The stories of Chinese American women who prevailed in legal battles in American courts are the focus of the traveling exhibit “Herstory 2: The Legal History of Chinese American Woman” now showing in Ekstrom Library through mid-October.
The exhibit features rare photographs and case descriptions of efforts by Chinese-American women to gain legal standing in the U.S. It is shown on the tall display tables in Ekstrom Library’s east side first floor and was launched to coincide with the Mid-Autumn Festival, a traditional Chinese holiday.
Beginning in 1852, the exhibit documents women who fought for equal treatment in the eyes of the law, for citizenship and the right to public education. At a time of public debate around immigration and national identity, this exhibit sheds light on the brave women who fought for their rights, and, in doing so, helped shape a brighter future for younger generations.
The women profiled in the exhibit cleared a path for Chinese American women to gain basic legal standing in the US, and according to the curator’s notes, disproved the ancient Chinese saying that “Only unpleasant endings emerge from lawsuits.“
Exhibit materials are drawn from the personal collection of Dr. Chang C. Chen, a U.S. attorney and author who was born in Taiwan who has also served as a Taiwan senator and television host in Hong Kong. She has long advocated for the rights of Taiwanese and worked pro bono to bring legal challenges in support of Chinese Americans.
This exhibition is the second of the “Herstory” series Dr. Chen curated. While the collection started as a small personal project, the exhibit has toured and appeared in international libraries and museums in Taiwan, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hawaii, and New York, among other cities. When she started this project, a search in the index of the Library of Congress for the phrase “Chinese American Women” yielded not a single result, now thanks to Herstory, tens of thousands of entries exist.
Early posters and other works by internationally renowned Louisville artist Julius Friedman are featured in the exhibit Graphic Pioneer: The Early Poster Designs of Julius Friedman, 1965-1980, hosted by Photographic Archives, part of UofL’s Archives and Special Collections (ASC). The exhibit opened with a reception on July 14 featuring the dedication and renaming of the Photographic Archives gallery in Friedman’s honor.
Friedman’s sister, Carol Abrams, donated the bulk of his artistic works to the Photographic Archives after his passing in 2017. Ms. Abrams states, “Julius loved to mentor students and fellow artists. In giving his work to the Archives and Special Collections, students can learn from his work.” Ms. Abrams also generously provided support to renovate the gallery, enhance storage for ASC’s photographic holdings, including Friedman’s work, and prepare the collection for research by the community. This preparatory work is ongoing, but the full collection is expected to be open to the public in 2023.
Beloved by the local arts community, Friedman was also highly regarded among international audiences. Perhaps best known for the posters “Fresh Paint” and “Toe on Egg,” Friedman created posters and other graphic works for a broad range of clients. Outside of his design work, Friedman created his own artwork through photography – often printing on unique surfaces like metals and fabrics – as well as sculpture, furniture design, collage, book art, and collaborative video. While this exhibit focuses on his early posters, the collection includes this broad range of media and formats.
“Julius Friedman was such a significant figure in our local arts scene,” said Carrie Daniels, Director of ASC. “We are delighted to serve as the home of his archive, and to present a slice of it to the community in this exhibition.”
Friedman was a graphic design alumnus of UofL and had a decades-long relationship with the University Libraries. His work frequently appeared in ASC exhibits, including a 2012 celebration of Photographic Archives’ 50th Anniversary, which featured Friedman’s photographic capture of a ballerina in mid-swirl. Friedman’s close friend, former Art Library Director Gail Gilbert, inspired one of Friedman’s later efforts, a project titled The Book. Gilbert suggested that Friedman create works of art from old books that otherwise would have been thrown away, and he ran with the project, taking old books, tearing them, twisting them, boring into them, reconstituting them and creating art. The Book consists of 130 photographs of that art.
Among ASC’s Oral History Center (ohc.library.louisville.edu) digital offerings are two recordings of conversations between Abrams and ASC archivist and local historian Tom Owen. In them, Abrams discusses her memories of growing up with Julius, her older brother and only sibling, and how she came to work alongside him in his studio and then gallery to exhibit and sell his work commercially. Abrams recounts observing her brother’s talent burgeoning in childhood and watching him become successful as an adult. She also talks about establishing a nonprofit foundation in her brother’s name to help young people pursue academic degrees in the arts, the Julius Friedman Foundation (juliusfriedman.org).
The exhibition will run through December 16 in the Julius Friedman Gallery, on the lower level of Ekstrom Library. For more information, contact Elizabeth Reilly (502 852-8730; email@example.com).
A trove of work by Louisville artist Julius Friedman (1943-2017), including a diverse mix of graphic design, books, commercial art, and photography, was recently donated to University of Louisville’s Archives and Special Collections (ASC), by Friedman’s sister, Louisville philanthropist Carol Abrams.
And now Friedman’s work will soon be preserved, organized, cataloged and available for public viewing thanks to additional funding from Abrams which allows ASC to hire a project archivist.
“It’s a rich and unique group of materials and there are so many different types,” said Haley-Marie Ellegood, who will serve a one-year term as archivist for the Julius Friedman Collection. “He worked with widely different formats – there is graphic design, posters, photography, and at the end of his career he got into bookmaking. He was moving into video production when he died.”
A recent Indiana University graduate with a Master of Library Science, Ellegood specialized in archives and records management and worked in the IU Archives. In addition to researching, cataloging, and preserving the collection, Ellegood will help select items for an exhibit of Friedman’s works to be held in mid-July in ASC’s gallery.
“He really loved working for nonprofit groups and he mostly worked for free,” said Ellegood. “He wasn’t really into making money, but he created annual reports for corporations and was able to charge a fair fee for it. That type of payment apparently funded his work for nonprofits.”
Friedman was well known for his commercial photography, graphic design, and iconic posters, including “Fresh Paint”; “Ballerina Toe on Egg” for the Louisville Ballet; and “Ice Cream in French Horn” for the Louisville Orchestra.
In addition to many of Friedman’s iconic posters, the collection includes much of his photography, and graphic design for menus, postcards, stationery, event programs, and flyers. Other materials include some of his written work, including a few notebooks and some correspondence. ASC has had a relationship with Friedman going back decades. Although the Filson Historical Society has a small collection of Friedman’s art, ASC holds the largest part of the collection.
Ellegood says her love of archival work grew out of her love of history, her subject major as an undergraduate. “I love learning about important people in historic places and from historic times. And I enjoy making information accessible to people, so they can appreciate it.”
Processing Friedman’s collection is an exciting first professional project after graduate school for Ellegood. “His art really makes you think about what’s going on, it’s not what you would expect. You wouldn’t expect a ballerina to balance on an egg. It challenges your preconceived notions.”
“September 11, 2001: The Day That Changed the World”
Ekstrom Library will showcase the national exhibit September 11, 2001: The Day That Changed the World, which presents the history of 9/11, its origins, and its ongoing implications through the personal stories of those who witnessed and survived the attacks. Told in a series of 14 posters, the exhibit presents archival photographs and images of artifacts from the 9/11 Museum’s permanent collection to encourages critical thinking about the legacies of 9/11. The posters appear on Ekstrom’s first floor, east side, near the elevators.
Twenty years after the attacks, with terrorism still a threat today, the events of 9/11 and its aftermath remind us that we may never be able to prevent all the actions of people intent on harming others, but we do have control over how we respond to such events. As we witness history unfolding in our own time, the ways we choose to respond—both large and small—can demonstrate the best of human nature after even the worst of days.
“During this 20th anniversary year, it is our privilege to share these lessons with a new generation, teach them about the ongoing repercussions of the 9/11 attacks and inspire them with the idea that, even in the darkest of times, we can come together, support one another and find the strength to renew and rebuild,” said 9/11 Memorial & MuseumPresident and CEO Alice M. Greenwald.
The poster exhibition was developed by the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy Demands Wisdom. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for Humanities.
Bridwell Art Library staff member Kathy Moore reflects on the legacy of renowned fiber artist Alma Lesch and fondly recalls taking her class during her sophomore year at UofL.
Alma Lesch’s connection to UofL is long and storied; during her first stint as a teacher, she joined the Louisville School of Art in 1961, and after that was absorbed by UofL, she became an Adjunct Faculty in the Hite Fine Arts Department (where she founded the Textiles program) until retiring in 1982. Alma’s second and more famous career took off while she was in her 40s, when she developed fabric collage portraits that were adorned with personal objects, which earned her accolades of Master Craftsman by the American Crafts Council (1974), and The Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Arts (1987).
1973 “Southern Gothic,” 27.5″ x 39″, fabric collage portrait; shown in first World Craft Exhibition, Toronto, Canada 1974, currently on display at Bridwell Art Library, UofL.
Alma Lesch workshop “Vegetable Dyeing,” 2nd Southeast Region Workshop, Memphis Academy of Arts, June 9-11, 1967.
My small connection to Alma was in 1976, when I was a sophomore here at UofL. Although my major was Biology, my work-study job was at the Bridwell Art Library, which worked out well since I loved historic costumes and crafts. When I saw a class on Natural Dyes I jumped at it. Held in the 1900 brick building now known as the Honors Overseers House, and taught by Alma, I didn’t know she was already famous, both for her textile arts but as the author of the book we used in class: ‘Vegetable Dyeing: 151 Color Recipes’ (1970). Huge pots full of different plants, mosses, barks and insects boiled on table-top gas burners, while we hand-twisted hanks of yarns into skeins that took on the whole range of colors in the rainbow. Indigo (blue), cochineal bugs (scarlet), onion skins (orange) and pokeberries (pink) all were tried with varying results. It was magic! Alma was patient with our mistakes, but her total focus on the craft and no-nonsense work ethic imbued in all of us a respect for the old timey traditions that were relevant once again, and that sticks with me still.
“Vegetable Dyeing; 151 color recipes for dyeing yarns and fabrics with natural materials” by Alma Lesch. New York, Watson-Guptill Publications , ISBN: 9780823056002, Art Library Book Stacks TP 919 .L47.
Bridwell Art Library student employees Michelle Cao, Michael Chou, and Maree Grosser graduated from the University of Louisville this spring.
Michelle Cao graduated with a BA in public health. Here’s what Michelle has to say about her experience working at the Art Library:
“Moving to Louisville to attend UofL was a hard but best decision I have ever made. I have changed dramatically over the past 4 years and I believe for the better. From the friends I have made, to the jobs I have, the classes I have taken and much more, has positively shaped the person I am today and gave me the confidence to study abroad. It forced me to break out of my shell and really get to know myself and what I wanted to accomplish in life. By working at the art library, it taught and left me with experiences that made me feel like an art major just for a few hours a week but gave me a chance to explore my creativity and unlock new ones.”
Michael Chou graduated with a BFA in graphic design from the Hite Art Institute. After graduation, he will work for Zimmer Design, a full-service branding + creative studio, in Louisville. Here’s what Michael has to say about his experience working at the Art Library:
“The art library is my go-to place for art and design inspiration. And to work here means more exposure to interesting books to stir up my imagination, working with fun coworkers, and an opportunity to promote the wonderful environment unique to the UofL campus. I will really miss coming to the art library between classes to check out books or study.”
Here are a few samples of his works:
- “A Typographic Resource of Adobe & Google Fonts” is a 750+ paged type specimen book and resource designed from scratch—kind of like a catalog for fonts—to help designers locate free and quality fonts.
- “Lunar Zodiacs” is an illustrative design concept for the Chinese Lunar Zodiacs, featuring color combinations inspired by Chinese imperial textiles.
- “L&N Federal Credit Union: Rebrand” is a rebranding design project where Michael aimed to create a stronger visual identity for the organization while maintaining its significant legacy.
Maree Grosser graduated with a BFA in photography from the Hite Art Institute. Here’s what Maree has to say about her experience working at the Art Library:
“I have loved working at the Art Library for the last two and a half years! Working here has not only educated me further in art, but it has also taught me patience, strong work ethic, and the importance of a good printer. My favorite things to do while working are shifting books, looking through are incredible rare books section, and eating the delicious baked goods that Trish and Kathy bring in. I am grateful for getting to work with so many incredible people and will miss them the most when I graduate this semester. After I graduate, I am hoping to further my fine art career and education. My goal is to get my masters and help others extend their education in all things art. I am so thankful for getting my degree at UofL. This school has helped me find lifelong friends, and it has helped me find my passion for art.”
Here are a few samples of her works:
- Left: “To Remember You (Rosemary)” from the BFA Show.
- Top right: Maree pictured with her work at the BFA Show.
- Bottom right: Still life.
Michelle, Michael, and Maree – congratulations on your graduation from UofL and thank you for your hard work and dedication to the Art Library!
Here are more ways to celebrate the Class of 2020:
BFA Thesis Exhibition
This semester the spring 2020 BFA Thesis Exhibition is presented virtually. Visit the exhibition page to read the artist statements and view their work.
Graphic Design Portfolio Day
Every spring the Graphic Design BFA program hosts a Graphic Design Portfolio Day to showcase their final design portfolios and meet with local and regional professionals. This year the Portfolio Day was presented virtually. Visit the portfolio page to see the students’ work.
Interior Design Portfolio Day
Every spring our graduating BFA Interior Design students present their portfolios in a day-long event to celebrate with family and friends and to present their work to regional professionals. This year the Portfolio Day was presented online. Visit the portfolio page to see the students’ work.
While walking last week in Germantown with Teddy, her medium-sized Terrier mix, Libraries Assessment Librarian Anita Hall saw a poster that looked familiar. It was a larger version of historic lapel “badges” issued to citizens during another difficult era: Louisville’s great flood of 1937.
The badges contained an upbeat pledge that ended with the catchphrase “I Dare You To Catch Me Not Smiling,” and were widely distributed after the historic 1937 flood to boost morale. Now posters are reappearing locally during the COVID-19 era in a variety of colors that differ from the badges’ original orange. An enterprising individual must have recognized a similar mood arising in our current reality and thought we could use the boost.
“It made me quite emotional to think about other times that people in the city have come together to weather a crisis,” Hall said. “Seeing these makes me feel very connected to the whole city.”
The Ohio River’s over-spill engulfed 70% of Louisville and 90% of Jeffersonville, Indiana, and devastated other communities along the river from Pennsylvania to Illinois. Getting back to normal life after the waters receded was a shared public challenge. During this time, Louisville Mayor Neville Miller created the Committee on Morale to prevent panic and encourage cooperation, service, and determination. Notices, broadsides, and posters were posted throughout the city to offer ways to cope and recover from the extensive damage.
In 2017, Archives and Special Collections held an exhibit showcasing these artifacts and archival photography from its collections chronicling the flood’s impact. A part of the exhibit was Mayor Miller’s scrapbook kept during the era and now housed in ASC’s Rare Books collection – it includes the original orange flyers. Also part of the exhibit was a quarantine pass allowing individuals to leave their homes for a period of time; it is collected in ASC’s C.H. Burkholder Papers.
“Even though I burst into tears when I first saw the poster, I’m smiling now!” Hall said.
Let’s all keep smiling!
(Thanks to Anita Hall and Rebecca Pattillo.)
In honor of Women’s History Month, “Louisville’s Fiber Legend: The Life and Work of Alma Lesch,” is on display at the University of Louisville’s Bridwell Art Library. The exhibit consists of artifacts from the Alma Lesch manuscript collection. The papers in this collection include correspondence with galleries, museums and schools concerning exhibitions and workshops; articles in newspapers and magazines about Alma Lesch; exhibition catalogs which include Lesch’s work; supporting materials for workshops Lesch conducted; publications and newsletters from Shakertown; articles, newspaper clippings and ephemera on various art-related topics; lists of students and other documents from her tenure at UofL.
Alma Wallace Lesch (1917-1999) lived her whole life in Kentucky, and although her career as a working artist started in her 40s, she attained a width and breadth of textile arts that few can attain.
Earning a B.S./Education from Murray State (1941), and a Masters of Education from the University of Louisville (1962), Alma had her first career as a 3rd grade teacher, then taught at Louisville School of Art (1961-1978) and became an Adjunct Faculty at University of Louisville (1975-1982); while at UofL she founded the Textiles Program. She also taught at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and Arrowmont School of Crafts. By 1974, she was named a Master Craftsman by the American Crafts Council, was awarded The Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Arts in 1987.
Although Alma didn’t start her professional artistic career until the 1960s, her first quilt was started at age 5 and completed at age 12, while learning embroidery and sewing from her mother and grandmother.
Most noted for her innovative fabric portraits made by sewing vintage clothing while adding embellishments that helped describe the person, Alma also worked with quilts, embroidered art, macramé, jewelry made from beads or buttons, collaged textile sculptures, woodcuts, basketry, and glass mosaics.
Alma is also a leading authority on natural dyes, writing several books.
Her works are found in several museums including the Speed Art Museum, Owensboro Museum of Fine Art, Evansville Museum of Arts and Science, the American Crafts Museum of New York, the Arrowmont School in Gatlinburg, and the Flint (Mich.) Institute of Art, as well as the Bridwell Art Library/UofL.
The Louisville Courtier Journal called her the “Undisputed Grande Dame of KY textiles and a pioneer in the National Crafts Movement.” A historical marker is found in her honor in Shepherdsville, KY.
To honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King on his birthday, all University of Louisville’s libraries will participate in an exhibit of posters and materials celebrating Dr. King’s life, “A Walk Through the Civil Rights Movement with the University Libraries.”
The exhibit highlights pivotal events in the civil rights movement in the United States, beginning with the Brown v Board of Education decision in 1954, and ending with Dr. King’s assassination in 1968. Visitors can follow the panels’ timeline starting in Kornhauser Library, then moving to Music, Law, Archives and Special Collections, Ekstrom, and ending at the Art Library.
The featured panels commemorating the civil rights movement once hung in Ekstrom Library for a decade. Each library will display some of the panels and supplement the exhibit with their own materials.
An accompanying MLK digital timeline and Library Guide (LibGuide) will reference all materials displayed in the exhibit, showcasing the numerous civil rights-related works within each library’s collection. It will be linked to the University Libraries’ website.