Thursday, October 21, 2010

The legacy of lace

CAMPUS MINISTRY held a nice event in the Circle during Founders Week earlier this month with the intent of exposing students to a bit of CSJ history. The "Day of Lace" referred to the beautiful but important handicraft of lacemaking, which our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph, taught to poor women early in the Order's foundation.

We might admire lace for the skill and artistry that goes into it, but we also need to remember that it meant the difference between starvation or prostitution and a life of dignity for widows and orphaned girls in 17th Century France. And it's still going on: The Sisters in some communities teach lacemaking as a meditative practice.

For Lace Day, Mount students decorated doilies and received lace-wrapped lollipops labeled with a short narrative about the CSJs. Sister Mary McKay, CSJ, of our religious studies faculty gave a short talk. This legacy is new to a lot of students, and most seemed to be paying close attention. Isn't it good to know from whence we've come?

The photo shows some of the Campus Ministry girls with a gift from a Mount alumna. Eileen Nason Rhyner '32 recently donated a handpainted wooden tray depicting Le Puy, the tiny French village where the lace ministry got going in 1650. Eileen's 60-year-old souvenir gave the Day of Lace some real geography to work with, and the tray will now become part of the CSJs' history collection at Carondelet Center.

With Lace Day, the legacy lives on.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Santa Clara Bible exhibit

I MENTIONED in an earlier post that several of our historic Bibles, including the London Polyglot, would be on display at the University of Santa Clara as part of an exhibit of important editions.

The website for "Scribes, Saints and Scholars: the Bible, 1150-2010" is up at The exhibit will run through January, 2011, in the 3rd Floor Gallery of the Harrington Learning Commons on the SCU campus. The gallery is adjacent to SCU's Special Collections department.

Spanish Chalon

Keyhole arch, Chalon.
FOR THE ARCHITECTURE TOUR I gave during Alum Day earlier this month, I handed out some side-by-side photos of Spanish university architecture and our own at Chalon. Burgos, Salamanca and Sevilla were the inspirations for the Mount's original architect, Mark Daniels, and when you line them up, the similarities are striking.

Here are a couple of photos I didn't use: the graceful arch looking toward the apron in front of Mary Chapel (left) and a keyhole arch at Salamanca.

There is something so characteristically Mediterranean about a shadowed arch looking onto a sunlit plaza. Daniels meant for the Mount's master plan to capitalize on L.A.'s exceptional climate, building in intimate, outdoor spaces wherever he could tuck one into Chalon's limited square footage.

He also had a strong sense of the cloister -- Europe's oldest universities all began as monasteries -- so many of these intimate spaces have the feeling of quiet enclosure, yet open to the skies and hills. Each opening frames a thoughtfully composed view, or did in 1929 when Brady Hall occupied its hilltop alone.

Keyhole arch, Salamanca.
Not surprisingly, this is almost entirely lost on most of the students, who are too preoccupied to pay much attention to little details like arches. Alumnae on the tour, on the other hand, were very happy to slow down and take notice of their beautiful alma mater, seei

ng some things for the first time.