Maira Kalman and the American Dream

[While I sit and try to prepare something worthy of my Hunger Games-induced haze,] I thought I’d direct you to someone else who also never ceases to fill me with awe: Maira Kalman.

[When not completely absorbed in the world of Katniss/Peeta/Gale,] I’ve been thinking all week about my trip to Ellis Island last weekend. How can I visually describe how that slice of history makes me feel, how it reflects on my views of immigration, diversity and the United States today?

Then, as I discovered, Maira’s already done it.

Maira Kalman already ranks top on my list for her iconic picture book about September 11th, Fireboat. And all of her entries from her 2009 New York Times blog, “And The Pursuit Of Happiness,” are fantastic takes on American history.  One after another is a delightful collage of hand-written narrative, painting and photography.  But her August entry of last year, “I Lift My Lamp Beside The Golden Door“, says everything I couldn’t express:

a celebration of diversity, past and present . . .

concern and a touch of cynicism at the big issues, but trust in the good nature of the American people as individuals . . .

a reminder never to forget that we will always be a country of immigrants . . .

and a sense of wonder and pride at what makes our country so great.

I particularly love this:

And this:

Ultimately, the message is simple and true:


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