Tag Archives: Books

THE LIFE OF AN ARTIST: BOOKMAKER, EDUCATOR, ADVOCATE

On Valentine’s Day, artist Beth Thielen spoke at FIT as part of ARTSpeak’s series, “Open Book: Conversations on Art and the Book.” Instead of love letters, she brought books.

Thielen is an artist known for her beautiful and fascinating book structures, like this one:

Beth Thielen’s “The Tower,” a tiny architecture from which four books unfold.

Take that, Kindle.

She loves the primitive technology of monoprints, a printmaking technique in which each impression is unique. The imperfections make the images look antique and wise.

But the technology that truly mystifies her is the interaction of writing and consciousness. “These little scratches of black on white paper jump through 12 inches of air into my mind,” she said. (Hue finds that the scratches jump more easily through 36 inches of air; perhaps it’s time for reading glasses.)

Beth Thielen, at right, with an admiring audience.

She talked about teaching art to inmates in California prisons, and she showed both their work and hers that they inspired. The images of struggle in the face of natural and cultural disasters were often haunting, but the forms–pop-up books, a miniature house–retained a sense of play.

“There’s something about people in prison and artists that understand deeply the need for freedom,” she said.

A collection of Thielen’s art books.

Her presence in the prisons served a second purpose, perhaps just as important: watchdog. When she was teaching, a prison guard killed an inmate; she helped ensure that justice was served.

“Almost all the prison art programs in California are gone,” she said, “which means there’s a lot less transparency in the system. It troubles me.”

RUNNIN’ A TV STATION AIN’T EASY

Hue has never started a business. The opposite is true of Marguerite Moore.

Moore, who teaches classes at FIT’s Enterprise Center and who blogs for Hot Topics Insider, wrote Love and War, The Human Side of Business: The Tale of The Arabic Channel about the cable station for Arabic speakers (channel 507 on Time Warner) that she and her husband Gamil launched in 1991, while she was working at Lehman Brothers. Since then, it’s been a trial by fire of buying content, selling advertising, and struggling to turn a profit in the wake of the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks.

Moore has a built-in readership; she plans to teach the book to BE261: Starting a Small Business this spring. Hue sat down with Moore to ask her about the channel and the book.

Hue: What are The Arabic Channel’s most popular shows?
Moore:
We run a lot of soap operas and films, from Egypt, Syria, and Dubai. Movies about [medieval Egyptian sultan] Salah El-Din, Genghis Khan, and Anwar Sadat, have been very popular, as has a documentary on the October 6 War [also known as the Yom Kippur War], when Egypt conquered Israel. We used to produce our own news, getting the feed from the AP. Now we show Al Jazeera.

Marguerite Moore and her husband Gamil hold a quick confab inside The Arabic Channel HQ.

Hue: Running an Arabic channel must get politically dicey these days.
Moore:
We entertain all faiths and try to be apolitical. But it’s not easy. When we show the Jumu’ah, the Friday prayer of Mecca, our viewers like that, but one Christmas we put on the Orthodox Mass, and we got complaints.
Shortly after the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the FBI visited us. They wanted to know if we had been contacted by anyone involved in the bombing. They tapped our phones. We didn’t realize that the FBI was aware that The Arabic Channel existed. And every time we picked up the phone, we had to be careful.

Hue: How did you come up with the title for your book?
Moore: I was having difficulty with that, so I had lunch with my friend Merry, who is a big reader. She said, “Love and War. The book is about a marriage, going back and forth between love and war, and the World Trade Center attacks are a kind of war. And you’re relating what happened to you, which is the human side of it.” Every time I was writing, I’d think about those elements.

WHICH DESIGNER LOVES HARRY POTTER?

This weekend, October 26 to 28, the Designers and Books Fair is taking place on FIT’s campus. You can watch Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT, interview Donna Karan, or New York magazine’s Wendy Goodman speak with Todd Oldham.

Or you can just visit the Designers and Books website, and read about what books celebrities from all over the design spectrum most cherish.

Some designers confirmed what we’ve already guessed. Hue is not surprised, for example, that Ralph Rucci ’80 listed three Shakespeare plays in his list of faves. Or that illustrator Maira Kalman loves Winnie the Pooh and Remembrance of Things Past.

Some were willing to admit that they occasionally enjoy lighter fare. Stephen Burrows ’66 reads Harry Potter and Agatha Christie mysteries. Todd Oldham mixes his Diane Arbus monograph with his Amy Sedaris cookbook. (Admittedly, it’s not too hard to see the connection between the two.)

Other designers chose the highbrow route, mystifying us with their intellectual capacity. Graphic-design legend Milton Glaser chose three books by John Berger, whose idea-rich prose cannot be absorbed while listening to your iPod. (Hue has tried.)

So what does Isaac Mizrahi read? Or Cynthia Rowley? Or Karim Rashid? Head on over and find out.