bigger pond

Archive for February, 2008

An All-Over Hue

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Dr. Paul Morton ranks among my favorite professors at Covenant. Besides being a tremendous history teacher, speaking in eminently quotable phrases, and dealing with college politics exclusively through the lens of sarcasm, Dr. Morton also had a remarkably specific code of dress.

On the days when he wasn’t wearing a sweater vest, he would stride into class clad entirely in a single color. He wore black, of course, like the erudite intellectual that he is. A black turtleneck, slightly faded black pants, a black belt, black socks, and black shoes. Sometimes he chose brown as the color of the day: a chocolate button-down, brown trousers, and coordinating belt and shoes. He wore a cream-and-khaki ensemble, too, and that one played with texture; the cable knit of the ivory sweater vest playing off of the khaki twill and cream jersey turtleneck.

Not that the man was afraid of color. He owned forest green pants around which he built a truly amazing outfit. He had kidney-bean colored pants, too. And while I occasionally cringed when his shades of olive green inhabited the shadowlands of neither-matching-nor-contrasting, I admired his commitment. Not everyone can pull off 6’4″ of eggplant.

But today I read a New York Magazine profile on New Yorkers who wear a single color — and not black — exclusively. My favorite was Elizabeth Sweetheart, a fabric designer who is deeply, passionately dedicated to kelly green.

elizabeth sweetheart

I guess Dr. Morton has a ways to go before he can count himself among the truly color-committed.

The Writing on the Wall

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

On Friday night I saw the writing on the wall… and it was mine.

It is a strange sensation to walk into a museum — a real museum, not Covenant’s Art Barn — and see one’s own words plastered on the wall. It is even stranger to see well-appointed museum donors, art history department professors, and unsuspecting members of the public intently reading those words so seriously.


Should I caution them? Should I warn them that those imperious museum object labels that appear so definitive and confident were written by… a grad student? Should I sidle up and ask if it makes sense?

Last semester, I interned for the dean of the Sam Fox School of Art and Design as he curated his exhibition On the Margins, a show of (very!) contemporary art which explores themes of war, disaster and displacement. I functioned largely as a research assistant, compiling files on each of the artists and artworks, assembling an annotated bibliography for sources dealing with visual depictions of war and disaster, composing artist biographies for the exhibition catalogue and writing wall text.

While the act of writing artist biographies and wall text is not in and of itself exhilarating, the payoff is — as this weekend proved — rather extraordinary. First off, it makes for a nice line on the good ol’ professional curriculum vitae. Second, wealthy museum donors invite you to quite lovely private receptions where you will be fed bacon-wrapped scallops, mini crab cakes, and excellent wine. Third, you get invited to tag along with the artists who come into town for the exhibition opening. This means that you get to go on a private tour of the Putlizer Foundation’s Dan Flavin exhibition with Mrs. Pulitzer, assorted area curators, and artists Willie Doherty, Willie Cole, Jane Hammond, and Thaddeus Stroud. It’s all very surreal.

Also, you feel slightly obligated to wear more black than usual so you can fit in with the curators.

The moral of the story, dear reader and visitor-of-museums, is that you should never fully entrust yourself to the wall text. It may have been written by a grad student who just needed to get a good meal.