Who Are You?

The philosophical ramifications of the title question are profound.  For memorial or commemoration committees, the question is deeply pragmatic.  Is a person the sum of their achievements?  Should they be recognized for their personalities or behavioral characteristics?  How do you physically manifest those ephemeral concepts?

I don’t envy the task of a memorial designer or artist.  Summarizing a person’s essence must be daunting.  Great memorials do evoke the emotion surrounding the person or event being memorialized.  Last fall, I read about the proposed Frank Gehry design for the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C. I am neutral about Gehry. Some of his designs are overwrought; some fulfill their aesthetic parameters. I found the Eisenhower design exceptionally overwrought and completely lacking any sense of Eisenhower. While I am not an Eisenhower fanatic (I do respect him and his achievements), I think a person should be appropriately memorialized.  The memorial should invoke the person’s essence, not the artist’s personal aesthetic. Continue reading “Who Are You?”

Plans for Summer 2012, Part Two

Winter BreakThe Field Museum, Chicago Illinois
Photography by Anne E. Cullen

What do public history grad students do with their summers? Learn about the exciting internships and projects that students are undertaking across the country. And check back in the fall for students’ reflection on their summer work.  To read about what our first batch of respondents are doing with their summers, click here.

Continue reading “Plans for Summer 2012, Part Two”