Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Vintage Mardi Gras

Not quite as old as the photos of Mardi Gras 1903, the images here date mostly from the 1930s through 1970s. The parade goers in "Country Bumpkin" costumes (top) is a Louisiana WPA image. The “Indian” family is dated 1970. (Photos throughout are from the LOUISiana Digital Library.)

The moss twins and the two families above them are from
Mardi Gras 1967 and 1968. (photos: Art Kleiner)

Two 1971 photos from a Cajun Mardi Gras
in Mamou, Louisiana.

New Orleans Mardi Gras 1967. (photo: Art Kleiner)

Mardi Gras 1936

Rural Mardi Gras in Church Point Louisiana, 1972.    

New Orleans Mardi Gras during a presidential
election year. Nixon v. McGovern, 1972.

Lafayette Louisiana, 1972

Church Point Mardi Gras, 1970s

New Orleans, 1967 (photo: Art Kleiner)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Ghosts of Mardi Gras Past

These photos of costumed revelers are from the Telling-Grandon scrapbook/diary, found at the LOUISiana Digital Library. It contains photographs and ephemera collected by an Evanston, Illinois group during a visit by train to the New Orleans Carnival of 1903.

The Telling-Grandon group

Friday, February 17, 2012

Gunpowder Labels

DuPont might be best known for creating a synthetic parallel universe of our natural material world. The company replaced silk with nylon, glass with Lucite, rubber with neoprene, and stone with Corian. So synonymous is the company with chemicals, that substances such as Lycra, Teflon, and Kevlar have become household names. But when founder Eleuthère Irénée du Pont established the company in 1802, its sole business was the manufacture of gunpowder.

By the war of 1812, DuPont was the largest supplier of black powder to the U.S. government. During the Civil War, the company provided almost half of the powder used by the Union forces. As explosives technology advanced, the company became a leader in dynamite production and smokeless powder. (More detail here.)

Around the time of WWI, DuPont diversified into chemicals, and by the 1990s moved completely away from the blasting business. What remained with the company, however, was an amazing archive of powder labels. It now resides at the Hagley Museum and Library along with the rest of the corporate archives. Everything from duck shooting to mine blasting is represented and in addition to the DuPont brand, there are labels of acquired mills, and a collection of foreign labels as well. There are even a few original sketches.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"Love is Like a Cough" and other Swahili Valentines

Love is like a cough, it cannot be hidden

Kanga, the wrapped garments worn mostly by women in East Africa, are more than colorful cloths. In addition to a printed pattern engineered for the standard 1-meter by 1.5-meter length of cotton, each kanga carries an inscription, often in the form of a riddle or proverb. The messages evolved as a means for women to communicate what might at one time, have been considered unacceptable to speak out loud. Subjects cover everything from condolences to gratitude, to wishes of good luck and admonishments for gossiping. Kangas are often given as gifts. They have many uses and it is not uncommon for a woman to have a collection of them, so as to don the appropriate message for every occasion.

Many of the images here are from the Erie Art Museum, which mounted a show about Kanga in 2009. Others are from an exhibition at Arkansas State University.

So for this Valentine’s Day, during Fashion Week, within Black History Month post, here are some of the many Kanga messages around the topic of love.

When two are in love, their enemies can’t harm them

Let's be patient with one another and not fight over small things

He has promised to love me, I won’t let him down

There is somebody in the world to love for everybody

Give Us Peace So We Can Love Each Other (source)

What Are You Holding On For? He Doesn't Want You! Leave Him!
(Kanga version of “He’s just not that into you”)
Photo by Amanda Lichtenstein

Let us love each other until people ask themselves (about our love)

Love Me So I Can Calm Down Already
Photo by Amanda Lichtenstein

You can poison romance with too many words

It is no secret, you are my one and only
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