Sunday, March 14, 2021

Review of "Prairie Memories: An 1891 Iowa Album in Painting and Verse," by Izanna L. Chamberlain

 Review of

Prairie Memories: An 1891 Iowa Album in Painting and Verse, by Izanna L. Chamberlain ISBN 0945213042

Five out of five stars

Paintings by an Iowa woman of the nineteenth century

 Iowa became a state in 1846 and Izanna Chamberlain was born in 1854. She grew up on a farm in Linn County Iowa on the banks of Otter Creek. Her father died when she was three, but her mother Rachel managed to keep the farm and raise her six children. This book is a brief history of Izanna’s life as well as a series of her paintings of what she witnessed.

 This book was published in 1891, when Izanna was 37. At the urging of her brother, she attended Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa where she took classes in art.  She enrolled at Cornell when she was 16, so it is interesting to note that Cornell accepted women at that time. The paintings show rural scenes that I, as someone that grew up in Iowa, can relate to. In fact, my grandmother lived in Toddville, Iowa and Otter Creek ran less than a half-mile of her residence. My uncles, friends and I would swim in the creek in the summer.

 Therefore, with the exception of the few images that have period dating aspects, these images were a memory for me as well. They are simple yet elegant, showing rural Iowa for what it was and is to those that take the time to look at it.

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