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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago History Museum’

At the Chic Chicago exhibit the third most popular dress after the Infanta (see post  1.29.11) was the evening gown by Charles Fredrick Worth, 1884, made in France.  Worth was an Englishman who set up shop in Paris in 1846, at the age of 21.  He dressed the aristocracy including the French empress Eugenie and the actor Sarah Bernhardt.  He is credited with starting haute couture, fashion shows with runways and the dictatorship of designers. The evening gown we had in the show was made of silk and velvet and was considered, in its day, to be quite daring because of its restraint and omission of decorations. To me it has a military look, despite the fact that the corset cinches the waist.  Another comparison that comes to mind is that the woman is behind bars.  The slavish status of women at that time was clearly reflected in the fashion.  You can argue that this was a step towards greater freedom of movement from the hoop skirts of the 1860’s but, clearly, we had a long way to go.

Ann Hollander, in her book “Seeing Through Clothes,” says that at any time in history the clothes that people wear are thought to be natural to the body.  If that’s true, then the Victorians had a pretty perverse notion of nature.

The women who chose to be drawn in this gown were either getting in touch with their inner submissive scullery maid or the madam of a house, or they had a riotous sense of humor about the dress and what it stood for.  As you can see from my adaptation of Mr. Worth’s creation, I fell in with the riotous crowd. ———————————————-

 

 

 

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All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com

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Drawing Chicago school children with Lincoln was rewarding for me.  But there was a special pleasure in drawing tourists who spoke exotic languages.  Aramaic anyone?  I found it particularly poignant to draw visitors from Korea, China and Vietnam–with Lincoln.   For them, being drawn like this seemed to be the highlight of their day.  Even with the language difficulties I could tell that they knew all about Abraham Lincoln’s life and death, and were absolutely tickled to be shown sitting on his lap.  I know that these drawings are now framed in those distant cities and villages and probably serve as a source of inspiration to innumerable people.   Hey, in some parts of the world, inspiration is hard to come by.  The story of Lincoln tends to move people.  And images are powerful movers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://artamaze.wordpress.com

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

 

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Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809. I had the privilege of drawing visitors at the Chicago History Museum on the bicentennial of his birth—not just on the birthday itself, but for a whole year after that.  He is probably even more beloved than Washington, owing to his humble origins, his wit and certainly to the fact that for him we have actual photographs. He knew he wasn’t photogenic.  One of the stories he told was that a woman in public once told him that with a face like that he should stay indoors.   During his presidency, Lincoln was often photographed and getting an appealing likeness of his craggy face and obstreperous hair must have been a challenge to the  photographer’s skills in lighting and posing.  The most approachable photos of him are by the Scottish born photographer Alexander Gardner and I chose Gardner’s full frontal shot of the face for my drawing.  It’s still an extremely melancholy Lincoln I was looking at, but I tried to suggest that he was thoughtful rather than sad or suffering from illness by putting a pile of books on the bench he’s sitting on.  I knew I would be drawing a lot of kids on school outings to the museum.  So, yes, books would not only be appropriate as a prop for Lincoln but would also serve as a reminder to the kids.  Read books!!

Imagine this drawing framed in Audrey’s (shown here) room.  When she learns about Lincoln in school or sees the Lincoln sculpture by Daniel Chester French in Grant Park, she will feel a personal connection to the president and perhaps write an extra fine term paper on him.  That’s worth my effort.

The drawing of Lincoln was Xeroxed on gloss paper, the kind I draw on in China Marker.   The visitor who wanted to be drawn with Lincoln was then drawn as if sitting on his thigh or sharing the bench with him.  The addition of the visitor blended in perfectly with the Lincoln already on the paper.

Some ten to twelve-year-olds knew very little about Lincoln and some—especially the ones wearing Lincoln t-shirts—were Lincoln scholars and couldn’t contain themselves in reciting all the things they knew about the president.

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://artamaze.wordpress.com

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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