Worcester State University Students respond
to the exhibition Kennedy to Kent State: Images of a Generation
These writings grow out of a pilot project between Worcester State University and the Worcester Art Museum. Students of Professor Mark Wagner, Professor Adrian Gage, and Professor Domingo Guyton viewed the exhibition Kennedy to Kent State and were then tasked with writing about the photographs. The program included a lecture by Assistant Curator Nancy Burns, and talks with Professors Kristin Waters and Professor Michael Hachey from WSU.
In the “Lone Soldier” photograph, which was taken in 1972 in Vietnam, I had only one interpretation after viewing it for a short period of time. The interpretation I got out of it was hopelessness and sadness.
Everyone always feels bad for that one person who is by themselves with no one to talk to. I think this is what the photographer wanted people to feel within the first 5 seconds of looking at this picture. Right when I saw him by himself walking with his head down it reminded me of the person with no one talk to and no one to rely on. It immediately made me think that this soldier needed to get out of Vietnam and back to a place where he could be with someone he knew, like family. Given the period of time when this photo was taken, I believe the photographer was trying to make the viewer feel this way because of how people were against the war. The environment in the photo really sets the mood for me in any photo I’m looking at. The “Lone Soldier” photo was no exception. Everything around this soldier is completely destroyed, leaving me with the thought that there is no hope for this guy. I can almost guarantee if there had been some sort of life in the environment around him, like trees and other green, it would appear less depressing. You can also tell that something devastating has just occurred here because all the trees that would be there are clearly demolished and burned. If I saw a place like this I would immediately know this isn’t a safe place for any living animal.
The Man on the Moon
On Tuesday October 9, 2012 our first year seminar class partnered with Professor Domingo’s class and took a trip to the Worcester Art Museum to view the Kennedy to Kent State exhibit. Among all the photographs that were displayed, one picture in particular stood out to me. On July 21, 1969 the footsteps of a man named Neil Armstrong stumbled upon a whole new discovery. Neil was the first man to walk on the moon. Breathtaking photographs were taken to document this new era of American accomplishments, which show the advance of humankind in this time period.
The photo caught my eye the moment I first saw the picture of the man on the moon. My favorite part of this picture is the reflection on the astronaut’s space helmet. Also, the helmets reflection mirrored the lunar lander, the American flag, and the photographer. According to the title at the museum, Buzz Aldrin took this mesmerizing photograph. The photographer captured the astronaut’s footprints in the dirt which brought my eyes to the picture. The subject was dressed in a white space suit and his knees were covered in dirt. He might have knelt down to examine what the moon’s surface was like. The subject is looking straight towards the audience which leads the viewer’s eyes to the photo. This powerful photograph attracts its viewers because it makes one feel like they are a participant in the scene.
Around the year of 1969, many technological advances occurred. One major technological advance was Apollo 11. Being able to land on the moon was a huge success. During this time period, a network of computers called the Arpanet allowed fast communication between other computers (Girard, 7). Six weeks after Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, the ATM was dispensing cash on September 2, 1969 (6). The year of 1969 brought about the developments in technology.
Photography has a deep impact in my life. Throughout high school, I studied photography. During photo class I had a teacher named Mr. Rheault who taught us about the first camera on the moon. One day he told us how this camera was called the Hasselblad. Mr. Rheault explained to us that the photographer left the camera on the moon and kept the film so that they could bring samples from the moon back home. Today there are still cameras left on the moon. This photograph has a deep meaning to me because I already had this connection through the background information that my high school teacher shared with us.
The time between 1960 and 1970 was successful in changing American history. President John F. Kennedy developed Peace Corps with the idea of sending Americans abroad to help other nations. Kennedy also initiated space exploration and after his death, American astronauts landed on the moon. After Kennedy’s assassination, President Lyndon B. Johnson wanted to build a “Great Society” for the citizens of America by increasing federal spending, launching new health care, food stamps, and financial aid to students (U.S. Department of State, 3). Therefore, this period was described as a time of development.
However, The 1960s and the 1970s were also a difficult time for America. The United States took part in the Vietnam War. America went through a trade deficit, making the cost of imports high and low-selling exports (U.S. Department of State, 4). Energy prices were made higher and oil became short. Inflation was a major problem during this time. The rate of unemployment was high and the stock market was declining. This picture of the man on the moon captured how Earth was so beautiful while, inside, it was so tragic.
During the late 1960s feminism spread across the United States. Women were working for education, employment and reproductive rights (Napikoski, 1). Abortion was a major issue for women. During this time, women wanted to have a say in the issue of abortion. Therefore, the lives of women improved during this period of time.
“It was really neat, he was practically jumping instead of walking because of the change in gravity”, explained my grandmother. My grandma remembered seeing the picture of the American flag being put on the moon. She described it as “something you would never think you would see”. This didn’t affect my grandmother as much because she would stay at home with her children. She told me that it would’ve affected my grandfather more because he was always out and about for work and other errands. During this time it was all over the news. This mission was such a huge part of American history.
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” said Neil Armstrong when he took his first step on the moon. America went through many ups and downs during this period of time. Walking on the moon was a huge step for mankind because many people thought landing on the moon was impossible. Impossible is nothing. Even if your dreams are big, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Does this photograph inspire you?
The photo, Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company at Woodstock 1969 by Rowland Sherman is different than the pictures of Janis I have seen before. Looking at this photo I feel as though I am in the front row of Woodstock in 1969, possessed by the sound. Live music has a certain persuasion to it, making you believe everyone in the crowd is just one part of the same body. Seeing this photograph, even in a quiet room, I can almost feel how the intoxicating music at Woodstock would have made me feel. This snapshot possesses a mystical appearance of Janis as it appears she is the only thing visible in a darkened room. My first impression was that it reminded me of paintings of biblical scenes done by famous artists. The long, drooping arms of her jacket resemble those of a prophet’s robe. From watching original videos of Janis singing you notice how much soul she puts forth into her songs. Her music is more of a spiritual experience and I can practically hear her voice radiating from the developed film. Her hair, as always, worn in a natural mess gives the picture a freeing quality. The way her hand drops gives the picture of a calming aura. Her head is tilted up to the sky and her posture alludes that she is singing up to something bigger than herself. Janis looks much like a prophet of music preaching to the people in the crowd.
Read Between The Lines
When walking into the Kennedy to Kent State art exhibit I was overcome with emotion just by looking at all of the work that had gone into making this exhibit. This time period was one that many hold very close to their hearts, and I could tell by listening to those who created the exhibit and by looking at the exhibit itself, that a lot of time and effort was put into something that many are very passionate about. I believe we were taken to this exhibit so that we were able to see what kind of story can be told in just a quick snap shot of a picture. It was clear to me that every picture that was put in the exhibit had its own story that was meant to be told. Being given this assignment was encouraging every student to really look inside of a piece of art work and see how the image affected them, and what story was being told to the viewer. When asked to choose just one image to write about, the choice was hard. So many of these images called to me, and I was intrigued by each and every one. The one that stood out the most to me and the one that I wanted to look into even further would have to be the image by Nick Ut, entitled “Children Fleeing Napalm Attack on their Village of Trang Bang.”
The image of Patty Hearst holding a weapon as she robbed the Hibernia National Bank caught my attention for its rawness and simplicity. The photograph was taken on April 15, 1974 at the Sunset district branch of the Hibernia National Bank in San Francisco, California. Hearst had been kidnapped by the Symboinese Liberation Army (SLA) on February 4, 1974 from her apartment in Berkeley, California, which she shared with her fiancé Steven Weed. More than a year later, Hearst was arrested in September of 1975 with fellow SLA members.
Patty Hearst was the heir to the Hearst fortune, dating back to her great grandfather George Hearst. The Symbionese Liberation Armey an American self-styled leftist revolutionary group that was active from 1973-1975 kidnapped Patty. After the kidnapping the SLA looked to trade Hearst and other hostages for the release of detained SLA members. When that plan was foiled they asked the Hearst family to give each needy family in California $70 worth of food. The Hearst’s decided to instead give a total of $6 million worth of food to families in the Bay Area of California. The SLA was not satisfied so they detained Patty, supposedly sexually assaulting her and brainwashing her into breaking the law and performing acts of violence on the SLA’s behalf. In recordings Patty said she had joined the SLA and was helping in their revolutionists activities, though this decision is often looked to as a symptom of Stockholm syndrome.
In the image Patty Hearst stands in the empty Hibernia National Bank with a cold look on her face as she holds the rifle. The picture itself was taken by the security system at the Bank and shows that Patty herself ordered around the bank patrons when she and her fellow SLA members entered. Patty’s eyes hold a blank stare looking to be off in another world. Her knees buckling and feet at an angle make it appear that Hearst is nervous somewhere on the inside.
The image sheds light on the society of the times and the search for everyone’s place to feel accepted. It would appear Hearst felt that she belonged with the SLA and that her life as an heiress socialite was less than to be desired. The psychology of the picture goes much deeper than the image shows, as Hearst was perceivably brainwashed at the time of the robbery and for almost a year afterwards.
Patty Hearst’s life was a strange one and this image focuses on more than a years’ worth of brainwashing and sexual abuse as she joined the SLA. The eventual arrest, conviction, and pardoning of Hearst by President Clinton is not seen in this photo, but the trying times of the 1960’s and 70’s are shown. The search for acceptance while still having individualism is one proven by the story of Patty Hearst and one with relevance to today. The extremist movement of the SLA isn’t one to be admired but the revolutionary movement in politics, socially, and economically is something that is happening now. What can be learned from this image and the story of Patty Hearst is, no matter what, never forget who you are.
The picture entitled "The Kennedys Walk in John F. Kennedy's Funeral" centers Jacqueline, Robert and Ted (Unknown). Dark solemn faces, attire, and emotions clouded the air. Jacqueline, dressed in traditional catholic attire, silently walks in the center of the two brothers, a place normally regarded for the male head of the family. Joseph Patrick Kennedy was one of the few Kennedys that was not at the walking, he was awaiting his family at the St. Matthew, the Apostle church. Jacqueline going against traditional 1960's values walks directly in line with the brothers, showing that she is equal in grievance as well as stature. Her veil covered her face, making her facial expression faint.
The children, who at this time represent the only happiness found in the Kennedy family, are nowhere to be found. The caption below the picture depicts that they are in the black limo following behind the procession (Unknown). The children are either all knowing, or unknowing at the same time. It is shown in other pictures their happiness during this time. Playing around the Whitehouse grounds, holding the hand of their mother, but in this one they are nowhere to be seen. It leaves you curious to the fact of who is comforting them while their family is walking up front? Is anyone comforting them? Do they actually understand what is happening?
Next to the family members stand many dignitaries, family friends, and cabinet members. Next to Robert and Ted stand two middle-aged gentlemen, solemn faced, glancing towards the crowds of people gathered around the streets to pay their respects. They followed a short distanced behind the Senator, and Attorney General, never more than 3 steps behind. Almost a foreshadow of what would happen in the future.
The Kennedy's at this time where the light in our country; a new step in the direction towards a generation of enlightenment and change. JFK was the first Catholic president. The family was known for its ability to speak, lead, and fight for what they believed in. At JFK's grave site his inaugural address, is inscribed on his headstone. A piece that truly shows the Kennedy's ability to pick up, and carry on was:
"In the long history of the world
Only a few generations have been granted
The role of defending freedom
In the hour of maximum danger
I do not shrink from this responsibility
I welcome it" (Arlington National Cemetery ).
To have anyone that has been threatened, shot at, or killed, walk out in public shows bravery and that no one will be able to silence the future. This picture is an incredible depiction of not only the Kennedy's, but of the state of the country. Taking what has happened, only to stride forward from it into the future. Taking that step towards what is going to happen, no matter who tries to stand in the way.
On November 25th 1963 an iconic photo was taken outside of St. Matthews Cathedral in Washington D.C. The picture is of a three year old child saluting the casket of his recently assassinated father. Nearly 50 years later, I am writing about that very picture. As I sit in my quiet, warm dorm room at Worcester State University I will attempt to summarize and offer an interpretation of why that photograph still has meaning beyond merely a 'story' of a moment in time. The picture of John Kennedy Jr., or John John as he was often called, is one that can touch the hearts of any person that is privileged enough to see it.
The iconic photo was captured by Stan Stearns who was on an assignment for United Press International. Stearns, who died this past March at the age of 76, "had covered Mrs. Kennedy many times before" (Flegenheimer, Matt. "Stan Stearns, Photographer of John F Kennedy Jr.'s Salute to Father. Dies at 76" NYC Times, NP. 16 March 2012 Web. 14, Octb2012). It was this reason that he was given credit to know when and where to be to capture this timeless photo. He had positioned himself across the street to Mrs. Kennedy and had focused his lens on her and John Jr. When he saw the arm of John Jr. go up he knew that he was going to get the shot of the entire funeral. With a single click, he knew that he had the shot. He did not go to the funeral at Arlington Cemetery, he went to develop the photo immediately; a decision that nearly cost him his job.
A child that had just lost his father, something that many three year old children would not be able to fully understand, was able to see through the confusion and saluted to his president's casket. JFK was a president that had challenged the world and the image that people had of the president. He was a young, good looking man that had been faced with the destruction of the world and had pulled America through without harm. He was facing the crisis of the Vietnam War and was going to pull troops back, something that would have made the public happy. It could have saved the country billions of dollars and thousands of lives. The country had lost their leader. Even with the pain of losing his father he knew that he had to be strong, and show respect to his leader. After seeing how strong a three year old child could be after the death of his father, the people of the United States were called to do the same thing.
In his act of showing the casket of his father the respect of a man to his Commander in Chief he had done something that was far beyond his years. Not only had he shown a respectful act, he had made one that all people would be able to understand the ultimate respect of a son to his father. In various places and ways people have shown how sacred the respect that a son must have for his father is. Possible the most famous is that of Jesus Christ who acted to the wishes of his father even to his death. In the eyes of some, an equally famous time would be that of Luke Skywalker when he had heard that Vader was his father he was changed; he knew at that moment that he would be unable to kill Vader. A son showing respect to his father is something that has been and will be shown as a key theme in countless ways time and time again.
Aside from appealing to the thought that people know of respect, he had appealed to a basic emotion that all people know, love. When one looks at the picture even if they did not know what it was, they will be able to relate to the loss of a loved one. Almost all people have lost somebody that they love; to see a child have his last act to the casket of his loved one be one that sends him off in a mature and respectable way calls forward any thought that somebody has of their loved and lost one.
The picture captured that fateful day outside of St. Matthews in Washington D.C is one that will be able to live in immortality. It is able to tell a story of emotion, pain, respect, and love. It is rare when people are able to capture so many emotions in one single image. JFK Jr. was able to show that even in the death of his father he will still respect and love him forever. "Unable are the loved to die/ For Love is immortality"(Dickerson,Unable are the Loved to die) as will the rest of the country. Many a times when I have viewed that picture throughout my times studying the 1960's have I wondered how was he able to know to salute his father? How was he able to know when? Was he told to salute his father? If you were a child of the most powerful man in the world would you be able to show the respect to him and the country rather than allowing your emotions to get the best of you?
Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival 1967
It's only Monday October 15, 2012, where has the time gone? Sitting on my bed in Dowden I wish I was at the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967 to watch the unforgettable moment when Jimi Hendrix gave the audience a run for their money. Jimi was a man of his words one thing he did say is "All I'm gonna do is just go on and do what I feel."(Hendrix). This unforgettable performance at the Pop Festival goes into more detail then what he says he's going to do what he feels. Let's go back to the time of the Pop Festival.
During the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967, Jimi put on an unforgettable performance of "Wild Thing". This performance made music more popular in the United States due to the ending performance. During the performance the music was very emotional, and you could feel Jimi's emotions through his playing. Looking at the photo shot by Jim Marshall you can see the emotion captured in Jimi's face. Jimi knew what he was doing by lighting his guitar on fire.
Looking at the photo you can see that he seems happy. It almost makes you think he is letting all the burdens from the past go by putting his career to flames. I do not mean, "to flames," in a bad way either. I mean it in a fantastic way because The Jimi Hendrix Experience was never on T.V. and rarely on the airwaves. So this was making them take flight. His facial expression says I can finally start new, no one is stopping me. Jimi by all means is a free spirit, but to put his music on the line; was he crazy? On drugs?
The setting of the guitar on fire was the breakthrough for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, because it were different from anything that anyone had seen in the United States. People went crazy when they heard, or saw this. But then again people did see these types of things because the band The Who smashed their musical instruments on stage at the end of their act. Jimi however was just coming back from being in England so this was new for him. The Who allowed Jimi to take the show because Jimi said he was going to light the world on fire.
A wise man once said, "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace (Hendrix)". What Jimi means by this is that when people all decided to love one another and forget about everything and just "feel" what's around them everyone will be at peace. It is like when Jimi is up on stage playing his music he is addicted to the sound that is why he is such a great, by far the best guitar player that has ever lived. When he lit his guitar on stage it was life changing for him and his band along with the United States. This opened the eyes of people to realize that music is not just there for the fun of it. Something like burning a guitar on stage impacts the life of people. The act on stage makes a person see real business; that its time not to take things for granted, it's time to live for now, not for the past or the future. Never forget to live, but most of all, never forget to love. Love is the most powerful thing known to man, "The time I burned my guitar it was like a sacrifice. You sacrifice the things you love. I love my guitar (Hendrix)".
The End of "Camelot"
November 22, 1963 is a day that "Camelot" fell into sadness and despair. Camelot was the nickname for the Kennedy Administration. The president had interest in the story of King Arthur and was considered royalty (http://www.bukisa.com <http://www.bukisa.com/> ). President John F Kennedy had been assassinated on live national television. People could not believe that the beloved president had just been shot. It was a nightmare that America could not awake from. The man that killed the president was Lee Harvey Oswald. He was later killed by Jack Ruby a night club owner. The death of a president had not occurred since Abraham Lincoln in 1865. The photo of the assassination was taken by Abraham Zapruder. In the photo you can see the president had just been shot and was slumping forward. Also you can notice that the First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, is looking at her husband to see if he was ok. This photo would forever capture one of the saddest moments in American History, the death of a president.
The Assassination of President John F Kennedy is definitely an extremely sad event that changed history forever. Who knows what could have occurred in history if JFK had never been killed. Would our involvement in Vietnam increased? Would Lyndon B. Johnson ever become president? If JFK lived, would he had ended Vietnam when the people demanded it in end of the late 60's? What if Lee Harvey Oswald had been sick that day and was bed ridden, would President John F Kennedy lived longer? All these questions, we will never know the answer to and some even say things happen for a reason. Other times we say it might just have been chance that it occurred. The photo is a snapshot of what occurred that fateful day on November 22, 1963.
The photograph of the assassination shows the exact moment that the bullet hit the president. He had been riding in a motorcade in Texas campaigning for the upcoming election. The president, Jackie Kennedy, and his administration were popular and were sure they were going to get four more years in the oval office. Sadly that dream of four more years of "Camelot" would suddenly end on November 22, 1963. President John F Kennedy's re-election campaign promised education, national security, and world peace. Both parties, Democrats and Republicans showed a strong favor for him. (http://www.jfklibrary.org). This strong favor from both parties had not been witnessed since the election of George Washington. This seemed appealing to voters and many were going to vote for him again. At 12:30 pm gunshots rang out and hit the president in the neck and head. At 1:00 pm at Parkland Memorial Hospital, President John F Kennedy was pronounced dead. At 2:30 pm on Air Force One, Vice President Lyndon B Johnson took the oath of office and was declared president (http://www.jfklibrary.org). The emotions of 10-23-63 can be compared in some way to 9-11-01 because America completely shut down in anguish and images flooded the television. People felt horror, anger, anguish, and sadness everywhere. People during both days saw images of the tragedy on TV, in newspapers, both days had blue skies, started out as average normal days, and people wanting to know who was behind it. Both days would change this great nation forever and pull the American people together under the umbrella of patriotism. The man who took the historically tragic photo was Abraham Zapruder.
Abraham Zapruder was born in the Ukraine on May 15, 1905. He moved to the United States of America in 1920 for a better life. He had moved to Dallas, Texas in 1941 where the assassination was to take place in 1963. On November 22, 1963 Zapruder was filming the motorcade with his secretary Lillian Rogers who convinced him to take photos of the event. So he went home and returned later on with his film camera. When Zapruder returned to the event crowds had formed to catch a glimpse of the president passing by. America had no clue that he wanted to get a great photo of President John F Kennedy passing by. Unknowingly that photo would not capture the president waving to the public but the president being murdered. Zapruder took the photos of the president in his last seconds before being shot in public view. He sold the photo to Life Magazine for 150,000 dollars. This photo would later be used in the Warren Commission Report. The Warren Commission was to decide if Oswald was the lone assassin. (http://www.spartacus)
In conclusion, the photo of the Assassination of President John F Kennedy shows one of the most tragic moments in American History. The death of a president by assassination had not occurred since Abraham Lincoln was killed by John Wilkes Booth. President John F Kennedy was one of America's most beloved presidents and had a high favorability rating. This administration would be known as Camelot because people looked up to him as royalty. Also because the president liked the stories of King Arthur, the Round Table, and Camelot. The assassination of President John F Kennedy was a shock to the nation and the world. This would change the course of America and world history. Would we of lasted as long in Vietnam? Would Lyndon B Johnson been elected as president? Many questions like this come up when discussing this tragedy. At 12:30 pm on November 22, 1963 "Camelot" would come to a sudden end with the death of a much loved president.
This photo took place on October 22, 1967 in Berkeley California. This photo is describing an anti-war march on the Pentagon; these are people protesting against war. It looks as if this photo was taken outside on what looks like a dirt ground, there are about 12 or 13 soldiers surrounding about four civilians. It seems as if all these people are generously close to one another which makes me think there are a lot of other people in this area. There is specifically one young man who is directly placing a flower in the top of a rifle while others are standing around watching, and supporting. I cannot exactly tell if the soldiers are going along with the civilians or not. It looks like one of the soldiers is either pulling the flowers out or adjusting them in some way. There is one general emotion that I get from this photo which is unhappiness. I say this because when you look at the men's faces that are showing towards the camera they are not happy or smiling. It does not look like a happy day for any of these people. This photo makes me feel helpless since I have never had to experience something to this extreme. This photo also makes me feel strongly about the support that others are showing towards their fellow troops. I actually feel many emotions when looking at this photo because of how dramatic the flowers are in contrast with the guns and soldiers. When I thought about whether I was a participant of this photo or a viewer I always felt as a viewer and that is because this is not really a situation I would ever want to be in because of how much more people were effected by war back than compared to how people deal with the war now. Therefore I am okay with just being the viewer and that is where I stand with this photo. After really looking at this photo over and over again it has actually left me with peaceful thoughts, overall this picture is trying to send a positive message which is exactly what I got from this photo after all. I want to end with a quote that I think really supports the way I feel about this photo. "The cry of 'Flower Power' echoes through the land. We shall not wilt. Let a thousand flowers bloom." –Abbie Hoffman.