22 October 2013

case in point: Read Weber

As we artnacoisti get accustomed to the new fields in NACO records for attributes of the entity being established, the question of coding gender of persons has come up several times. I have told folks that they need to justify gender either by an explicit statement of gender or by use of a gendered pronoun. We should not assume that a Robert is male or a Susan is female. In most cases you'll be right but ...

I spent this afternoon, into the evening, at the "Building Talent: Women, Patronage, and Mentoring" symposium, coordinated by the University at Buffalo Gender Institute and held at the Greatbatch Pavilion at the Darwin Martin House. One of the features of the symposium, which was fantastic and inspirational, was a showing of the short documentary from the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation entitled A Girl is a Fellow Here--100 Women Architects in the Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright.

One of the six architects featured in the film was Read Weber (1908-1990). She was listed as male in the registry of American architects of the American Institute of Architecture until 2008. The profile of Weber on the Willis Foundation page mentions this and below is an illustration of the Coney Island Hospital, designed in 1957 by Weber. (Photo credit: Stoller/Esto Photography)

In the film, several of the women are interviewed and express their appreciation of Wright's attitude toward women. That is, he was unwilling to give them any more credit than he gave his male associates.

The speaker that had me in the palm of her hand was Marika Schioiri-Clark, now principal of SOSHL Studio. I had seen some of her work with MASS Design Group as part of my Avery indexing. MASS did a hospital project in Butaro, Rwanda. Schioiri is now living in Cleveland and working on an artist housing and residency project among other things. Her key words are "empathic design" and her mission is founded in her studies at Harvard where aesthetics trumped social engagement.

They said they were filming the symposium. Perhaps it will be available one of these days.

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