Monthly Archives: February 2017

Norm “Nomzee” Maxwell: Great Paintings

Laurie says:

No life is precious unless all life is precious (Trayvon Martin)

I saw this exhibition a few days ago in the Luna Rienne in my neighborhood at Luna Rienne . It’s called “Made in the Ghetto”. It’s been a long time since I saw unfamiliar work that moved me this much. The pictures are mostly paintings and of some size. Seeing them on the screen will not do more then give an impression of the work. The textures and contrasts in the art are extraordinarily vivid and complex and need to be seen in the originals. Unfortunately I saw the show almost at the end. It’s been extended thru this Saturday. If you can see it in the Mission in San Francisco in this short time do. There’s an excellent selection of his work and also a video on the Luna Rienne site that gives a fuller perspective on the work.


After having a varied and successful career in multiple fields and mediums. he opened his own gallery in LA. He sold and exhibited his work worldwide.

Norm Maxwell: Made In The Ghetto (1969-2016) honors the life and body of work of the recently-deceased urban contemporary artist and long-time Luna Rienne Gallery collaborator.

Born in Philadelphia, PA on January 25, 1969, Maxwell and his two brothers had a rough upbringing in a broken home. He was fully susceptible to and influenced by street life, finding his expression in writing graffiti as “Ice”. His mother’s artistic inclinations, frequent visits to the Philadelphia Museum Of Art, and encouragement from teachers led him to pursue an academic degree in art…


Maxwell was a prolific artist whose skills and subject matter spanned the extremes of painting. From acrylic spray to oil brush, street life to ancient myth, and urban strife to family life, Maxwell addressed both the evil and beauty of humanity – a duality that he personally struggled with during his short and magnificent life. He is survived by his wife and two children.


Norm “Nomzee” Maxwell was a visual artist whose education came via the streets (Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles) and the Hussian School Of Art. His combination of urban upbringing and fine art training resulted stylistically in an esoteric combination of color, light, and subject matter. Culturally, Maxwell was a quintessential urban contemporary artist, with a portfolio that included graffiti, street wear design, club flyer and album art, graphic design, set design, and fine art painting. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 47.

I’m going to go back again to see the work. There is so much there it requires multiple viewings.

Four African American Women: Nineteenth Century Inventors


In 1888, in Chicago, Sarah Goode applied for and was granted a patent. Goode had just conceptualized what she called the “cabinet-bed

Laurie Says:

These four Black women inventors reimagined the technology of the home: By designating the realm of technology as ‘male,’ we overlook key inventions that took place in the domestic sphere.

Leila McNeill’s fascinating article in Smithsonian Magazine discusses  African American women inventors in the domestic sphere in the latter part of the 19th century. Their accomplishments against overwhelming odds are rarely noted in part because inventions that improve domestic life are rarely recognized as important. And obviously, the endemic racism of the 19th century would never recognize that these women could have valuable ideas.

McNeill makes a point of saying that these are the only four African-American women inventors of this time period that we can identify, though there were certainly more. Following Goode, Mariam Benjamin invented the “gong-signal chair,” whose occupants could signal when service was needed. Benjamin thought about it for invalids, but even more for legislators in session. Sarah Boone is responsible for the iconic curve in the ironing board, making it more useful for sleeves and curved waists. And Ellen Elgin invented a widely successful clothes wringer, but made no money off it because she sold the patent rights.

Aside from her information about these individual women, McNeill examines the overall situation they faced:

Disenfranchised groups often participated in science and technology outside of institutions. For women, that place was the home. Yet although we utilize its many tools and amenities to make our lives easier and more comfortable, the home is not typically regarded as a hotbed of technological advancement. It lies outside our current understanding of technological change—and so, in turn, do women, like Goode, Benjamin, Boone, and Elgin, who sparked that change.

When I asked historian of technology Ruth Schwartz Cowan why domestic technology is not typically recognized as technology proper, she gave two main reasons. First, “[t]he definition of what technology is has shrunk so much in the last 20 years,” she says. Many of us conceptualize technology through a modern—and limited—framework of automation, computerization, and digitization. So when we look to the past, we highlight the inventions that appear to have led to where we are today—which forces us to overlook much of the domestic technology that has made our everyday living more efficient.

The second reason, Cowan says, is that “we usually associate technology with males, which is just false.” For over a century, the domestic sphere has been coded as female, the domain of women, while science, engineering, and the workplace at large has been seen as the realm of men. These associations persist even today, undermining the inventive work that women have done in the domestic sphere. Goode, Benjamin, Boone and Elgin were not associated with any university or institution. Yet they invented new technology based on what they knew through their lived experiences, making domestic labor easier and more efficient.

One can only guess how many other African American women inventors are lost to history because of restricted education possibilities and multiple forms of discrimination, we may never know who they are. This does not mean, however, that women of color were not there—learning, inventing, shaping the places in which we have lived. Discrimination kept the world from recognizing them during their lifetimes, and the narrow framework by which we define technology keeps them hidden from us now. 

There’s lots of fascinating information about these 4 women and their inventions in the article. Read the whole article!