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Friday for the Arts

Ms.+G+poses+with+the+artwork
Ms. G poses with the artwork

Ms. G poses with the artwork

Katia Savoni

Katia Savoni

Ms. G poses with the artwork

Kenzie Defoney and Katia Savoni

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Smocks stained with sweat and dedication for a project that has spanned decades. Malvina Hoffman was an artist who was assigned to create sculptures for Stanley Fields of the Field Museum in Chicago during the 1930s. Now her work has inspired Geneva’s artists to create art in her honor.

“They [Field Museum] subcontracted her [Malvina Hoffman] to travel the world and do sculptures and drawings of indigenous men” said Mrs. Grissinger (Mrs.G to her students).

Malvina Hoffman’s fame peaked in the 1930s when she was assigned by the Field Museum director, Stanley Fields in Chicago to travel the world and sculpt different races of men. She traveled around the world from Hawaii to India for a total of eight months in order to study her subjects. On total she created 105 sculptures—35 full figures, 1 half-size figure, 30 busts, and 39 heads.

“Part of it was for Races of Mankind, was the name for the exhibition during the World Fair in Chicago” said Mrs. G.

Katia Savoni
Welcome sign at the entranceces of Mankind was the name of the exhibition for the World’s Fair in Chicago” said Mrs. G.

“It was shown from 1939 to 1969 when Martin Luther King was marching, scientists felt what would this woman know about cultural diversity, so they took it down and it was one of  their largest exhibits” said Mrs. G and Mrs. Mary Lu O’ Halloran.

20 years ago, students in an independent study decided to recreate an image of Malvina and her work creating a triptych, a three panel drawing, dedicated to her work. Mrs. O’Halloran was their independent study teacher at the time kept their art hoping one day it could be put up.

“She (Mrs. O’Halloran), former GHS teacher and mentor, had the triptych and she really wanted it to be in the school somewhere because Geneva high schoolers made it… it feels like it has come full circle” said Mrs. G.

Mrs. G and Mrs. O’Halloran then decided to, “Bring it into the 21st century because it was very necessary for the time”.

Last year they had reached their goal to finally finish their project. Mrs. G’s NAHS (national art honors society) created the finishing touches by last years art show.

“We resurrected the project and named it, Rediscovering Malvina,… In 2015 and 2016 we decided to resurrect the project because we thought it was very pertinent to all the racial issues that seem to be going on right now” said Mrs. G.

One of the artists who helped start the idea of Malvina in her independent study was found via Facebook by Kathleen Kopija-Erickson and Zach Gordon. Former student Alice Lee expresses her gratitude.

“I thought it would have been burned or trashed by now. They were not well received when they were first painted” said Alice.

She was thrilled to find out they were being hung up in the library and the project was pushed by her mentor at the time, Mary Lu O’Halloran.

“I didn’t think Geneva high school would be receptive to messages of diversity in this political climate. Despite it being 20 years later” said Alice.

After being told by Zach Gordon that it was a project pushed by Mrs. G and Mary Lu she was excited not only for her artwork being hung, but also for the change she hopes it makes.

Triptych of Malvina Hoffman tributer artwork being hung up, but for the change she hopes it makes.

“It’s been slow going but we persevered through, but now it’s up and we’re going to have our last hurrah with it” said Mrs. G.

Mrs. G hopes Malvina’s work will feeds others work at GHS.

“Learning about her as a person… She worked so hard. She studied with Rodin and for a woman to be a successful artist in the 1930s is an accomplishment and to me that was very inspiring. She is a very inspiring person” said Mrs. G.

During the unveiling, our editor-in-chief, Katia Savoni, was able to talk to some of the students who attended.

“When I first found out about the project I never initially had any part of it, although I was really intrigued about how everyone was being brought together” said junior Kathleen Kopija-Erickson.

Malvina’s work was about a nation being one, and the night of the unveiling, people appreciated not only the artwork, but the hope and positivity being spread through something as simple as paint on a canvas and words being spoken.

Kathleen hopes that artists will make more artwork the following years and add onto what they have so far.

“I would love if it continued being added onto over the years and I wish that more people would be able to appreciate it a lot more. Like the word would get out more because I think it was a great overall thought and it really concludes a lot of controversial topics that people would be able to explore more about” said Kathleen.

 

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Friday for the Arts