Toy Jungle Featured on Hutchinson Site

November 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Toy Jungle

Toy Jungle, ca. 1934

“Toy Jungle” is currently featured on my omeka site, Artworks of Mary E. Hutchinson.  For a still life of children’s toys and objects, it is really rather dark with a grimacing jack-o-lantern, gasping fish, and toppled bird figurine.  Hutchinson also painted a companion canvas titled “Spark Plug” which has a cheerier disposition.

Spark Plug

Spark Plug, ca. 1934

Both paintings may be easel versions of Hutchinson’s 1933 WPA mural “Jungle.”  I don’t know where the mural was and have little hope that it has survived, but I have located both “Toy Jungle” and “Spark Plug” in private collections.



“Two of Them” Featured on Mary E. Hutchinson Site

July 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Two of ThemThis painting marks Mary E. Hutchinson’s big break in the New York art world because of the attention drawn to the artist when the High Museum of Art in Atlanta acquired it in 1934.  The purchase came a year after Hutchinson first exhibited “Two of Them” in New York, but coincided with her first big New York solo exhibition at the Midtown Galleries.

The High Museum deaccessioned the painting around 1998 and it was bought at auction by Jason Schoen.  As a result, “Two of Them” became the first Hutchinson painting to be exhibited in an art venue since around 1953.

For more about the history of the painting and its exhibition see the Artworks of Mary E. Hutchinson at

More About Etchings – Mary E. Hutchinson Site

June 16, 2013 § 1 Comment

Bearded Man Etching

This Bearded Man (ca. 1929) is another etching done by Mary E. Hutchinson as a student at the National Academy of Design.  You can see other examples of her work at my digital archiving site The Artwork of Mary E. Hutchinson at

A few posts back, I shared a bit of a letter Hutchinson wrote to her mother (Minnie Belle Hutchinson) describing the etching process.  Here’s more from a second letter she wrote a few days later in late January or early February, 1929:

“I had to turn in some work today at school for the exams – all classes.  In the etching class, I finished drawing on my first plate, biting it and cleaning it all ready for printing.  I think I explained to you the preparing of the rosin ground on the plate – heating, waxing, rolling, smoking, rinsing.  If the ground has a good gloss, is thin, and yet thoroughly covers and protects the plate, it is all right for drawing.  First you make a drawing on paper to get your placement and effects of shading (just the scratches on the plate are very confusing to the eye, and besides allow for no change at all).  You finish your drawing, then shave off some fine red chalk like powder and rub onto the back of the paper, very smooth.  You then fold the paper carefully on the prepared plate, and with a sharp pencil go over your main lines, which trace on the wax but do not cut through, of course.  Then you work direct on the plate from the model, and it certainly is confusing.  The model poses three times, in this case last Saturday morning, Thursday afternoon and this morning.  But during that time you have to work on your plate as well as draw.  I finished drawing about the middle of the morning.  Then the complicated process of biting the plate.  The back of the plate, sides, any exposed spot on the plate must be painted with asphaltum to protect it from the acid.  When this is thoroughly dry you place the plate on a string and with that dip it in acid for two minutes, feathering it all the while, to keep air bubbles out of the lines.  After biting you wash the plate in water and blot it.  With more asphaltum you again stop out parts, delicate lines you do not want to go too deep in the plate.  After two or three such bitings in the acid, you clean all the ground off, and the plate is ready for printing.”

Teaching With Objects

June 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

The best advice I got as a new teacher designing my first syllabus was to teach what I know.  Thank you Rosemarie Garland-Thomson!  I was new to Women’s Studies but had spent many years as a professional public historian – and I knew objects – the material and visual stuff of everyday life.

DBM Trojan condom tin blog

I grabbed the attention of my first class on my first day with an exercise in reading the object – this circa 1940 Trojan condom tin.  It was different enough to puzzle my students and familiar enough to be relevant to their daily lives.

gold trojan back

This single object opened the door to an array of topics pertinent to Women’s Studies from reproduction rights and the science of sex to the gendering of colors.

Etching Featured on Mary E. Hutchinson Site

June 9, 2013 § 1 Comment

Cathedral St. John the Divine

Currently featured on Artworks of Mary E. Hutchinson at – “Cathedral St. John the Divine,” etching (ca.1929).

As a student at the National Academy of Design in New York, Mary E. Hutchinson learned to work in a variety of media including the art of etching which was very popular in the 1920s.  She viewed the Cathedral of St. John the Divine from her apartment window every day and made both an etching and a drawing of it.

Hutchinson began etching in January 1929 and wrote her mother, Minnie Belle, a detailed description of the process:

“I can stay in the etching class all right I think, but I have such loads to learn!  Mr. Leavy came in yesterday morning.  So Friday afternoon I worked, lay[ing] another ground on a plate, and printing the trial plate I had made.  Part of Thursday I worked in the room, biting my trial plate.  I certainly make lot of slips, with no one to tell me much.

You first take a zinc plate, clean it with the finest emory paper and then benzene.  You put the plate on a stone, holding it with a vice.  When it is almost hot enough to sizzle (but it must not sizzle), you rub rosin on it through a silk rag; then with a rubber roller, you roll the wax very evenly, and very thin on the plate.  The heat of the plate must be just right to do this, and your pressure just right, and even the most experienced often have to lay a ground three or four times before it is right.  The coating has to be very thin, yet perfectly cover the plate.  Any part too thin, or a tiny porous place like a pin mark, the acid will bite through.  When the ground is on right, and the plate still warm, it is smoked then cooled.  That is all I had better explain at present.”

Gender Newswatch! “Matilda’s” Monstrous Gender

April 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

As reported on NPR’s All Things Considered, Thursday, April 11, 2013 – the representation of “Matilda’s arch-nemesis, Miss Trunchbull, the headmistress of Crunchem Hall” in “Matilda the Musical” rates a Gender Newswatch red flag warning.  Judging from  director Matthew Warchus’ explanation for casting Bertie Carvel (a man) to play Miss Trunchbull on stage, the monstrous darkness of the character is represented by discord between sex and stereotypical gender expectations.  Although Warchus began by casting women in the role, he created the monster he wanted on stage by turning to a man for the part.

According to Warchus, “it became clear to me that the sort of monster that Roald Dahl had drawn — and one who is an Olympic-class hammer thrower, as well —[this] hugely strong, intimidating, nasty, repellent, monstrous person, isn’t particularly female or male.”  Warchus relies on the prejudiced response to what Judith Halberstam calls “female masculinity.”  Gender stereotypes are used to turn this woman’s athleticism, physical strength, and strength of personality into something considered inhuman or monstrous.  The message – and a message aimed at children – becomes one of gender conformity rather than a message against unethical and violent behavior – such as picking up a child and swinging her by the hair.

Become a part of Gender Newswatch and leave a comment either on this post or alerting us to other news stories like this which quietly reinforce gender stereotypes and discrimination or to stories directly related to gender disparity.

Gender Newswatch! Andover Student Leaders

April 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have noticed so many stories in the news lately that are either about gender, such as this New York Times article on gender disparity in the student leadership at Phillips Academy (a.k.a. Andover) –

– or stories that invoke gender stereotypes (more to come on this!), that I am adding Gender Newswatch as a new blog category.

Help me keep up with what is happening in the news.  If you see a news story about gender, or especially a story whose take on gender should be challenged, let me know by leaving a comment.  Be sure to include a link and specific citation.