Friday, July 14, 2017
I popped by SFMOMA yesterday, and saw the show Side by Side: Duel Portraits of Artists, which contained a mix of old favorites and new discoveries (and from which the first five images in this post come), as well as a few other newly-hung treats tucked here and there (starting with the Donald Judd pieces below).
Above: Travis Collinson
Thursday, July 13, 2017
there was a day we
dressed all in blue
and a day we
there was the day I
wore my gray it’s-it
tee-shirt for the
and the day I wore a
rainbow hippy outfit
for the summer of
love theme and
someone said to me
do you wish we had
every day and I
photo credit: Caitlin Kirkpatrick
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
I recently had the honor of writing this post for the Chronicle Books blog and am happy to get to share it with you here:
If you ask me, by far one of the coolest things to happen to publishing in the 21st century so far is We Need Diverse Books—a grassroots coalition of authors, bloggers, librarians, educators, and industry folks coming together to “advocate essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.”
The organization’s mission is to “put more books featuring diverse characters into the hands of all children” and its vision is “a world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book.”
Here at Chronicle Books we admire and love what We Need Diverse Books does, and we partnered with them last Giving Thursday to help get some of our own diverse children’s books into classrooms that need them.
Simply put: it’s a group that’s inspiring as heck. And you know what I wish? I wish the adult publishing world would get inspired by We Need Diverse Books and do something similar for grown-up books.
Because in the same way that that it’s essential for children to see kids like themselves reflected back to them in the books they read, it’s essential for adults to have books that reflect back their own experiences and those of their people.
And in the same way that diverse books help children learn the about the lives of people different from themselves, so too do adults also need a greater understanding of lives different from their own. Both children and adults need constant reminders that different isn’t wrong, that the true nature of our world is one of variety and multiplicity, that fear of otherness is our enemy and empathy our one true purpose.
We need diverse adult fiction. We need diverse art books (my own personal bailiwick). We need diverse history, and spirituality, and humor, and celebrity memoirs. We need diverse books about everything and everybody because books are for everybody.
Do diverse adult books already exist? Of course they do. But could we do better? Of course we could. Just go back to the statistics about who works in publishing—the industry is 79% white—and it’s clear it’s an imperfect system.
So consider this a rallying cry. If you work in adult publishing and are reading this; or if you’re an adult book author or librarian or blogger or anyone who feels inspired by what We Need Diverse Books is doing on the children’s side and, like me, wishes we had some equivalent thing on the adult side, get in touch!
As Toni Morrison said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Maybe the same thing is true here. If there’s a grassroots organization you wish existed but has yet to be created, then you must create it. Who’s with me?
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
I've always kept a list of the books I read, but just lately I've started taking their pictures as well. This turns out to be great fun. Here's what I've read since Mother's Day (minus one book I finished last night and so haven't yet had a chance to take its photo in natural light). This doesn't, however, include comics or audio books. Hmm, I wonder if I should start finding some way to log those as well...
Monday, July 10, 2017
I thought long and hard about what to write on this one. I'm still not sure I captured everything I wanted to, but it's a start:
Does encouraging our daughters to play soccer in hot pink cleats affirm their girlhood and their strength? Or does it undermine one, of the other, or both? And should we be concerned that we're maybe letting corporations make those decisions for us?
Friday, July 7, 2017
I love this idea of what my father refers to on his art blog Spencer Alley as the Individual Painted Likeness. Every now and then you see a painting that looks, not--as many paintings do--like some sort of generalized or idealized person*, but rather exactly like some particular living and breathing person who walked down the street in their day, and who you can easily imagine seeing walking down your street in your day. The face of an actual person. My dad has gathered a whole group of such images created between 1900 and 1910, and I am pilfering my few favorites from that group to show you here.
*This is not to say that the paintings of generalized faces cannot also be wonderful and enjoyable (indeed, representational art would be in big trouble were that the case), just that these sorts of images are wonderful and enjoyable in their own separate way.
Above: Richard Gerstl
Helen Margaret Spanton
Edmund Charles Tarbell
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
William Sergeant Kendall