It’s natural to think about the processes that produced the food in your daily sack lunch, but have you ever stopped to consider the manufacturing techniques behind the sack itself? The flat-bottomed brown paper bags we encounter constantly—in the lunch context, at grocery stores, in gift shops—are as unassuming as they are ubiquitous, but the story underlying them deserves recognition. At the center of it is a precocious young woman, born in Maine on the heels of the Industrial Revolution and raised in New Hampshire. Her name is Margaret Kni
Continue reading Meet the Female Inventor Behind Mass-Market Paper Bags
An estimated crowd of 100,000 people clogged the intersections in Chicago’s central business district in May of 1945 for a war bond rally, one of several marking the War Department drive that week. Police had traffic stopped for blocks approaching the stage at State and Madison Streets, and reporters noted sales clerks and customers hanging out of store windows to catch a glimpse of any famous performers or war heroes who might arrive. Continue reading Seventy-Five Years Ago, the Military’s Only All-Black Female Band Battled the War Department and Won
The Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol includes two statues from each of the 50 states, depicting notable people in the states’ histories. Most of the collection, displayed in National Statuary Hall and throughout the Capitol, depict white men. Now, for the first time, a state-commissioned statue representing a black American will join their ranks. Continue reading U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall Collection Will Get Its First State-Commissioned Statue of a Black American
What does it mean to redefine art history? For Mickalene Thomas, a luminary of the contemporary art world who specializes in dazzling collage portraits, it means “reclaiming canonized images of beauty and reinterpreting them.” Her take on Édouard Manet’s celebrated 1863 canvas Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass), in which two formally dressed men lounge in a wooded scene with a nude woman, is the bold image above, which she titles Le déjeuner sur l’herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires (The Three Black Women). This 10- by 24-foot collage, part of a new group exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum, depicts the subjects in a mosaic of vibrant colors, fragmented shapes, rhinestones and glittered Afros. “These women are so grounded and perfectly comfortable in their own space,” says Catharina Manchanda, a curator at the museum. “While we might be looking at them, they are also sizing us up.”
Continue reading How Mickalene Thomas Is Ushering in a New Wave of Contemporary Art
During her decades-long political career, Shirley Chisholm established a lot of firsts. A community activist and educator-turned-congresswoman from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant in New York, Chisholm became the first black woman ever to be elected to the House of Representatives and a founding member of both the Congressional Black Caucus and later, the Congressional Women’s Caucus. But perhaps most significantly, just a few years after arriving in Congress, Chisholm became the first black person–and first woman–to run as a major party candidate for president of the United States, breaking down barriers and paving a path for people like President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Continue reading 44 Years Ago, Shirley Chisholm Became the First Black Woman to Run For President