African American museums are often born out of lack. Lacking presence in a community. Lacking public awareness of African American impact. Lacking knowledge of the fraught and powerful history of African American influence. However, from the lack, comes activism, profound stories, and testaments to the continual assertion of humanity on behalf of African Americans. This theme of capitalizing on lack and finding community, as a result, unites the African American Museum of Iowa and the DuSable Museum of African American History.
I am writing my post on a very bittersweet day--late this afternoon, I will be driving out to Clutier for my fortieth site visit, the last out of the forty historic sites I am writing on. In addition to working on the write-up stage for the other thirty-nine sites, I conducted my third and final informational interview today, something that I've really enjoyed doing--getting to hear the passion from my interviewees when they talk about why they do what they do, as well as learning about how each person came from their background (of which there has been quite a variety!) to where they are now.
While Hannah and I are interns for The Englert, a lot of our job this summer has been to map out the arts ecosystem in Iowa City and to learn how to make it more accessible to the entire community instead of just a limited demographic. We have thus spent just as much time offsite visiting other arts nonprofits as we have in The Englert offices.
At ninety-two, Dick Claeys is the oldest active rolle bolle player in Iowa and something of a local legend. In the interview I conducted with him, he spoke about his ninety years of experience playing the game that his father brought over with him when he emigrated from Belgium in 1911. This interview was conducted on July 3rd and has been edited for brevity and clarity.
In addition to writing program notes for parts of Hancher's 2019-2020 season, I am also spending a part of my internship recording those concert comments as a podcast, titled, "Tonight's Program." The title comes from Art Canter, who wrote program notes for Hancher for some 30 years, and he always titled his notes in the same way.
When we think of the people that populate a college campus, faculty members are often the first people that come to mind. This is especially true at research intensive universities like Iowa. But when it comes to expanding our knowledge base about all the humanities can teach us, we ignore too many people. For the moment, I want to focus on one group: staff members at the University of Iowa.
What does research look like? Can everything be found in a library or online? What can we gain from experiencing a place that is otherwise fully-documented in books and articles?
The Strengthen, Grow, Evolve Campaign at The Englert is in full swing. On Saturday, June 22nd, I arrived at the SGE tent for the Downtown Iowa Block Party. Despite the calls for rain all day, the sky was clear and the air breezy. At the tent was Grace, an employee of The Englert, as well as Joe Tiefenthaler, the Executive Director of FilmScene, and Andrew Sherburne, the Marketing Director of FilmScene. I was heartened to see not just volunteers for the tent, but the leadership for the campaign present and engaged with the community.
When students first step onto the University of Iowa campus their first year, it is an explosion of new experiences and day-to-day learning opportunities. First Hawkeye football game. Eating lunch on the Pentacrest lawn. Cramming for those first midterm exams in the Main Library. All these touchpoints shape the academic life of UI students.
This is a twelve-inch-wide culvert pipe. I point it out to you only because I needed it pointed out to me, by Chris Ward, the city administrator of the town of Vinton, Iowa. I needed it pointed out to me because culvert pipes (twelve-inch or otherwise) are designed and put in place so as not to be seen—so as to channel water beneath roads and sidewalks and on its way to the next largest creek, stream, or river.