November 13, 2010 through January 31, 2011 in the Museum Library
(open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, from 1 to 4 p.m.)
“I guess that my philosophical approach to life is that I am fascinated with the human individual and his complicated environment. . . ”
—Norman Rockwell, 1967
Norman Rockwell’s first work for Look magazine was published in early 1964. A dramatic two-page spread of a young girl desegregating an all-white school, The Problem We All Live With acknowledged the ten years that had passed since the United States Supreme Court outlawed segregation in public schools. Rockwell drew inspiration from the experience of Ruby Bridges, whose November 14, 1960 entrance into the Williams Frantz Public School was met with racist jeers and picket signs. His poignant piece was a departure from the idealized narratives he had become known for, and it was only his first of many illustrations motivated by real-world concerns.
An installation in the Museum Library focuses on The Problem We All Live With through Rockwell’s preliminary art, reference photographs, and reactionary letters from the public (the published painting is currently on view at the North Carolina Museum of Art as part of our traveling exhibition, American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell).