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Milton Mural

Under an Equal Sky: Baldwin and Guggisberg at Canterbury Cathedral

Under an Equal Sky: Baldwin and Guggisberg at Canterbury Cathedral

One hundred elegant, clear glass vessels—amphorae—are suspended from the towering nave of the Canterbury Cathedral, where together they form the shape of a visionary ship, flowing elegantly from stern to prow. The Boat of Remembrance is one of 10 works in an exhibition created by Philip Baldwin ’66 and his wife, Monica Guggisberg.

Each year, Canterbury Cathedral memorializes the murder, in 1170, of its sainted archbishop, Thomas Becket. Becket’s death transformed the Cathedral into a focus of pilgrimage for people worldwide. From May 6, 2018, through January 6, 2019, Philip and Monica’s exhibition, “Under an Equal Sky,” celebrated not only the 848 years since the archbishop’s death, but also the 100 years since the armistice of 1918. Philip and Monica are glassblowers who learned their craft in Sweden and have worked as a team since 1980, in Sweden, Switzerland, France and now rural Wales. Their installation embraces a scope of ideas as relevant today as in the 12th century. It recognizes our endemic experience with warfare and its consequences, and acknowledges the mighty flow of human migration, the pilgrimage to escape violence or environmental disasters, the homelessness of millions of migrants and refugees, so many of them children.

The artists use the “repeating simple forms of boats, amphorae and empty vessels, symbols found across different cultures,” the exhibition catalogue notes, to reckon with some of the most difficult issues of our time while offering aspiration for positive outcomes. Amphorae have carried goods by ship since ancient times, and also served as funeral urns; they symbolize the human journey. And in Christianity, the boat draws on the idea of the Church as a sanctuary. The stunning shapes, textures and colors of empty vessels throughout the exhibition reflect the beautiful diversity among humans, all of us navigating a journey.

The proposition underlying “Under an Equal Sky” is that “we are all bound together,” the artists have written, “that our differences enrich one another’s lives, that community matters. The rising inequality between people concerns us all. We may be born citizens of nation states but we are citizens of the world, too.

“In choosing this title, we wished to convey the idea that our planet is a unitary living organism whose sky is without prejudice. Living as we do under this generous light equally dispersed throughout our world, we are unavoidably confronted by the bleak contrast it presents—the vast swaths of territory blighted and under siege and the ever-increasing flow of migrants and refugees whose plight this Cathedral community wishes to highlight, as it always has. Their fates, and frankly, ours too, lie increasingly in the balance. There must be a better way . . . . The intent of our exhibition is that people will seek and find the good and the positive.”

The exhibition leads viewers throughout the Cathedral, where they will discover Philip and Monica’s beautiful and thought-provoking pieces, crafted of exquisite materials, located simply in meaningful sections of the church. The People’s Wall, located where the exhibition concludes, rejects our current political concept of a wall. Instead, a transparent glass “wall of inclusion,” contains a representation, in colorful, multishaped vessels, of displaced people from around the globe, thriving in the most creative of communities. “This is our paean to a better future,” write Philip and Monica.

Frankie Shaw ’00   Actress and Showrunner, SMILF

Frankie Shaw ’00
Actress and Showrunner, SMILF

Frankie Shaw was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series Musical or Comedy, and her show SMILF was nominated for Best Television Series Musical or Comedy. She created the Showtime comedy series, which is based on the 2015 short film of the same name which she wrote, directed and starred in and which won the Short Film Jury Prize for Fiction at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Her struggles to work as an actor and be a single mother are the loose inspiration for SMILF. She serves as the series’ showrunner and, true to her feminist roots, each episode is directed by a woman.

In the show, her character, Bridgette Bird, is a smart, scrappy, young single mom trying to navigate life in South Boston with an extremely unconventional family. She struggles to make ends meet, which leads her to impulsive and at times immature decisions. Above all, Bridgette wants to make a better life for her son. SMILF takes on motherhood, co-parenting, and female sexuality through a raw and unfiltered lens.

Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle ’55
Author, Aging with Wisdom

Drawing on her own experiences as well as stories and studies about aging from other cultures, Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle explores the ways readers can nourish their inner lives and spirit even as their bodies age and faculties diminish. She offers guidelines in seven areas for being attentive to the gifts that grow more valuable with age: spiritual orientation, practice of silence, practice of mindfulness, practice of stopping, finding the sacred in the commonplace, meditation, and the practice of gratitude. She also shares the stories of six “wayshowers,” individuals whose stories illustrate aging with compassion. Olivia’s book invites inspiring reflections on finding beauty in aging, facing death with dignity, and rejoicing in earthly blessings.

Samuel Harrington ’69, MD
Author, At Peace: Choosing a Good Death After a Long Life

Most people say they would like to die quietly at home. But aggressive medical advice, coupled with an unrealistic sense of invincibility or overconfidence in our health care system, results in the majority of elderly patients dying in institutions. Many undergo painful procedures instead of the more peaceful death they deserve. At Peace outlines active and passive steps that older patients and their health care proxies can take to ensure loved ones live their last days comfortably at home and/or in hospice when further aggressive care is inappropriate.

Informed by more than 30 years of clinical practice along with Dr. Samuel Harrington’s own experience with the aging and deaths of his parents, he describes the terminal patterns of the six most common chronic diseases; how to recognize a terminal diagnosis even when the doctor is not clear about it; how to have the hard conversation about end-of-life wishes; how to minimize painful treatments; when to seek hospice care; and how to deal with dementia and other special issues.

Beka Sturges ’90
Landscape Architect, The Clark Art Institute

The December 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine featured a 26-page spread on a project Beka Sturges completed at the Clark Art Institute, an art museum and research center in Williamstown, Massachusetts. An award-winning building expansion led to an opportunity for a new landscape design for the museum’s 140-acre site. Beka, an associate principal of Reed Hilderbrand, served as project landscape architect and manager for the project. Beka leads the firm’s office in New Haven. Always working to achieve spatial power by shaping the land, she aims to demonstrate the cultural and environmental value of landscape. Since opening the office in New Haven, she has also led projects for Yale and Brown Universities. According to the article, Beka “has made a study of Japanese architecture and culture, [and] likens it to the ‘hide and reveal’ of traditional Japanese design, which is incorporated into the site design and architecture at the Clark.”

Linda Carrick Thomas ’79
Author, Polonium in the Playhouse: The Manhattan Project’s Secret Chemistry Work in Dayton, Ohio

At the height of the race to build an atomic bomb, an indoor tennis court in one of the Midwest’s most affluent residential neighborhoods became a secret Manhattan Project laboratory. Polonium in the Playhouse presents the intriguing story of how this most unlikely site in Dayton became one of the most classified portions of the Manhattan Project.

Weaving Manhattan Project history with the life and work of the scientist, industrial leader and singing showman Charles Allen Thomas, Polonium in the Playhouse offers a fascinating look at the vast and complicated program that changed world history and introduces the men and women who raced against time to build the initiator for the bomb.

Amy Kurzweil ’05
Illustrator, Flying Couch: A Graphic Memoir

Flying Couch: A Graphic Memoir, Amy Kurzweil’s debut, tells the stories of three unforgettable women. Amy weaves her own coming of age as a young Jewish artist into the narrative of her mother, a psychologist, and Bubbe, her grandmother, a World War II survivor who escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto by disguising herself as a gentile. Captivated by Bubbe’s story, Amy turns to her sketchbooks, teaching herself to draw as a way to cope with what she discovers. Entwining the voices and histories of these three wise, hilarious, and very different women, Amy creates a portrait not only of what it means to be part of a family, but also of how each generation bears the imprint of the past.

A retelling of the inherited Holocaust narrative now two generations removed, Flying Couch uses Bubbe’s real testimony to investigate the legacy of trauma, the magic of family stories, and the meaning of home. With her playful, idiosyncratic sensibility, Amy traces the way our memories and our families shape who we become.

WHY WE NEED JOURNALISTS

Publishing stories: researching, interviewing, analyzing, reporting and responding—is challenging and in some cases, dangerous. Has the profession been affected by the wave of invectives, the efforts to sow mistrust, the drive to discredit journalists’ work? What seems difficult and what is rewarding about reporting on the world? Journalists are critical agents in helping us develop the awareness and the acuity to understand our world and to inform our choices.