Page 20 - Shared Vision

Basic HTML Version

8
We had more relationships with those outside the art
department than in it, although we were there for the first
couple of years.
AG: I’m convinced that a university in a small town is
the best environment for interaction between faculty and
students—none of the distractions of a big city. Was that
your experience?
HLC: Yes. We were stimulated by the university. Here was
this “crazy guy” Cohen, who brought in guest speakers
like B. F. Skinner, which got the psychology department
up in arms. And there were other big names. Bucky was a
draw, as was Felix Candela from Mexico and John McHale
from England, and Charles Eames. Plus, we had very good
students. The Morrises loved us. In Design, we pushed the
importance of learning how to state a problem. You see,
the Institute of Design didn’t have humanities except for
music. The university here was much more multifaceted.
Right away, there was lots of talk about me and the
mystique of design. Many were against us. And of course
other department heads and faculty were jealous of my
close friendship with Morris, plus the newspaper coverage
that Design was always getting. We played cards with
the Shryocks, and I went fishing with Delyte W. Morris.
Sometimes it was hard to remember who had an idea
first. President Morris and I flew off together in SIU’s twin
engine Beechcraft for many meetings up north. Because
AG: Mary, how did you feel about moving?
MC: I hated leaving Chicago. It was an exciting
city. I cried all the way to Carbondale. I grew up in
a conservative Indiana town. But SIU was a great
opportunity for Harold. We had a one-year-old newborn
and a three-year-old. As soon as we were settled, I did
free tutoring with children. I took a class with the potter
Carleton Ball, who was in the art department. And when
Bucky came to town, he stayed with us, and in fact lived
with us until his dome was built in April of 1960. He and
Anne moved into the dome later. I edited two of Bucky’s
books. We were very close to the Morrises. Dorothy
Morris always donned white gloves for social occasions.
But our neighbors, on the edge of town, were not
university people. The bigotry I saw pushed old buttons. I
went to graduate school in the English department.
HLC: SIU had a good theatre department, Mordecai
Gorelick (Brecht Theater), and a good music school. And I
had the design majors take psychology under Brooklynite
Dr. Israel Goldiamond, who worked with handicapped
children. We were friends with George Kimball
Plochmann of the philosophy department. We also had
ties with the anthropology and music departments.
Our neighbors must have thought we were weird. At one
point our daughter buried our old cat, then unearthed
it and wired the bones together at the SIU Museum.
Harold Cohen with Burnett Shryock
(Photo by Ben Gelman)
Harold Cohen and parents in New York, 1945