For this semester’s project, I want to expand what I began last semester, when I created a digital gallery of artwork by a soldier who had died during the Normandy Campaign in 1944. That project focused on giving the artwork of the soldier, Gordon Mannix, a platform. Now, I’d like to delve into Gordon’s biography more. While the biography produced by a fellow Normandy scholar from the Class of 2013 provides all the important dates and locations featured in Gordon’s cursory bio I put on the website, I want to answer the deeper questions.
How did Gordon Mannix, a boy who lived in the same small town in Connecticut for most of his life, become interested in international inspirations for his fashion sketches?
How did Gordon allow his art to flourish beyond the classroom?
What was it really like when Gordon was growing up? Did the environment of 1930’s-1940’s Plainville, Conn., help or hinder his maturation as an artist?
For this project, I will continue using mainly Omeka. The website needs tweaking to become more user-friendly (links in a visible place, not maddeningly small font), so that needs to be the first focus. To present the new information in an engaging way, I was thinking of creating a digital map tracing the places Gordon had lived, as he wasn’t born in Plainville and didn’t die there, of course. This map would go alongside my analysis of how Gordon came to be such a talented artist, whether his environment played a significant role beyond his role talent. I also want to provide more in-depth analyses of Gordon’s artwork, more similar to the descriptive plates one would see in a museum. So that part isn’t just text-heavy, I might break down a few special pieces of Gordon’s fashion sketches–by far the area that he was most prolific and invested in–showing how a design reflects either a specific time period or region. That would make the interaction online more dynamic, as I’m trying to provide something besides descriptive text, which, however important it is, is not exactly unique to the online medium.
My target audiences are art enthusiasts and residents of Plainville, Conn., who are interested in the town’s history. These groups already have an invested interest in one aspect of Gordon’s exhibit–either the art or the history–and are therefore easier to reel in than someone who has interest in neither subject. However, just because the subject might interest these groups doesn’t mean they’ll just come automatically. That’s why this project focuses on providing info about Gordon as a Plainville citizen and Gordon’s artwork on its own. Actually, as a recent comment on this blog demonstrated, another group worth targeting is those who are interested in the soldiers buried in the Normandy American Cemetery, whether just by doing light research as citizen historians interested in World War II or by laying flowers on the graves of the soldiers, as many French citizens continue to do to this day. It’s hard to tie in the Normandy aspect to Gordon’s art, considering the artwork I have predates his experience in the war, but I’ll be sure to make it even clearer that he was a soldier and is buried in Normandy, at least on the front page.