Adele works in the Circulation department here at Langsdale. Having started here not too long ago, Adele has stayed close to her old place of employement, the Decker Library at MICA, only a few steps away from UB’s campus and the Langsdale Library.
Adele is the last staff member this summer to participate in the “Getting to Know U” series of display cases and materials recommended by our staff. We asked Adele some questions to help everyone get to know her better.
Adele is a newlywed, and a voracious collector. Her favorite must be her Pyrex collection. For this display, Adele has shared her collection of hankies, napkins and table cloths designed by Tammis Keefe.
Why did you start collecting? How long have you collected? Which is your favorite?
“I am fascinated by graphics and textile design (even though I don’t sew), particularly vintage graphics. I’m not sure how I started noticing Tammis Keefe items except I was probably searching for kitty-themed tea towels, and found one designed by TK. The graphic was so charming that I started seeking her stuff out. She’s interesting to me because she was only active and prolific in textile design for a short time (during the “mid century” boom in design), but I think she was really a hard act to follow. Unfortunately Keefe’s career was cut short by fate (like my other fave creative genius, writer Flannery O’Connor.) Her designs are so witty—like showing drunken elephants dancing on cocktail napkins, or depicting pigs and cows on a BBQ-themed tablecloth. In my view, when you’re creative AND funny, you’ve got it all in terms of being an artist.
My favorite pieces are my kitty tea towel, my BBQ tea towel (where a pig and cow have little lines drawn on them highlighting their anatomy as cuts of meat.) My top favorite hanky I gave away. It had little raccoons on it, wearing bandit masks; they were carrying sacks of money. It was so cute. Anyway, I brought it with me to my father’s funeral, and my sister started to weep when we were at the gravesite, so I slipped her my hanky. She hasn’t given it back yet— dang!”
What story does your family always tell about you?
“I’m the youngest in my family by far, so my brother and sisters have a lot of dirt on me.
Story 1: I don’t know how funny this is. To me, it’s just weird. Anyway, I’m told that I loudly declared I wanted to be a nun at the dinner table when I was in 2nd grade. My siblings snickered, and my father shot them a dirty look. Dad was probably remembering that Sunday in my infancy when a bunch of nuns asked if they could “borrow” me for a few minutes. For some reason, my father consented. The nuns all gathered ‘round and prayed over me—they needed an infant for some “offering.” This ritual had to do with what Catholics call the Sacrament of Vocation. The hope is that if they pray over the infant, the baby—or some baby somewhere—will someday become a nun like them. My father was overjoyed that this had happened to me. I was a teenager by the time he confided this incident. No slur on Catholic nuns, but I found it very unsettling. Also, it didn’t take. Oh, well. Never say never.
Story 2: Another sister recalls that as a toddler I locked her and my mother in the basement when they were surprised by huge black snake while doing laundry. Honestly, what’s the big deal? I didn’t want the snake to come upstairs. Besides, they wouldn’t stop screaming.”
What was your favorite food when you were a child?
“A hamburger. So boring, right? My mom HATED packing lunches because I didn’t really like anything but tuna fish or cheese and crackers. Once in a blue moon, I’d open my Holly Hobby lunch box, and she would have packed a cold hamburger as a treat.”
What is one of your favorite quotes?
“Drinking is the cause of—and solution to—all of life’s problems.” -Homer Simpson
If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?
“Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, no question. Not that I’m really into Disney stuff, but I love my Maleficent costume so much that I wish I could have worn it to my wedding! It’s completely BADASS.”
If you could paint a picture of any scenery you’ve seen before, what would you paint?
“I love the photorealist streetscapes of painter Richard Estes. If I had his ability and art smarts, I would definitely paint urban scenery. His work makes everything seem so hyper-real and detailed. You realize that your perspective on street scenes is selective—you seldom notice telephone wires, trash in the gutter, discarded gum darkened and hardened in splats on the sidewalk. But it’s all there.”
And finally, Adele has recommended some library materials to be added to the the display, we asked Adele to tell us a little about her choices.
‘I like trash! No, really…I do. I think the theme that runs through what I like to read and watch is that there’s an exploitation aspect to it. For instance, in Sayo Masuda’s Autobiography of a Geisha, the author reveals that her life as a low-level geisha at a Japanese spa is tantamount to sexual slavery. Masuda was sold into this life by her impoverished family, and the worst part is that she’s pretty bad at what she does. Eventually she loses ‘sponsors’ in her work as concubine, and has to make her own way—a nearly insurmountable task given her lowly social status. That Masuda survives on her own terms and still manages to find joy somehow in her life is amazing to me. So, really, you can learn a lot from trash—or at least what the ratings board would call ‘adult situations’. “
Check out Adele’s list of recommended items here: