Atheneum 40th Anniversary Speaker Series: Karla Britton

Posted By on December 7, 2019


Welcome to the Athenaeum. My name is Connie Weinzapfel I’m the director emeritus university of
Southern Indiana’s historic new harmony program. I had the privilege of engaging
in new harmonies tasks. Presidents and future for about 20 years. Thank you all for being here today. Um, and I want to particularly
thank our sponsor. We have a representative from
the architectural firm of heifer. In Evansville. Jack Faber, thank you very much
for sponsoring this program today. yeah. I want to make a personal thanks to a
couple of people who helped me develop this programming this afternoon. Uh, Nancy McCaslin, the indispensable
editor of so many important books and Michelangelo know. They both, uh, collaborated with me and
helping develop what I think will be a great afternoon and early evening. Now, housekeeping, each presentation will
be about 30 minutes and then we’ll have about 10 minutes of questions. So even though the program doesn’t really
show that you can have a refreshment break or a, uh, powder room break. You may do that. So there’ll be plenty of time, um, and
feel free to get up and wander around. Um, if you need to. The wave was designed for 17 minutes of
an orientation film, not several hours of programming, so feel free to get up
from the religious Harmonists to the progressive Owen McClurg community. New harmony has served as a beacon. A small place in middle America where
people were trying to perfect the present and prepare for a brighter future, a
utopia and semiology and urbanism roll-on. Bart said, architecture is always dream
and function, expression of a utopia and instrument of a convenience. This building. This remarkable sculpture, as I describe
it, attempted to crystallize the founder’s impulses. Today we’re here to celebrate the
Athenaeum and to consider new harmonies evolution over two
centuries significantly. Adding to our knowledge of that is the
new book avant garde in the cornfield. I’m pleased that our conveners today are
the books co-editors, Ben Nicholson and Michelangelo Sabbath. You know, Michelangelo Sabatino is
professor and director of the PhD program in the college of architecture at
Illinois Institute of technology. He’s the former Dean and the inaugural
John Vinci distinguished research fellow, Ben Nicholson, who lives
here in new harmony. Is a professor of architecture at the
school of the art Institute of Chicago. He has served as a visiting critic at
Cornell and a visiting professor at the university of London and exhibits, among
other things, his labyrinth drawings internationally. So help me welcome to the stage. Michelangelo Sabatini had been Nicholson It’s a normous privilege to be here. Thanks so much. To start with you, how many and the frames
in banking this extraordinary events happen. Myself and my, uh, colleague and good
friend, Michelangelo will steal the softens events in a series of
a pretty wonderful speakers at this project is called . New harmony. Every era of new harmony has hosted
cutting edge design thinking. Richard Maya’s Athenaeum exemplifies how
radical design turns into a monument of historic preservation
in just 40 short years. A newly published. Book at all to God in the cornfields,
architecture, landscape, and preservation in new harmony serves as a foundation for
discussing the whole cycle or CalConnect of commissioning, all using. And preserving history and
the built environments. So this speaker series
will reflect on them. Hello, and how new, how many retains
remains at the intersection of cosmopolitan from the outside. Provincial in the state and, uh,
vernacular in the local area, how it intersects those three
quantities of design thinking. It will propose strategies for keeping its
out nod position in the future and sustain its exemplary role as a
small time living community. So please welcome Michelangelo’s It is my distinct honor to introduce, and
I’m going to get around a lector, and that seems to be inspired by a Charles
mini Macintosh, but it looks too high. Whereas the two work, uh, and it’s my
distinct pleasure to introduce professor Carla Riverton when we
were discussing why. Carla would be an ideal, a keynote
or someone to open our session. I spoke with Mike. Carla has been here and you heard me at
least two times, maybe more and, and her own work, uh, as a scholar intersects with
some of the key issues that have come to define harmony. When, uh, I last saw Carla, she was, uh,
at Yale university, but at this associate currently, she has made an amazing. A transition. Uh, and she is currently a professor of
art history at Denae college, which is a Navajo nation, uh, university
in the four courts. Uh, and there she is starting a new
chapter of her life and her academic career, totally different. A set of students and which is
a remarkable and courageous act. So with that, uh, you
can look up Carla online. I’m not going to reread
all our many publications. But mending. This is a fabulous opportunity
to welcome upstage. What’s the pleasure to be here with all of
you and I want to thank Michelangelo and then, and Connie and Claire and their team
from the university of Southern Indiana. Um, I wanted to, uh, talk with you today
in a way that would, um, in a sense frame today’s events, uh, to provide a kind of,
a overview of the issues that I think are really important about the
symbolic value of new harmony. And I want to do that really through
architectural and primarily theological terms. Looking to, uh, to Paul tiller. So that’s what I have in store. And so let’s get, um, to begin with. It seems to me that, um, I should let you know that as Michelangelo
said, I was here before in the summer of 2016 with the group. Well, the architecture,
culture, and spirituality forum. So sort of checked all the boxes and this
was an ideal venue for our conference, and it’s in revisiting some of those themes
that I want to, um, to begin today. And, uh, I just wanted to underscore that
it’s a great privilege to be here on the 40th anniversary of the, an after Nam as
well as this, um, great opening of the, of the book of by Michelangelo and then
nickel the then, um, on all the guard and the corn fields. So just to start, I want to say that
what has really struck me, um, through my encounters with new harmony is that it
evokes really a symbolic aspiration. Perhaps what matters most about know
harmony is what it symbolizes today. For those who know it, it functions
as much as a symbolic place as. A real place. And in the times in which we live, this
ability to transcend, it’s his scorable setting as I think particularly
significant implications beyond its association with the cooperative
pioneering visions of the 19th century and the plan’s settlements of the
harmonious and later the Oni. New harmony decisively stands out as a
place that has remained grounded in a two topian ethos across time. Of course, the addition of Richard Meyer’s
design for the Athenaeum is only one of the more recent manifestations of this
continued communal social and aesthetic idealism. And so the town represents for us what the
British intellectual Raymond Williams once called a resource of hope, a pattern that
carries cultural values forward across time rather than laying them
casually aside in the moment. And so it is on this theme of new harmony
as a resource of hope that I would like to reflect with you today. Raymond Williams book resources of hope
was published in 1989 the year after he died. And it brings together a posthumous
collection of his essays, uh, as a Welsh critic. Uh, he was very concerned with the issues
of socialism, of community and democracy taken together his essays, especially
emphasize the nature of democratic culture. And the value of community Williams asks
us to pay attention to patterns of what he called generation and nurture as the
means by which culture is produced and reproduced. For Williams, the coherence of democratic
culture requires a commitment over time to the values that undergird it. It cannot be adequately contained or
expressed in the passing moment of political struggles and social movements,
rather for Williams coming from a British social utopian tradition, which I emblem
eyes here by William Blake’s vision of the new Jerusalem for Williams only. Such a commitment to the longer processes
of cultural production and transmission. Can one be sure of the intellectual
grounding that is necessary for a democratic community. It’s what he called making hope
practical rather than despair. Convincing this concern for the heuristic
primacy of time might remind us of the French intellectual idea
of the long juror Fe. Developed by the 20th century and
now school of historical writing. So cold because its principal mouthpiece
was the journal, the, and now the story is sociology or the analysis of
economic and social history. These historians, which included figures
such as Lucien LaFave, Mark block and Fernand Rodel if priority
analyzing longterm. Almost permanent structures of
society over the short term scale. In a similar spirit, the American
historian Christopher Jennings, published in 2016 an intellectual history of
19th century utopian communities titled paradise. Now Jennings argued. For the value of revisiting the ideals and
commitments of those utopian communities, which he saw as transmitting something
through time of those values, which remain essential to us today. In studying the shakers, the Ooni
uproarious, the Icarians, and the perfectionist Jennings on earth. Much that these communities
can teach us today. He said that some of the things that the
19th century tope Ian’s got right decades in advance of their fellow citizens,
includes the equality of women, uh, the need of public education
and democratic society. The importance of a social safety net, the
edifying vitality of a diverse society, the hazard of unchecked market. And he claimed that these communities were
able to come up with the social dividends of contemplating idealized futures. Jennings conclusion is that one of
the utopian community’s greatest accomplishments was to be able to see
beyond the dystopian reality of the present. They were able to envision what practical
actions might be taken in order to produce some more positive future, and then to set
about creating the structures that might achieve it. Following this lead, I’ve been very
drawn to the work of the theologian Paul Tillich, whose work’s been important for
my own studies of contemporary sacred architecture. Tic Tillich has given me access to aspects
of the utopian vision is vividly embodied here in new harmony
and deep new harmonies. Spiritual implications for the modern
world is a theme that’s manifested throughout the new book. Avant garde in the cornfield. As Michelangelo States in his introduction
in the period following the second world war, no harmony provided a unique context
for the realization of contemporary art and architecture. New Harman inc provided
what, uh, Michelangelo calls. The realm of the spiritual. So in this book, uh, in this book’s
telling Paul, Tillich has a pretty central role, not only as a theologian, but as a
materialist historian, a supporter, and even at times a designer who was an
integral force in envisioning and then creating the modern needs of this place. Indeed in the early 1950s as this
audiences quite aware, uh, Tillich’s teaching how to direct impact on the
thinking of the Texas philanthropists, Jane Blaffer Cohen and her understanding
of new harmony for the history, especially a progressive Protestant America. One of the things for which we are
indebted to this new book, uh, is the manner in which it brings together
important episodes that are central to the evolution of revision for this town. Then Nicholson and William proud. For example, describe the history of
Friedrich he slurs grotto and the caves shelter, which eventually was reconceived
as part of the Memorial in honor of tiller. And Cammy essay on Philip Johnson’s
roofless church dedicated in 1960 underscores the impact Tillich’s values a
Protestant design had on the construction of the church itself. And indeed in the book’s appendix,
Paul Tillich’s address delivered at the dedication of the park named in his honor,
is included as a counterpoint to the book’s modernist architectural narrative. Now, as you are most likely aware,
Tillich first came to new harmony at the invitation of Laffer Owen, who had been
a student of Tilex at union theological seminary in New York showing here, and she
thought apart dedicated to Tillich and his socialist ideals would be a fitting
addition to this community as a socialist Tillich belief that the capitalistic
form of private property. Is the perfect expression
of man’s strange. Yet he did not believe that humanity’s
feelings of estrangement can be submerged into a collective society. Even a collective society he argued is a
strange from the one thing which can hold the promise of harmony, which has God. The underlying problem he argued is that
society as a whole is a strange from God for Tillich. The expression. Of the new being is the fulfillment
of humanity’s potential. It takes the form of a humanity United
with God, and the implication of this theme for Tillich was often fully
expressed for him by the stark abstraction of the artists of the German expressionist
movement up prior to the first world war. Here I’m showing a painting titled
waterfall by a favorite artist of Tilex friends. Mark. And the painting draws on the dominant
motifs of Tiller’s idea of UOP, reconciliation, joy, and humanity’s
home in the natural world. As I mentioned, Tillich spoke at the
dedication of the Paul Tillich park in 1963 and after this first encounter with
new harmony, he was unafraid of expressing what he regarded as the
town’s symbolic value. For him. No. Harmony was both quote, history and
symbol, and in his words, this place is an impression of something quite astonishing,
surprising, great in itself, both in its past and in its present. New harmony came to represent for him
nothing less than an opening up of what he described as a search
for our ultimate concern. Which in the end, which in the end for
him was God’s self to like is perhaps best Nolan for calling attention to the
relationship between theology and modern culture. He used modern culture to express the
existentialists dilemma of humanity’s estrangement from God in our own beads. Expelled in 1933 by the Nazi government
from the teaching position and held at Frankfort university. Tillich then came to the United States,
encouraged by the eminence Ryan will leave or to join, and in 1937 at the union
theological seminary in New York city where he was to remain for 21 years before
moving on to Harvard divinity school, and later the university of Chicago. Upon his arrival in America, he was
particularly drawn to the cultural life of New York city, and especially the museum
of modern art, which provided for him a new inspiration for deepening his
understanding of the essential estrangement of humanity from what he
called the crown of being in the 1960s. HILIC gave a number of public addresses
at the sculpture garden at the museum of modern art, which was designed by Philip
Johnson, the historic and beloved part of the museum. The garden’s aesthetic, intellectual ism
reminded Tillich of what he called the best of his home, in his estimation,
contemporary art and architecture provided. And entree and the spiritual dimensions
of human expression that are otherwise inaccessible, even through prayer
or scripture, architecture and art. He said, have the capacity to
break the surface of reality. And he often used Picasso’s painting
apparent USCCA to illustrate this point. And so his etic experience becomes one
of our most potent points of entry. Into the sacred significantly. Tillich saw the arts as offering not only
a focus on the good and the beautiful, but also an exploration of the more than
not demonic, uncertain, and even tragic aspects of human experience. Fertility uncertainty is
the point where religion. And art could intersect as he put it. The expressionists capacity of art and
architecture pierces reality to the ground. It reshapes. It reorders the elements in order
to more powerfully express meaning. In this way, architecture and art have
the possibility of being an expression of ultimate concern. And that by way of example, in 1921 he
singled out the painting vice fronds Mark called the tower of blue forces as an
exempt blur of the expressionists ability to destroy natural forms and colors in
order to gain an insight into what he called the inner truth of things. Now at one level, Tillich found in new
harmony, a purely nostalgic people cation of his early years in Germany. As Richard Asher recounts in his 1988
article on Paul Tillich, Tillich saw in new harmony a sense that he was able to
be transposed here 150 years back in time. And that the countryside around new
harmony reminded him of his birthplace. In Brandenburg showing here, I told
the citizens of new harmony how he was overcome. That was his word by the landscape, which
brought him back to places in Eastern Germany where he grew
up at a deeper level. Tillich experienced in new harmony. A community in which the spiritual and
economic dimensions of human existence were brought into
dialogue with each other. For him, this was a harbinger of the new
being, his famous book of 1950 which is the goal of religious life and did the
address we gave at the park set occasion and new harmony was entitled, the
strange and United, the new beat. It took place, uh, on
the church’s calendar. Auspiciously on Pentecost Sunday the
day when in the new Testament, the estrangement of human beings as
represented by the diversity of their language is overcome by the
unifying power of the spirit. And here I’m showing another one
of going to his favorite artists. Uh, I’m Neil NOLA, uh, German Dutch
expression as to was also drawn to religious themes. Here. The painting depicts the scent of
the Holy spirit upon the apostles. A theme that was very important
for the Tilly for Tillich. Architecture especially has the capacity
to be one of the most powerful expressions of this aspiration towards reunification. Architecture can access, both are in
a tube and are in the openness to the infinite, rather than being a
place of comfort or retreat. Architecture can be a place that
challenges and deepens our understanding of the existential dimension
of human experience. No harmony is roofless church designed
by Philip Johnson was especially dear to tiller. He found expressed in the building, uh,
the harmonization between human, if the nature and VOD, having visited the church
with his wife, said when last night we’ve walked through the roofless church, I said
to her, this alone justifies the century in which we are living, that our century
is not only able to produce bad imitations of former centuries, but it
is able to create something. Born in our time,
understandable in our time. Great events involved power. But if new Harmony’s resonance for Tillich
was with the symbol of the new being where we begin to connect it to concerns
more specific to our own time. When I mentioned the people in New Mexico
and Arizona that I was to speak about new harmony, the conversation often turn
to more recent experiences in utopian communal when old settlements in the West,
places like Paolo Soleri’s Arcosanti in the Sonoran desert or the annual burning
man festival in Northern Nevada or the core area like SLE at big sewer. These places still fascinate and attract
all my art revelers and academics and like new harmony. They hold out a spear, the quote for a new
and different kind of world, that history of planning across the continent, of
course, it’s full of such stories of utopians reform us spiritualists and
the communities that they founded. Yet for those who have known new harmony,
it isn’t another ill pro born from an entirely different territory. Perhaps a closer comparison would be
new Haven, Connecticut located along the Southern coast of England and founded
by English Puritans in 1638 it too is an example of a sacred city, one that the
historian Vincent Scully relished towards relationship to, would seek Theo’s
description of the ideal city, like new harmony. It was laid out according to
the geometry of the square. In this case, a nine square plan. It blocked the DevOps easy fields vision,
sailing into the natural Harbor of new Haven for the first time the Puritan saw
in its very landscape of providential sign two Buttes overlooking the site now
knowing as each struck and West rock Racine in light of Psalm 18 which reads,
Oh Lord my stronghold, my Craig and my Haven, my God, my rock
in whom I put my trust. And so not unlike the sanctuary, the
Jehovah’s showed to a CPO as a sanctuary for the refugees from Jerusalem. New Haven shares with new harmony. This difficult suggestion of an idealized
city, a place of guiding open, a light shining out of a cave of collective dark. Both places remained true to, to his, he
feels prophecy of the earth and geography itself as a sacred concept. Now, new harmony today, it’s richness
resides in this heightened sense of this utopian vision and its
spiritual consequences. The place is made up of a series of
quixotic episodes, gardens, parks, the river, the poet’s house,
the roof was church. They asked the name, the lab, all of
varying intensity and effect, which at times are highly aesthetic
like this building. And then other times collectively
have a history of social reform. New harmony is above all a landscape
composed of an interplay of geography. It’s moral, social, and physical. And remarkably, no, Harmony’s never
grown larger than a thousand people. And in this respect, the town stands
against how we understand most cities today to grow when unsustainable size, new
harmony begin with a structured order of society with rules and expectations. And this town room represents a highly
structural process from the start rather than a biologically driven one. In comparison where I teach at the ne
college on the Navajo nation showing here, we are very much aware that there is
very little written about the ethical and methodological approaches to community
design and planning by indigenous communities. Historically, these have been overlooked
in favor of models from the Western and European practices such as
new harmony or new Haven. For me, though, it is interesting to it’s
floor how the symbolism of new harmony joins with the generational model that
remains foundational for so many native and indigenous communities, especially
in the Southwest in particular. I’m referring here. To what is sometimes described
as the seven generations model. It is a model which Ted ho-ho love. The indigenous design and planning
Institute at the university of New Mexico promotes as a useful concept for community
development, especially for indigenous communities. And it is in a sense, an idea that is
layered into the history of new harmony itself as its vision has
stretched across time. The seven generations model is essentially
this within the span of an individual’s lifetime, especially within
indigenous communities. It’s not unusual that an extended family
consists not only of oneself, but also those of three generations before and
three generations after one’s life. Experience, thereby includes getting
to know and be related to members from multiple generations. The both proceed and
follow one’s own life. These Intergen generic generational
relationships give credence to the collective notion that those yet unborn
will inherit that which has already been gained and that this inheritance is vital
and valued for the continuation of the community. The right of inheritance is invested
not just in material things. Such as land, but also in the more
intangible things such as culture. The awareness that this intergenerational
rationality builds is that we are both in a state of indebtedness toward those who
have come before and also in a state of responsibility towards those
who will come after us. We are, in other words, surrounded by
a web of relationships that shapes our cultural and moral obligations. Sprawling us beyond a preoccupation with
our own generations circumstances and needs. The implications of such a societal model
for addressing issues such as climate change and maintaining systems of
accountability within a democratic society are obvious. We are not our own masters, but errors and
stewards of the past and servants of the generation to come. So for the most part, the symbol of
new harmony remains intact and full. The place represents a distinct and sound
sense of being and a philosophy that in various ways, uh, carries across the
generations and is articulated in the relationships people have with
the physical and spiritual world. The approach has embodied philosophy,
religion, the natural sciences here. It was the first generation of the raps
and Owens that set the blueprint in motion and the success of generations have
continued to refine the design. The architecture of this place continues
to speak of its spiritual and cultural meanings embodied in the welcome that is
extended through the very modern Athenaeum into a community of a
deep rooted identity. So in conclusion, then revisiting the
meaning of new harmony on this occasion comes at a time when, of course, the
United States is convulsed with the conflicts of the deeply divisive politics. This is a period in time which has been
compared, uh, often with the state of affairs in the late 1850s and early 1860s
when America was divided by issues of statehood and slavery. A time when there was a sense of
inevitability and perhaps dismantle in such times that is perhaps useful. Then to step back and take the long view,
to remember the structure of the long DeRay that transcends the heat of the
moment and to reflect on the element of time that most powerfully shapes
the outcome of current events. In that regard, new
harmony is instructive. For the ways in which it was born. It has borne witness across time and
across multiple utopian experiments and is therefore a model of the process that
is at the heart of sustainability. The beauty of this model is that it has
endured in this community and it has survived time and place in spite of the
fact that the individuals who initiated this vision did not live
to see its completion. The ensuing generations have not strayed
from their vision, and it is in that sense that we might look to new harmony in
our own day as a resource for hope. So thank you.

Posted by Lewis Heart

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