Publisher: Informed Decisions Publishing, October 8, 2013
Category: Nonfiction – multicultural; cultural/social issues; biography & memoirs; art criticism
Tour Dates: February, 2014
Available in: ebook, 143 pages
Norman Rockwell’s America was not all white. As early as 1936, Rockwell was portraying people of color with empathy and a dignity often denied them at the time. And he created these portraits from live models.
Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America unfolds, for the first time, the stories of the Asian, African, and Native Americans who modeled for Norman Rockwell. These people of color, though often hidden in plain sight, are present throughout Rockwell’s more than 4000 illustrations. People like the John Lane family, Navajos poignantly depicted in the virtually unknown Norman Rockwell painting, “Glen Canyon Dam.” People like Isaac Crawford, a ten year old African-American Boy Scout who helped Norman Rockwell finally integrate the Boy Scout calendar.
In this engrossing and often humorous narrative, Jane Allen Petrick explores what motivated Norman Rockwell to slip people of color “into the picture” in the first place. And in so doing, she persuasively documents the famous illustrator’s deep commitment to and pointed portrayals of ethnic tolerance, portrayals that up to now have been, as Norman Rockwell biographer Laura Claridge so clearly put it, “bizarrely neglected”.
Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America is an eye opener for everyone who loves Norman Rockwell, everyone who hates Norman Rockwell and for all those people in between who never thought much about Norman Rockwell because they believed Norman Rockwell never thought much about them. This book will expand the way you think about Norman Rockwell. And it will deepen the way you think about Norman Rockwell’s America.
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Praise for Hidden In Plain Sight:
“A fresh, well-researched study of artist Norman Rockwell’s treatment of race.”
Petrick (Beyond Time Management, 1998), in this smart, nuanced book, encourages readers to look again at Rockwell s varied body of work. She argues that Rockwell was far from a closed-minded portrait artist; he actually went to great lengths to represent African-Americans and other minorities in his works, motivated by an intense desire to represent all of America. She provides many frequently overlooked examples,including Working on the Statue of Liberty (1946), which depicts five workers cleaning the famous statue; the model for the figures was white, but Rockwell painted one of the workers as having brown skin.
Petrick relays all this with clarity and insight, drawing on the portraits, Rockwell s own biography and the ample scholarship that surrounds the artist. She also talks to the African-American models for some of his paintings, and these interviews can feel extraneous at times, as when the author occasionally delves too much into the models lives today. However, they highlight Rockwell’s desire to capture all facets of America and all of its stories.
The irony, Petrick wisely points out, is that so few people choose to see this side of Rockwell today, preferring instead the whitewashed version. In this book, she manages to say something revealing about the artist and about us. A brief but enlightening social history of a great American artist. -Kirkus Review
“Whether you love the work of Norman Rockwell, hate it or just haven’t given it that much thought, after all it pervades most of American life in one way or another, this book is well worth your time to read to gain a new perspective on his work, or allow you to look at it with fresh eyes.
Through thoroughly engaging and captivating stories the Author lets the reader into the mind of Mr. Rockwell and experience his feelings about those in society who are ‘hidden in plain sight’. This book features a section of those people, those of colour, who he used as models for his work which in turn served to give his illustrations a depth and also a social awareness that many have failed to notice. In compiling this book the Author provides the reader with a greater understanding of America, as seen through the brush strokes of an artist who snubbed his nose at convention and included people in his artwork that were largely overlooked by society as a whole. I highly recommend it.”-Cate’s Book Nut Hut
“Hidden in Plain Sight shows a beautiful and fun kind of history. It’s the kind that has not been told within the confines of a normal history of Rockwell. Any history or art buff will love to get their hands on this fascinating display of culture, history, and an America revealed.” -Katelyn Hensel, Readers Favorite
“ This book delivers more than beautifully written narratives and documentation about some of the many hidden lives of the models for Norman Rockwell. This elegant book simultaneously brings to life aspects of the Artist and the Man and looks closely at the Icon himself in unpretentious, non-didactic, easy-to-read prose. This is pure American History; gracefully revealed on multiple levels.”- Niobrara, Amazon Reviewer
About Jane Allen Petrick:
Jane Allen Petrick is the author of several books on topics ranging from biography to workplace issues. She was a bi-weekly columnist for the Knight Ridder Newswire, and her articles have appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, the Denver Post and the Washington Post. Kirkus Review describes her book, Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America as “smart, nuanced” and written with “clarity and insight.”
Born and raised in Connecticut, Jane earned a BA in economics from Barnard College and received her Ph.D. in organizational psychology from Saybrook University. Retired as a vice-president of ATT Wireless, she is now an adjunct professor at Capella and American Sentinel Universities, and has provided consultation in organizational behavior and diversity competence to numerous corporate clients including IBM, Nextel and Xerox.
Jane Allen Petrick was chosen as one of the “100 Best and Brightest Business Women in America” by Ebony Magazine.
Long a passionate supporter of cultural and historic preservation, Jane has contributed to local preservation efforts in both Florida and New York State. A licensed tour director, Jane conducts cultural heritage tours on the East Coast, from the Everglades to the Maritimes.
Jane and her husband, Kalle, divide their time between New York’s Hudson Valley and Miami, Florida.
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