Carl Milles Gems from the Cutting Room Floor

Cameras started rolling Monday for the Center’s new film celebrating Swedish American sculptor Carl Milles, premiering May 22nd at A Global House Party at Cranbrook and Millesgården. Centering on materials in the Archives, the day’s shoot featured handwritten correspondence, photographs, sketches, scrapbooks, and oral history recordings that help illuminate the story of the man behind the many iconic sculptures dotting Cranbrook’s campus.

The film production crew captures closeups of materials featured in the film.

In preparation for the day, I mined several collections in the Archives that document Milles’ twenty years as artist-in-residence at Cranbrook and his work in America during that time. In the process, I made a few delightful discoveries. While most of these treasures were expertly captured by the film production crew (Elkhorn Entertainment), there were a few that just could not be accommodated in Associate Curator Kevin Adkisson’s masterful, but already dense script.

One of these items is a notebook from the Nancy Leitch Papers. A student of Milles’ in the early 1940s, Leitch, like many of Milles’ students, became friends with both him and his wife Olga while at Cranbrook. The brief diary-like entries in Leitch’s pocket-sized book date from 1945, and are an intimate glimpse of daily activities, remembrances, and artist philosophies recounted from shared experiences and conversations with Carl and Olga. A loose paper tucked inside and titled “Carl” is a bonus, containing hasty notes recording his birthday, recommendations of where to visit in Italy (Café Greco in Rome, the cathedral in Orvieto), and words of wisdom, such as, “It is better to be an artist even though you are poor.”

Part of an entry made by Nancy Leitch in her notebook. Courtesy of Cranbrook Archives.
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Dear Diary: Women in Their Own Words

“When women tell their life stories in their own words, a distinct enthusiasm, engagement and affirmation emerges . . . these are the stories in which women are the central actors, even if their stories are camouflaged by modesty and disclaimers.” So writes Judy Nolte Lensink in Perspectives on Women’s Archives. One of the most common ways in which women tell their life stories is through their personal diaries. The stories can range from day-to-day events, personal reflections, or comments about the world at large. Nearly every archive has diaries in its collection, and ours is no exception. Below are a few examples of the range of journals found in the Cranbrook Archives.

Harriet Messinger Scripps, circa 1872. Cranbrook Archives.

Harriet Messinger Scripps, circa 1872. Cranbrook Archives.

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