Wearable Art from Maurice Greenia, Jr.

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“The job of art is to turn time into things.” (Robert Genn)

Summer is my favorite time of year!  I’m a “summer” person!  Oh, the other seasons are nice and all.  Each has its own unique expression.  But, for me, you can’t beat the full complement of experience packed into a perfect summer day.  For me, summer is a special type of color that seems to stretch from June to August.  And summer days are filled with a seemingly endless array of shapes that hold those colors.

Maurice Greenia, Jr. has found a way to capture those colorful shapes and fashion them into wearable art. And he does this a lot! His overall archive is a treasure house of images that offer a unique way to spend a summer day, and the Magnets and Pins collection is the perfect place to start.

Maurice’s Magnet and Pin Collection is especially intriguing. There are currently 294 images in this interesting collection waiting for your visit. Each one is a unique expression, each is titled, and each is signed.  I would challenge you to find two alike!

In the introduction to this collection, we discover that,

“Maurice Greenia, Jr. painted several hundred miniatures on magnets and pins. He’d take discarded political buttons or refrigerator magnets, and coat them with white gesso so the paint would stick better and not flake off.

Like his larger paintings, these would go in many directions, pictorially. Some depict people or animals; others are more abstract. Some have bright colors; others are muted or monochromatic.

Maurice views these as means of getting his work out to the audience in a more affordable format: People enjoy wearing the painted pins, including the artist himself.”

Contribution by Linda Papa, Digital Technician

Defining American Slavery in 1861

Weekly Anglo-African, March 9, 1861

In an editorial published in the the Weekly Anglo-African newspaper on March 9, 1861, there’s a review of a recent book (titled, American slavery distinguished from the slavery of English theorists, and justified by the law of nature) on the defining of slavery and slaves as human beings.  The writer of this article compares this recent publication with another book published by John H. Van Evrie (another pro-slavery writer) about the same time. The focus is on the question of whether a slave owner has the right to take the life of a slave when he chooses. And this question comes down to the definition of slavery itself.

Dr. Seabury defines American slavery in this way:  “And if I am asked to state precisely what I mean by American slavery, I answer that a slave is a person who is related to society through another person called as master, to whom he owes due service, or labor for life, and from whom he is entitled to receive support and protection.”

It seems Dr. Seabury argues that slavery agrees with the “Law of Nature” and this is one reason he also agrees with it. The editor points out the flaws in Dr. Seabury’s definition and compares Dr. Seabury’s reasoning with his own experience of slavery. While Dr. Seabury’s definition seems lofty, wordy, and aloof, the editor offers examples from actual state laws that indicate the opposite of this interpretation.  The editor argues that the “…dollar value of the slave, and not the law, is the only protection to the slave’s life.”

But while the article begins with emotion, the argument ends with the logic of John Locke. The editor prefers the definition offered by Locke in his book, Two Treatises of Government: “To be a slave is to be subject to the absolute, arbitrary power of another; as men do not have this power even over themselves, they cannot sell or otherwise grant it to another. One that is deserving of death, i.e., who has violated the law of nature, may be enslaved. This is, however, ‘but the state of war continued’ (2nd Tr., §24), and even one justly a slave therefore has no obligation to obedience.”

The Weekly Anglo-African newspaper, in circulation in New York between 1859 and 1865, was among the first black newspapers.  It focused on communication within the black community, and helped weave together a people struggling to find a place in the predominately white America of this time.  It connected free people of color, encouraged the young, and offered a link with like minds.  These newspapers became a way out of despair, a safety net, and a forum for expression.

Use the magnifier tool to gain a closer look at this article in the Black Abolitionist Archive.  It offers a well written glimpse into the often irrational discussions on slavery taking place just before Emancipation.  (The “Dr. Seabury” the article refers to is Dr. Samuel Seabury, Protestant Episcopal minister known for his justification of slavery during this time.)

Contribution by Linda Papa, Digital Technician

A Summer Reading Sugggestion

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During those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer when the sun is high in the sky and the air feels warm and comforting, it’s nice to find a cozy spot and dive into some interesting reading.  If you’re like some people, you’re reading at least two books at once.  Others find happiness in the latest novel or a stack of magazine articles.  These days readers often prefer electronic reading sources, whether it’s a book in digital format or something interesting on the web.

We have a suggestion for those of you who are searching for something inspiring, creative, and delightful, as well as educational: the [SIC] Student Arts Journal archive. In the introduction to this collection, [SIC] is described in this way:

“UDM’s irreverent, profound, and visually innovative undergraduate arts journal. Established in 1992, [sic] is published annually by the English Department’s Dudley Randall Center for Print Culture. The journal is edited and designed by students and features photography, fine art, poetry, fiction, and prose. Its mission: giving voice and vision to UDM’s exceptionally creative student body.”

The best way to really know this journal, however, is to spend some time with it.  It’s easy to get to and fun to read. Whether you’re skimming though the pages, reading one article at a time, or reading from cover to cover, you’ll have plenty of material to choose from and lots of visual variety to play with.

Contribution by Linda Papa, Digital Technician

Celebrating Independence

 

All Americans celebrate Independence Day (July 4th) as a federal holiday commemorating the Declaration of Independence signed on July 4, 1776. This event marked this country’s freedom from Great Britain during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783).

But did you know that August 1 (Emancipation Day) was celebrated as a day of independence and liberation for thousands of enslaved and formerly enslaved people in this country and others for years after slavery was abolished in the West Indies on this day in 1833?  This one act (the British Slavery Abolition Act) freed 700,000 in West Indies, 20,000 in Mauritius, 40,000 in South Africa.  (See Abolition of Slavery timeline here).  And while it would be another 30 years before the Emancipation Proclamation officially ended slavery in this country, this major legal action in the British West Indies offered hope for further reasoned laws abolishing slavery in all other countries forever.  Quite a reason to celebrate.

And while Emancipation Day (August 1) is today overshadowed by Independence Day (July 4) in this country, August 1 is still celebrated in Caribbean countries such as Barbados, Jamaica, and Bermuda.

*** Side note of interest here:  Within the U.S., there are several states that celebrate their own Emancipation Day on dates associated with the end of slavery for their state.  So, for example, Texas celebrates Juneteenth on June 19th.  In Mississippi, the date is May 8 (the celebration there is called Eight o’ May). ***

Below is a page from an Emancipation Day speech delivered in 1849 by little known black abolitionist Abner H. Francis.  This 17 page speech was published in a black newspaper called the North Star on August 17 of that year and can be found in the Black Abolitionist Archive among our digital collections.  In this speech, Francis spoke eloquently and passionately for the cause of freedom, and for a reasoned approach to ending slavery.

On page 6 of this speech, Francis says,

“When the shackles are falling from hundreds of thousands of our race, when the great principles of human liberty and equality are reanimating the nations of the earth, shall we remain satisfied, in the valley of poverty and ignorance, or shall we avail ourselves of every means within our reach that may render us worthy of those principles and the age in which we live?”

Sometimes when reading these speeches, I hear the voices of these great men and women pleading with those living in my own time.  They seem to say, “Don’t forget us!  Don’t forget what we have fought so hard to overcome.  Honor us by living the best life you can live. Learn from the past, and create a valued place for yourselves in the future.”

Visit the Black Abolitionist Archive to learn more about this speech and others.

independContributed by Linda Papa

The Poetic Express

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Creativity is an urge, I believe, and one we’re all born with. This urge can get directed in different ways, from cooking to construction to creating a business. In some people, this urge is expressed through art. Regardless of the way it’s expressed, however, what can’t be denied is its need for expression. Often the form of expression is part of the creativity itself.

Maurice Greenia, Jr. responds to this creative urge in various ways: from writing, to drawing, to music, to performance. Introduce an idea and he’ll give it a try. The urge encourages him to do something different, to change the world in a noticeable way, and to make a positive impact on society as a whole.

In the 1970s, Maurice decided to share his work in a unique way. Although he’d already been creating art for years prior to this, it was at this point that he started typing poetry, manifestos, drawings, and collections of old quotations (usually filling both sides of an 8” x 11” page). He’d make copies of these pages, and hand them out to people he’d run into around town. Sometimes, he’d mail these to various friends throughout the country to be distributed there. This was all done free of charge and in response to an urge to share his work.

In 1985, Maurice decided it was time to do a regular monthly publication. It was at this point that he came up with the name “Poetic Express” for this work. Since the publication would go out on a regular basis, he offered himself incentive with a deadline, thus forcing him to write poetry, draw, and create comic strips for each month. The Poetic Express is a way to connect on a very personal level to people he would never know or even meet. It’s a raw communication that offers his readers a recognition of the creative urge within their own lives.

When asked about his inspiration for this publication, Maurice says, “It’s always been about getting my work out to the people. I’ve had a lot of feedback over the years and the Express does have some sort of ‘underground cult following.’”

The recent Poetic Express is one of Maurice’s favorites since it includes tributes to family and friends, both living and deceased. I hope you’ll spend some time with this section of the Maurice Greenia, Jr. collection. I think you’ll find it inspiring.

Contribution from Linda Papa

Moving the Dowling Marine Historical Collection

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The university is expanding the services of the Student Success Center on the third floor of the library. As part of the expansion, the Dowling Marine Historical Collection will temporarily be put into storage until new space can be made available in the Archives on level 2A. Some of the material will be in storage, but the model ships that are in the collection will still be available to view. You will still have access to the online material on the libraries Special Collections page.

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Black Abolitionist Archive: Anthony Burns

udmblogThe Black Abolitionist archive features a portrait of Anthony Burns on the Digital Archives page. While not an abolitionist himself, Burns’ experience played a prominent role in the direction of abolition during the turbulent years of the mid-1800s. His experience, occurring soon after the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, offered a turning point for public sentiment regarding the plight of the slave.

Wikipedia tells us that Anthony Burns was born into slavery in Virginia on May 31, 1834 (slavery was officially abolished in Great Britain on August 1, 1834) and died on July 17, 1862 (slavery officially ended in the U.S. on January 1, 1863). He escaped slavery at the age of 19, and was captured as a “run-away” under the Fugitive Slave Law in Boston the following year. The public rallied in his defense and a crowd of Bostonians of both races attempted to free Burns. In the rioting chaos that followed, a Deputy Marshall was killed. Federal troops had to be employed to ensure Burns was returned to Virginia after the trial.

Anthony Burns was arrested under the newly established Fugitive Slave Law while walking down a street in Boston, Massachusetts (a free state). His story can be read and heard (audio reading available) on the Black Abolitionist Archive page.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 encouraged average citizens to capture and return runaway slaves through offers of monetary reward. This law, however, not only succeeded in returning slaves, but in enslaving those who were considered free men and women of color. Vigilante groups began to capture free citizens along with runaways and sell them into slavery in the name of this law. While the law was enacted to protect the slave holder from loss of “property,” it only succeeded in bringing to light the horrors and injustices associated with the institution of slavery that had been previously ignored by the general public. The average citizen was now paying attention.

With the recent popularity of Harriett Beecher Stowe’s best-selling novel and subsequent play, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the general public was becoming painfully aware of the plight of the slave. The horrors coming to light with the actions of those seeking to cash in with the Fugitive Slave Law seemed to awaken a sleeping, unaware public.

Wikipedia includes a response to this incident by Amos Adams Lawrence, philanthropist and newly realized abolitionist:

“We went to bed one night old-fashioned, conservative, compromise Union Whigs & waked up stark mad Abolitionists.” (James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (New York: Bantam Books, 1989), p. 120.

In the end, Anthony Burns’ freedom was purchased by Boston sympathizers. He never fully recovered his health after his ordeal, however, and he died on July 17, 1862, just after his 28th birthday.

Authored by Linda Papa

Summer School-Not Just for College Students

If you walk through campus during the summer it may look pretty deserted, however, there is plenty of activity going on everywhere else. The University of Detroit Mercy offers a number of summer programs for all ages in all areas from preschool to college age students. If you just type in “summer” in the search box on the UDM home page you will find a host of programs listed such as:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The library archive files have programs of some of the summer offerings that have been held in the past. Summer may be a time for rest and relaxation for some, the process of education never stops.

Here are a couple of courses that were offered in the past:

 

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Commencements of the past at University of Detroit

oldcom2Last week the University of Detroit Mercy sent off its latest set of graduates to their next phase of their lives. It wasn’t that long ago when commencement ceremonies were held a bit later in the year and graduates had to follow more compulsory rules to graduate. Check out the notice in the Varsity News, May 8, 1939:oldcom3

Up until 1966, commencement ceremonies were held a month later in June instead of early May like it is now. This changed when the university changed to a shorter trimester system.

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The Memorial Building (now named Calihan Hall) was not built until 1952, so university graduation ceremonies were held in various other venues. Sometimes with the later June dates, they were held in the open air of the stadium. Most of the time it was held in Masonic Temple. Other places included Orchestra Hall, Naval Armory, Detroit Institute of Arts and a few places I don’t think are around any more like Elks Temple and Arcadia Auditorium. Even the time of day the ceremonies that were held would vary-sometime in the evening, sometime in the afternoon. Might have been the location that dictated when they were held. Browse through the commencement programs in our Special Collections page for places and dates as well as a listing of the graduates.

 

Not all the students of the university graduated in the same ceremony. I can’t tell from the commencement programs when the Law and Dental Schools started their own separate ceremonies from the McNichols campus schools. During the early 60′s, there were separate ceremonies for the Dental Hygienist and Secretarial Science graduates. I guess since they were not four-year degree programs, they needed their own ceremonies.

Other traditions that are associated with the university’s commencement ceremonies are the Baccalaureate and breakfast. The Baccalaureate originated in European universities and has been a part of the Jesuit tradition for centuries. The program usually included an invocational hymn by graduates, an address by a prominent Jesuit professor or administrator and benediction.

According to the Varsity News, May5, 1961, “The Mass and breakfast was begun five years ago by Delta Sigma Pi, international professional business fraternity, especially for C&F graduates. It attracted about 50 persons that year” The next year it opened up to all students and it just grew from there.

Some of the other senior activities have come and gone, like the Senior Prom and BobLo boat cruise, but the Baccalaureate, breakfast and commencement ceremony have stood the test of time and will probably be part of the university tradition forever.

 

 

 

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