Editor's Note

It’s All Barbara’s Fault…

…or actually Joan’s.

I’d been tossing around the concept of this blog for a few weeks when I sat down yesterday morning with coffee and a copy of  the June 2010 Smithsonian. New Yorker dance critic Joan Acocella contributed a great profile about Barbara Morgan which explores the photographer behind the iconic image of Martha Graham dancing in Letter to the World. The picture is also called The Kick… you can look at it in the Smithsonian article but you’ve likely seen it many times. It was used as part of the design for the commemorative stamp in honor of Graham and probably in every high school history text book that bothers to mention American art in the twentieth century.

The great writing of the article hints at a brilliant, temperamental artist unafraid to bend others to her will for the sake of art. She labored alongside luminaries like Graham and Georgia O’Keefe but her life and work remain in the shadows. I wondered why, and I wanted to do something about it.

A web search yielded very little, though apparently if you name your daughter Barbara Morgan, she’s going to do something interesting because I also learned about an astronaut and a country music songwriter. A visit to my local library also turned up a civil rights leader by the same name, but no biography about the woman who co-founded Aperture magazine.

I did find a Wikipedia biography that cites actual books but omits the fact that she and her husband had at least one child, a fact I gleaned from their grandson’s gift of some of her work to UMassAmherst. Kendra Greene has written a nice summary of Morgan’s accomplishments that museums and galleries apparently use freely.

All that is lovely, but I wonder what it was like dragging around a Leica in the thirties and forties… and what she would think of our digital world. I’m hoping to visit the Library of Congress and read some of what Morgan herself wrote in Aperture and for her various books. I’ll keep you posted…

Editor's Note

Never Noticed…

Recently I was reading a Washington Post article about two sites that curate great stories – long, deep reads that illuminate and challenge. When I examined Longform and Longreads I discovered that the editors are providing some of the best articles available on the web. I found much to love, including some great profiles of women as well as articles by top female journalists. Yet there’s a serious imbalance in articles about women. We are half the population yet apparently still invisible in many ways. Unfortunately, an analysis of our most influential media outlets by VIDA found that this under-representation permeates our literary culture.

Therefore, I’m spending the summer seeking, sharing and sometimes writing articles about women – scientists, geniuses, artists, leaders and heroines. I’m not trying to shove women’s work into a special corner all its own, but I think it would be useful and helpful to have a reading space that celebrates women and their accomplishments. And I’m wondering if men will find it it interesting and accessible as well since they can peruse anonymously the way I read Esquire and GQ.

Got a favorite heroine? Send me her name… Wrote about someone amazing? Send me the link. Read something great I may have missed? Let me know.