Maira Kalman and a Bird

Oh I do find inspiration in Maira Kalman’s sense of humor and her take on life. She makes me want to go and do – to travel, to see, and to make. To get on with it!

And just when I needed an infusion of energy in the bird project, a Workroom friend posted a video by the filmmaker Gail Towey. It’s about Maira Kalman, and particularly about the process of selecting objects for the opening exhibition at the recently refurbished Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City.

I hadn’t heard about the video or the exhibition – and thought how fine it would be to select objects with personal resonance from a huge collection (some 200,000). It was enough fun to draw all those flowered things from the V&A and post them here! Fancy choosing objects because of the stories they tell, the emotions they can arouse, or because they elicit a “gasp of delight” – and then to make an exhibition, and even collaborate on song and music about your choices.

Kalman calls the exhibition room of “Maira Kalman Selects,” a “contemplative space,” recognizing that people will gravitate to specific objects. The range is broad and eclectic – from Lincoln’s pocket watch (and a recording of it ticking after 200 years!) to hats and shoes and mourning samplers.

Part of her series, “Portraits of Creativity,” Gail Towey’s wonderful film is here:

http://www.portraitsincreativity.com/maira-kalman-smithsonian/

And I loved this longer one,

http://www.cooperhewitt.org/2015/02/18/maira-kalman-my-favorite-things-a-film-by-gael-towey/. This video records the premier of Towey’s film followed by a question and answer session with Towey, the show’s curator, and Kalman. They talk about what Kalman wanted to see, how they traveled to off-site storage locations to view “the cutest dog in the world,” and about being told, “No, you may not borrow Lincoln’s hat,” by the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

With the serendipity of creative collaborations, everything came together to support Kalman’s themes of time, of life and death, and questions about the human condition like, “Why am I here?”

“Small questions.” Kalman says.

Olive-sided flycatcher

Olive-sided flycatcher

2 thoughts on “Maira Kalman and a Bird

  1. Just what I needed this morning. What an inspirational little film. (I haven’t watched the longer one yet.) Thank you! Maira Kalman’s paintings and words and spirit always pull me in and make me see the world in a new and more cheerful way. And your olive-sided flycatcher is perfect. The flycatcher, along with the bluebird, was one of my mother’s favorite birds. The past brought into the present once again through art.

  2. I love Maira Kalman and shall look forward to enjoying these films. And the pose of the flycatcher is especially nice!

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