Book Review: Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent”

Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste”

by Richard Bernstein, M.D., Rokeby Museum Trustee

“…Wilkerson pries open the lid on this country’s racism and exposes the underlying truth—that from the beginning, America has created a caste society, Whites on the top, those of African descent on the bottom.” 

Isabel Wilkerson’s 2010 work, The Warmth of Other Suns, was an extensively researched and beautifully narrated account of the Great Migration of 1915–1970, which saw nearly 6 million people of color escape the poverty and racial injustice of the South for the promise of better lives in the North only to encounter the same racism and limited opportunities, and sometimes the same overt brutality, in their new homes. Her book introduced many to the largest migration of modern times and a little remarked phenomenon of the twentieth century. 

In her latest book, Caste: The Origin of our Discontents, Wilkerson pries open the lid on this country’s racism and exposes the underlying truth—that from the beginning, America has created a caste society, Whites on the top, those of African descent on the bottom. This rigid structure has endured from seventeenth-century Virginia to the present, and it allows those in the dominant caste to deny racist tendencies while supporting a social structure that benefits them to the detriment of those of the lower caste.

Read More

Rokeby Museum Distance Drawing Course — Week 5: Self-Critique

Allison Gregory reading in Rachael Robinson's room

WEEK 1   |    WEEK 2   |    WEEK 3   |    WEEK 4   |    WEEK 5   |    WEEK 6

Inspired by Rachael Robinson Elmer (1878–1919) and taught by Courtney Clinton, Rokeby Artist in Residence

Hello Students! 

Allison Gregory here, Education and Interpretation Fellow at Rokeby Museum. So far, our distance drawing course has brought you an artist’s perspective on art history and drawing through the writing of Courtney Clinton, Ernest Knaufft, and, of course, Rachael Robinson Elmer. This week I would like to bring in a different perspective. 

Read More

Rokeby Museum Welcomes New Director

Lindsay Houpt-Varner

Deep into the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, Rokeby Museum embarked on a national search for a new director. Over ninety applications later, the search committee identified an exceptionally large pool of highly qualified candidates, eleven of whom we interviewed. Encompassing many Zoom interviews, some distanced presentations, and various quarantines, the process was lengthy but we were undaunted. Now we are thrilled to announce that Lindsay Houpt-Varner, PhD, will lead Rokeby as its first full-time director.

Read More

Together We Make a Difference

Catherine Brooks

by Catherine Brooks, Rokeby Museum Director

It was about three years ago to the day when I sat at a picnic table with other Rokeby board members discussing our next move. Museum director Jane Williamson had announced her wish to retire, but our first round of interviews had not produced a candidate able to accept our offer. 

Parallel to this, and unrelated, I was alarmed and overwhelmed by what I saw and read of increased division and discourse in the public arena. Differences of opinion in policy and politics is what democracy is all about, but what was becoming clear was that the pitched voices 1. weren’t listening to one another, and 2. represented just the tip of an unstable iceberg. Beneath the waterline, I feared a monolith built on failures in education, opportunity, and engagement.

Read More

Rokeby Museum Distance Drawing Course — Week 4: From Life

WEEK 1   |    WEEK 2   |    WEEK 3   |    WEEK 4   |    WEEK 5   |    WEEK 6

Inspired by Rachael Robinson Elmer (1878–1919) and taught by Courtney Clinton, Rokeby Artist in Residence

Dear Student,

Courtney Clinton here, Artist in Residence at Rokeby Museum. I’m writing to you from a blanket fort that I built especially for this lesson! 

The experience of art school is especially hard to translate into online learning and I can imagine the disappointment artists must be feeling this September. In this week’s lesson my aim is to build on our ongoing discussion around self directed learning and hopefully provide a little optimism. 

Thanks to the support of Allison Gregory, Education and Interpretation Fellow, I have been exploring the museum’s collection of art by the 19th century illustrator, Rachael Robinson Elmer (1878–1919). I am using this material to research and activate the letters from a historic correspondence drawing course that Rachael took as a teenager.  

This week we are going to do our first self-portrait! Building on our Copying Lesson, I will show you how a drawing by a favorite artist can play the role of your teacher and guide you in your drawing process. 

I’m going to show you how to draw a self portrait in profile using a wacky two mirror set up. If you prefer to keep the set up simple you can also do a three-quarter self-portrait (which only requires one mirror). Both versions are equally valuable exercises, but by showing you the more complicated profile version, I hope to prove that there are no limits to what we can accomplish on our own with a little courage.  

Read More
X
Rokeby Museum’s Visitor Center and Historic Farm Buildings are open for the season.