Illustrator and author Maira Kalman has long been a personal hero of mine. She visited The Factory a couple of years ago, along with Rosanne Cash and Gael Towey, for a two-day sewing workshop and some adventure. It was then that I learned Maira is not only a talented illustrator, but also an avid embroidery expert. I love everything she creates (but especially her drawings and unique storytelling perspective), and am happy to call her my friend.
In her book And the Pursuit of Happiness, Maira explores American democracy and its workings. Originally published as a 12-part online series for the New York Times, this complete bound volume tells the colorfully illustrated and hand-lettered history of America.
The year-long quest for democracy began in January 2008, and the first chapter tells the story of the inauguration of President Obama:
And we mortals, driving down to Washington, passing white mountains and black mountains of unidentified industrial stuff, listen to Lorraine Hunt Lieberson sing words from a Bach cantata.
“Now is the time of grace.”
The heart is racing. And all I can say is Hallelujah.
Each chapter further explores a part of American history, from George Washington to Jell-o molds, from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to bobby pins, and inquires as to what Thomas Jefferson really meant when he wrote “…and the pursuit of happiness” those many years ago.
P.S. Today is Read Across America Day. I plan on spending some extra time tonight reading to Maggie…she loves Maira’s books as much as I do.
Her work is amazing. My favorite is THE PRINCIPLES OF UNCERTAINTY —
Her book on Lincoln is excellent, and I just used it with my students during a discussion of Presidents’ Day. Her work is so engaging!