But he knew that this was going to happen. He was wise. He knew that this was meant to be. He knew that this was his purpose, that he was a part of the plan of the universe.  He knew that he had to play the role through.

Preston Arrow-Weed presenting at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2016. Photo by SarahVictoria Rosemann
Photo by SarahVictoria Rosemann, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

He showed up at the house. The creator’s son was waiting at the entrance of the house with a big stone obsidian knife. The snake created four heads to scare the creator’s son.  The creator’s son  chopped off all four heads and killed the snake.

The creator’s son took the snake’s body and laid it across the shore so that the ocean couldn’t come up onto it—that is the mountains. Then the head that came off, he smashed it up and the spittle became silver. The snake’s urine went to the ocean—that is what makes the ocean powerful. And his blood was gold.

Today we know the power of the snake, but we also know the power of the snake’s blood. Today people misuse the power of the snake’s blood. And look what it has done to the world. For that snake’s blood, people have killed each other. Wars are going on now because of it. The whole country is fighting over it.

So these songs really have a deep meaning about the belief of my people.  So if everyone knew this story, they would learn that there is no moderation when it comes to power. You ruin everything around you. The snake’s blood is very powerful. It ruins everything.

How did you learn these stories and songs?

Preston: I heard it, I joined in, and I picked it up. It was not like today: “this is the way you sing” and “this is the way you say that.” They would say, “Go ahead and join me.”

For a long time I really didn’t know what I was saying. I had to analyze the words before I understood what it really meant. Today there are many phonetic singers, but they do not know what it means. I don’t sing phonetically.

I think for that reason, I became an environmentalist because—knowing these things and ignoring it, I couldn’t do it. Now, I’ll make the statement. I am involved in environmental issues because of the songs. If every singer knew what their songs meant, they would be right here beside me.

Helena and Preston Arrow-weed, accompanied by Maricella Rodriguez, present a radio drama that Preston is developing. Photo by Francisco Guerra, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
Helena and Preston Arrow-weed, accompanied by Maricella Rodriguez, present a radio drama that Preston is developing. Photo by Francisco Guerra, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

What is it like to share your traditions at the Folklife Festival?

When I was coming down here, I was thinking, I am going to D.C. and I am going to spill my guts about my tribe, my songs, and everything. But why am I doing this? Is it for the money? The attention? For the tribe? But it is not my land. It is those peoples’ land.

I am not talking about Washington, D.C., and what it is today. I am talking about the ancient people who once lived here. They had a belief. They had a religion. They had everything. And here I am going to bring mine onto their land? It is wrong.

So I said, since no one is there from their people, I am going to bring my traditions there and do it for them. I am sharing what is mine and trying to help them. I do align myself with them. I am doing this for those people.

***

Before each performance, Preston made a statement, directing focus to the ancestral inhabitants of the D.C. area and paying respect to their land, their traditions, and their history. He respected the local Native history by acknowledging its existence, his activist and environmentalist nature enacted in every moment of his life.

SarahVictoria Rosemann is a media intern for the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. She has a degree in ethnomusicology, with a focus in Tibetology, and grew up in Reno, Nevada. 

The 2016 Sounds of California Smithsonian Folklife Festival program was co-produced with the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, Radio Bilingüe, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and the Smithsonian Latino Center.

Photograph album of Alma Thomas

Archives of American Art
Photograph Album : 12 p. : b&w and col. ; 11 x 9

Oral history interview with Neil Welliver, 1996 November 14

Archives of American Art
Sound recording: 2 sound cassettes (2 hr., 8 min.) : analog. Transcript: 45 pages An interview of Neil Welliver conducted 1996 November 14, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art, in Welliver's home in Lincolnville, Maine.
Welliver talks about his childhood in Pennsylvania; his self-education; his marriage to a fashion illustrator; attending the Philadelphia Museum College of Art (now University of the Arts), receiving a BFA in 1953; teaching art in a public school; attending the Yale School of Art (MFA 1955) and teachers there; going to Maine; teaching at Yale (1955-1965); teaching at the University of Pennsylvania (1966-1989) at the graduate level. He recalls architect Louis Kahn at Yale and then at Pennsylvania; his various New York dealers from the 1960s, including Eleanor Ward at Stable Gallery, Aladar Marburger at Fischbach Gallery, and Pierre Lefraie at Marlborough Gallery; various art world friends, including Hilton Kramer, Clement Greenberg, and Fairfield Porter; and receiving an honorary doctorate of fine arts at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1996.

HIDE: Skin as Material and Metaphor

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Animal hide has a long tradition as a material within Native culture. The artists in the HIDE exhibit use the concept and material of skin as a metaphor for widespread issues of identity, and personal, historical, and environmental trauma and perseverance.

Love of Life as Survival: Malini Srinivasan and Bharatanatyam Dance

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

When I was twelve, every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. I would stand in ballet shoes on cracked wooden floorboards. Ms. Connie would pull her arms in and push them out from her chest, her back curving and straightening like a stretching cat, and tell me to make my body like a rubber band. I couldn’t quite grasp the concept.

At twenty-two, the idea of turning my body into a rubber band still eluded me, until I saw Malini Srinivasan dance at the 2017 Folklife Festival. Finally, I understood what Ms. Connie had meant.

I watched Malini cross her arms, then burst into a series of dynamic poses, her ankle bells jingling as she pounded across the stage. She bent her knees, then stamped out a phrase of Morse code with the heels and balls of her feet. I saw energy build up, rest suspended, then empower each movement. It was as if the July heat had set the stage on fire and she was stamping out the flames.

A professional Bharatanatyam dancer and teacher, Malini participated in On the Move for a presentation called “What We Bring,” sharing the cultural contributions her immigrant family has made to her community here. The session was presented by City Lore, a New York-based organization that is working with several artists to develop a performance and exhibition on the topic of immigration.

I was initially apprehensive about talking with her (my understanding of traditional Indian dance is limited to the “Bollywood Homicide” episode of Psych), but watching her put on her ankle bells I was reminded of wrapping the ribbons of my ballet shoes. I felt connected.

Malini Srinivasan
Malini Srinivasan attaches her ankle bells on stage at the 2017 Folklife Festival.
Photo by JB Weilepp, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

Malini walks in the footsteps of her grandmother, Kolima, who danced on clay in India “and every time she struck her feet, they would make holes in the floor,” she said. The grace and power with which Malini moves embodies the persistent joy her grandmother carried through life, and now Malini carries through hers.

The art of Bharatanatyam was passed down from her grandmother to her mother to her. In this way, its history is one of matrilineal tradition—and one that greatly changed in the twentieth century. Women who performed Bharatanatyam in public were equated to prostitutes, because it was seen as immoral for a woman to publicly display her body. The tradition struggled to survive. Kolima learned the dance from male teachers who emphasized strict rules and discipline. She continued as a student until she married at the age of fourteen and moved to Bombay. While in Bombay, she taught Bharatanatyam, but her husband forbade her from ever seeing or participating in performances.

When her husband died, Kolima was expected to dress simply and withdraw from life. In spite of these cultural expectations, she wore silk saris and her best jewelry. Malini believes this reflects the “love of life” that helped her survive poverty and the struggles of being a single mother in India.

She opened a dance school in Bombay where she trained hundreds of students. Malini said she was “the most gentle dance teacher you’ll ever come across,” running her classroom with kindness and the joy. “Dance class was like playtime,” Malini continued, explaining that Bharatanatyam and other forms of traditional dance can be challenging to teach because students “hate the rigidity, the structure, the discipline, the coldness of it.” Children who only experience these elements of dance class won’t continue because they don’t associate dance with happy memories.

Malini Srinivasan
Malini Srinivasan at the 2017 Folklife Festival.
Photo by JB Weilepp, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
Malini Srinivasan
Malini Srinivasan at the 2017 Folklife Festival.
Photo by JB Weilepp, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

Malini takes inspiration from her grandmother as a teacher, saying that when she teaches she gives students “space to move and to sweat and to focus, a vibrant experience in their bodies.” Even if students don’t become professional dancers, they grow up active and engaged people.

“That doesn’t come out of thin air. That comes through engaging.”

Traditionally Bharatanatyam teachers don’t share information or exchange ideas, but Kolima wasn’t afraid to bring in other teachers when she felt she wasn’t knowledgeable enough on a subject. Acknowledging her strengths and weaknesses “made her perfect to carry on the art.” According to Malini, the art of Bharatanatyam is “an ocean,” and it’s impossible for one person to know everything.

Malini too works to knock down barriers. She invites her students and audience into the creative process, giving them a behind-the-scenes look into the form. Listening to her talk about breaking down the image of the prima donna dancer reminded me of watching mothers cake makeup onto their daughters’ faces at dance recitals. It can be challenging to prove the importance and the accessibility of dance as an art form when dancers are so often pushed into the bubble of perfection.

The value of creating community is something Malini’s family has passed down for generations. In her grandmother’s home, “if you wanted any privacy you had to lock yourself in the bathroom.” The two-bedroom apartment housed nine people and served as an afternoon dance studio for thirty students. Kolima hosted benefit concerts and performances with her students in Bombay.

After moving to D.C., Malini’s family carried on the communal tradition. They chose their house because the basement was perfectly suited for Malini’s mother’s Bharatanatyam class, and for her father’s impromptu concerts with visiting Carnatic musicians. Malini teaches classes at home as well and expects that her children will see being part of a large community as a norm.

Malini Srinivasan
Malini Srinivasan at the 2017 Folklife Festival.
Photo by JB Weilepp, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives

Watching her now—with each jump, Malini makes it clear she wishes to go through life with as light a heart as her grandmother. When I asked about her sense of responsibility for Bharatanatyam, she responded, “If I thought about it too much, it would seem like a burden.” She sees her role as a dancer and teacher as a unique privilege.

“I get to interact every day with these ideas and these movements, and it makes me feel good,” she said. “That has to do with being connected to the past and being able to carry something to the future.”

It’s also a unique way for her to connect with her family history.

“I don’t have to always engage with the past in a sad way. I think they taught me to lighten up a little—enjoy. That really is the best gift a parent could give a child.”

Malini dances to stay connected to her community, her culture, and herself. By dancing and teaching Bharatanatyam, she keeps her family history alive.

“In this way, I bring back the spirits and struggles of my mom and grandmom, and somehow it feels like I’m continuing what Kolima started many years ago in a different time and place.”

Emma Cregan is a media intern at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and a recent graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where she studied kinetic imaging. 

Oral history interview with William P. Daley, 2004 August 7-December 2

Archives of American Art
Transcript: 81 pages An interview of William P. Daley conducted 2004 August 7-December 2, by Helen W. Drutt English, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.
Daley speaks of his family and being raised in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York; his father teaching him to paint houses; his father's interest in art and literature; working with clay for the first time at the Massachusetts College of Art; attending college with other war veterans; living in a prison camp during World War II; learning ceramics from his mentor, Charles Abbott; marrying Catherine, also an art student at Mass Art; teaching workshops at summer schools such as the Penland School of Crafts; traveling to Ireland and Korea; the influence of Ireland on his artwork; the ceramic movement in America; creating functional pots; defining religion and the influence of his spirituality on his work; how the market for craft has changed during his career; his relationship with art dealers; having a studio in his home; teaching at the Philadelphia College of Art; being part of a community of artists as teachers; learning from colleagues and students; the importance of university art programs; how his work has been received; being inspired by books and periodicals; using clay as a medium of expression; working on commissioned projects; exhibiting his first pieces; social commentary in art; being involved in organizations such as the American Craft Council and NCECA; and plans for the future. Daley also recalls Frans and Marguerite Wildenhain, Dan Dailey, William Parry, Richard Rinehart, Wayne Higby, and others.
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