Hidden in Plain Sight
Norman Rockwell’s vision of the USA was not all white. As early as 1936, Rockwell was showing people of color with sympathy and a dignity usually withheld from people of colour back then. Normal Rockwell developed these portraits from live painting sessions held at his studio.
Hidden in Plain Sight tells the story about the other people in Norman Rockwell’s America. It shows the stories of the Asian, African, and Native Americans who posed for Norman Rockwell. These people were often concealed, though patently obvious from Rockwell’s body of work.
There are more than 4000 illustrations in Rockwell’s portfolio. People like the John Lane household, Navajos poignantly depicted in the almost unidentified Norman Rockwell painting, “Glen Canyon Dam.” Individuals like Isaac Crawford, a 10 year-old black kid who was a precursor to the Boy Scout calendar.
In this enlightening narrative, Jane Allen Petrick explores exactly what motivated Norman Rockwell to slide people of colour “in to the picture” to begin with. And in so doing, she persuasively documents the well-known illustrator’s deep dedication to and pointed imitations of multiculturalism, imitations that up to now have been, as Rockwell biographer Laura Claridge puts it, “bizarrely overlooked”.
Jane Allen Petrick tells the story using an easy, flowing narrative, the style conversational, and deceptively ‘laid-back’. Petrick is a sharp social observer and her wry sentences stand out, as do her more poignant descriptions of the people Norman Rockwell saw when all around him were blind.
Rockwell suffered psychologically, and spent his life trying to crawl out from under the rock of media oppression. If he, as an artist, was repressed, how much more so were the subjects of his intriguing paintings; the people who were ‘hidden in plain sight’.
Wonderful story. I found myself reading this book from cover-to-cover in one or two days. Unusual for me.
Jane Allen Petrick is the author of several publications on subjects ranging from biograpy to work environment issues. She was a bi-weekly columnist for the Knight Ridder Wire service, and her short articles have appeared in many outlets such as the New York Times, the Denver Post and the Washington Post.
Born and raised in Connecticut, Jane earned a BA in economics from Barnard College and obtained her Ph.D. in business psychology from Saybrook College. Retired as a vice-president of ATT Wireless, she is now the vice-president of Informed Decisions International and an adjunct professor at Capella College. Jane has provided assessment in business habits and diversity and ability to many business clients such as IBM, Nextel and Xerox.
Jane is Longstanding and enthusiastic supporter of cultural and historic preservation, she has contributed to neighborhood preservation efforts in both Florida and NYC State. She belongs to The Villagers, the earliest preservation society in South Florida, and is the writer of all the Miami strolling tours for PocketGuides. A qualified trip supervisor, Jane conducts cultural ancestry trips on the East Coast, from the Everglades to the Maritimes.
Jane and her husband, Kalle, split their time between New York’s Hudson Valley and Miami, Florida.