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Norman Rockwell: An Artist and Social Activist

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Norman Rockwell: An Artist and Social Activist

July 30, 2009 - 02:47

Norman Rockwell, famous as an artist who drew covers for the Saturday Evening Post, had strong roots in Westchester. He lived in New Rochelle for many years and a lot of the models he used in this paintings were local residents. Jim Killoran, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity in Westchester, talked about the importance of history in our lives, then introduced Tom Daly, Curator of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

The talk by Daly, "A Look at Rockwell's Life as an Artist and a Social Activist," illuminated much about the way Rockwell viewed his drawings. Daly said Rockwell's "bread and butter" was boys and puppies. Audiences wanted to see young people and pets. The artist wanted to tell a simple story. However, Daly said one l960 cover on the Saturday Evening Post showing a black child entering a school was not received well. 92 of Rockwell's paintings concerned civil activism. Rockwell wanted people to know not only about this back child, Ruby Bridges, but also that all other parents had taken their children out of this school at that time. Ruby Bridges, now a Trustee of the Mu\seum, had to go to school all by herself.

Showing a first sketch for "Murder in Mississippi," Daly claimed the sketch was "too graphic for the magazine." Rockwell could use l00 photos for one painting. Rockwell later moved to Stockbridge where he continued his work. The museum has l00,000 pictures in the collection. Danielle McManus, an artist who works from her New Rochelle apartment, said, "Rockwell is showing us our prejudices...He communicates well and you don't have to be an artist to understand."

Westchester Herald, 7/27/09