Lighthearted Days at the Art Institute of Chicago

Benita (McGinnis) McCormick
          (1889 – 1984)

Benita McGinnis experimenting with mirrors.  She captioned this  “Five ways to fun!”   Circa 1908 – 1910
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, known more simply as the “Art Institute,” sought to give its students “a firm foundation for the professional practice of drawing, painting, illustration, designing, modeling, and architecture.”  Its 1908 – 1909 Circular of Instruction noted, 

“The general plan of work is that students shall occupy themselves in severe practice, chiefly drawing from antique and life, during the forenoon; and in the afternoon may either continue these studies or devote themselves to the practice of still-life sketching, illustration, perspective, memory drawing, anatomy, composition, modeling, lectures, etc.

“Flying high”  Date unknown.

“. . . The students also have a society called the Art Students’ League of Chicago.  This organization plans numerous special activities, among which may be mentioned the plays, masques, pageants, and various dramatic undertakings, some of which have developed a high degree of educational value.  The social life of the school, especially in its artistic phases, is a distinct advantage to the student…”

Benita took part in a number of 
plays at the Art Institute.  Here
she plays a cat, circa 1908.
Balancing study, fun, and a social life came easily to my grand aunt, Benita McGinnis, who was an outgoing and lively young woman.  She took her studies seriously yet found great joy in art and artistic expression.  I think this came easily to her, not just because she was very talented but also because she viewed art and social interaction as inextricably and shamelessly bound.  From an early age, she made up her mind to experience the joy and beauty of life as fully as she could, so she could express her appreciation of those things in her creations. 
Here she is, doing just that, at the Art Institute.
Benita (left) with friend, shows her delightful sense
of humor here: “Illustration for the “Saturday
Evening Post” – the post is just behind us. 1908”


Copyright ©  2013  Linda Huesca Tully



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