Category Archives: The People

The Menokin Ghost Structure: Memoria and Kairos

MAKE SOMETHING WITH YOUR HANDS

This structure will be 15ft x 25ft. The enclosed wall surfaces will be transparent and developed in the future for educational interpretation. Participants are spending the week learning wood working and joinery techniques that were used in the 18th century.

Based on information derived from archaeological excavations, we will be recreating the framework of a dwelling that would have been lived in by Menokin’s field slaves.

DAY ONE: The Work Begins

MAKE SOMETHING WITH YOUR MIND

THE MENOKIN GHOST STRUCTURE serves as a physical metaphor to foster discourse and assist people in forming and participating in conversations about slavery as it relates to the Menokin site, the history of America and current events.

MEMORIA is a Latin term, and can be translated as “memory.” Memoria was the discipline of recalling the arguments of a discourse in classical rhetoric. Creating outline structures of the major arguments of a discourse would also aid memory.

KAIROS dictates that what is said must be said at the right time. In addition to timeliness, kairos considers appropriateness. The term also implies being knowledgeable of and involved in the environment where the situation is taking place in order to benefit fully from seizing the opportune moment.

The size of the building is known from the archaeological evidence. However, because there are no photographs of it, we are recreating only the timber framing of the structure, which will be clad in a transparent sheath. We are calling this building the Ghost Structure: Memoria and Kairos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The design, drawings and renderings of
the Ghost Structure were created by architect Reid Freeman, who also serves on the Menokin Board of Trustees.

 

 

 

True to our unique vision, we are not creating a reproduction of a slave dwelling, but instead a constructed form that will generate dialog about our past, with the flexibility to garner new knowledge, awareness and understanding. Once completed, this structure will be used as an educational classroom, and will serve as the centerpiece in telling the African American story – both past and present – in Richmond County, Virginia and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Think Outside The Sink

By Alice French | Education and Outreach Coordinator

Spring has finally come and Westmoreland and Essex County 6th graders spent the day at Menokin learning about the Rappahannock River Valley Watershed.

The students from Mrs. Beale’s science classes at Montross Middle School (pictured here) spent their chilly weathered day with several activities including learning how to paddle a canoe, water testing, a special Hard Hat Tour, learning about the daffodils which grow at Menokin, painting with soil and learning about mapping. The students kept warm by keeping active.

The following week, Mrs. Layne’s classes from Essex Intermediate visited on a day with wild changes in the weather! One sure way to get to know your environment is to spend a field day outdoors in the Spring! The unexpected rain changed our morning activities and the students stayed indoors and learned about the making of buildings and the teamwork involved while they got to create some of their own architectural structures. They also got to develop their very own 100 acres of land and learn how what we build effects our watershed. Then with a break in the clouds, we went outdoors for canoe and house tour activities, until the strong gusting spring winds brought everyone back off the water to conclude the day.

This program is part of a partnership with multiple environmental educators. Menokin joined Friends of the Rappahannock and 4H to give these students a fun and educational field day. “A River Runs Through Us” is part of a year long program that allows students to achieve the Virginia mandate of each child having a meaningful watershed experience and teach kids how to continue to be stewards of their waterways.

VMFA Traveling Exhibit: African American Mosaic

BY: Alice French | Menokin Education and Outreach Coordinator

Hi! Be sure to attend this traveling exhibit at Menokin until March 31st. It’s called the African American Mosaic. Included in the exhibit are 11 images of art by African Americans from 1850 to present.
Juliana at the selfie wall in the style of Gustav Klimt.

We also have a selfie wall with props, to create a setting similar to a Kehinde Wiley portrait, which we would love you to use and share on social media (just use tag #VFMAatMenokin). Wiley is the portrait artist who just completed Barack Obama’s presidential portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.  

We also have information on Amy Sherald, an African American woman (seeing as it is now Women’s History Month) who painted Michelle Obama’s official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.

Shantavia Beale II” (detail) by Kehinde Wiley, 2012

This is a great opportunity to expose yourself to world class artwork close to home, and see part of the VMFA’s great collection, which our Statewide Community Partnership allows us to bring to the Northern Neck.

At Menokin it is our goal to continue to share our resources with our community. It’s so important to bring relevant art and history to rural areas like ours.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. But it’s only here until the end of March, so don’t wait too long!

Madeira and the American Revolution

The history of Madeira is “a bit” murky and “a lot” thought provoking. Our personal fondness and affiliation with the drink stems from the ample supply of Madeira found in the inventory of Frank Lee after his death.

Menokin Wine Cellar (c) Hullihen Williams Moore

(SIDE THOUGHT: Wouldn’t it be FUN to have a Madeira tasting party in the wine cellar at Menokin? Email us if you’re interested. )

We have touched on the topic once before, with this interview with Julia Pearson and Bartholomew Broadbent about the history of Madeira and how it went from dreadful to delicious through a happy shipping misadventure.

But up until now, we haven’t given the Malmsey the credit it deserves in the formation of a more perfect union.  In a recent post on Atlas Obscura, writer Daniel Crown explores the Colonial obsession with Madeira in an article titled How a Thirst for Portuguese Wine Fueled the American RevolutionIt’s a good read chock full of quirky facts and figures. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • On August 8, 1775, two months after taking charge of his army, George Washington procured a large cask of the wine, as well as empty bottles, corks, and other paraphernalia. Over the next six months, he purchased hundreds of additional bottles and, eventually, an entire “pipe” (a term derived from the Portuguese word for barrel, “pipa”). A pipe of madeira held enough wine to fill 700 bottles, and a cask roughly the same. Washington, then, in preparation for war, ordered at least 1,900 bottles worth of the wine to be shared among his closest aides and confidants. (Party on, George!)
  • In 1766, John Hancock celebrated the repeal of the Stamp Act by setting two pipes of madeira out in front of his house for public consumption.  (Party on, large signature guy!)
  • In 1774, John Adams reported to his wife, Abigail, that after tedious days of contentious debate, delegates to the First Continental Congress would sit for hours “drinking Madeira, Claret, and Burgundy.” (Party on, Founding Fathers!)

(ANOTHER SIDE THOUGHT: We would love to have a signature Menokin Madeira created for us. If you are, or know, an adventurous winemaker, let’s chat. You know our email address.)

What do Menokin and NNEC have in common? Jay Garner!

A familiar face on the Menokin Foundation’s Board of Trustees is now the new public relations manager at Northern Neck Electric Cooperative (NNEC).

Jay’s duties will include writing the NNEC pages for Cooperative Living Magazine, managing internal and external communications and overseeing social media outlets.

Join us in congratulating Jay on his new position!

2018 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Architectural Education goes to Jorge Silvetti

COPIED IN FULL FROM THE  AIA.

Search “Harvard Graduate School of Design” on Menokin’s blog for more posts about their collaboration with The Menokin Glass House project.

2018 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Architectural Education
Jorge Silvetti, Int’l Assoc. AIA
Jorge Silvetti-02
2018 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion for Architectural Education Recipient

Born in Argentina, Jorge Silvetti has taught at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design since 1975, serving as a gifted professor and mentor, and with Rodolfo Machado has worked as a design leader in Boston since 1974. While his influence at GSD was most strongly felt from 1995–2002, when he served as chair of the architecture program, he has propagated a distinct school of thought among the design professionals who have graduated in the past 42 years.

“This is not a stylization of architecture that is visually and immediately identifiable, but a way of thinking about history, precedent, and the contextual complexities of architectural production that has inspired generations of architects and educators such as myself,” wrote Christian Dagg, AIA, head of the Auburn University School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, in a letter nominating Silvetti for the AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion.

Currently the Nelson Robinson, Jr. Professor of Architecture at Harvard, Silvetti leads design studios and delivers regular lectures on history, contemporary theory, and criticism. His groundbreaking 1977 essay “The Beauty of Shadows” provided a compelling argument for how a profession caught between postmodernism and deconstruction should proceed. Later works co-authored with Machado that expanded upon his arguments have greatly influenced his students as well as other schools of design nationwide. The list of deans and department chairs who were former students, colleagues, or employees of Silvetti is long and impressive.

“As chair of the architecture program at Harvard, his emphasis on design as a form of research, coupled with his expansion of the field of architecture to include other design practices, had a profound effect on the discipline at large—an influence that can still be felt today,” Mónica Ponce de León, dean and professor at Princeton University’s School of Architecture, wrote in a letter supporting Silvetti’s nomination. “Through conferences, symposia, and exhibitions, Silvetti brought allied disciplines in conversation with architecture—long before interdisciplinary became a catchphrase in academia.”

Since 1986 Silvetti has overseen a number of research programs, including an examination of Sicily’s urbanism and architecture that won a Progressive Architecture award. Other projects have explored the future of public space in the shifting metropolis of Buenos Aires and the future development of previously industrial Bilbao, Spain. He is a recipient of the Rome Prize, and since 1996 has served as a Pritzker Architecture Prize juror. In 2000, he was a juror for the former Mies van der Rohe Prize for Latin American Architecture.

Beyond academia, Silvetti’s work in association with Rodolfo Machado since 1974 and under different professional firms that they founded and led (presently MACHADO SILVETTI), has been widely celebrated. Run like a studio where all employees contribute ideas and everyone shares in the learning experience, the firm’s notable projects include work at many major Universities and Colleges in the U.S., (among them Dartmouth and Bowdoin Colleges, Princeton, Harvard, Rice, and Arizona State universities), abroad at the American University in Beirut and the Vietnamese and German University in Vietnam, as well as notable cultural and educational institutions such as the Getty Trust in the U.S. The firm received the First Award in Architecture from the American University of Arts and Letters in 1991 and numerous design awards and citations from AIA.

“After teaching for many years and participating in many conversations, he stands among a select group of peers,” wrote Machado in a letter supporting his partner’s nomination. “In fact there are only a few still fully engaged in teaching, who have witnessed and indeed participated in the wild swings of academic pedagogy—from the post-modern to the parametric to the current heterotopic panorama. Throughout all of it, Jorge has been committed to teaching the core canons of architecture while simultaneously supporting those innovating people and emerging projects that benefit the core and expand the reach of architecture.”

Jury

Chere R. LeClair, AIA, Chair, LeClair Architects, Bozeman, Montana

Don Keshika De Saram, Assoc. AIA, AIAS President, Washington DC

Donna Kacmar, FAIA, University of Houston, Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, Houston

Toshiko Mori, FAIA, Toshiko Mori Architect, PLLC, New York City

Nader Tehrani, Dean, The Cooper Union, Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, New York City

Image credits

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Please Touch

Have you ever succumbed to the insatiable desire to touch artifacts in a museum exhibit?  At Menokin, we understand this need and not only allow, but encourage visitors to gently touch or handle artifacts.

Holding an object in your hand connects you with the person that made it hundreds of years ago. What was moments ago just a nail, is now a time machine zooming you back to 1769 when blacksmiths pounded out nails for use in the construction of Menokin. The questions pop into your head…who made this nail?….was he free or enslaved?…how many nails did he make on the day that this nail was forged?…what other parts of the house did he create?

The nail is no longer an object. It is a catalyst for a story. It provides a point of reference for us to find relevance and connectedness to that story. And allows us to reflect on our experiences today in contrast to the day-to-day life of the maker of this nail.

We are compelled to ask, am I touching the nail, or is the nail touching me?

 

 

 

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