My first piece for Curbed went up today--a look at Marion Mahony Griffin, an early American architect whose illustrations played a big part in launching the career and legend of Frank Lloyd Wright, who was born 150 years ago this week.
There are a lot of firsts in this piece for me -- I do not have a background in architecture, plus I've never done a profile like this, much less of a deceased person. It was awesome and I hope to write more of these and I'm grateful it came my way. I love history and biography, and I minored in art history in college, so it was a pleasure to actually work on an assignment like this instead of just being a reader.
My friend Alissa Walker recommended me for this piece due to my proximity to Northwestern's Block Museum, which houses a lot of Marion's drawings, and as I worked on it it felt like it was meant to be. Turns out that one of the country's experts on MMG, David Van Zanten, is the dad of an old friend of mine from Evanston. Marion designed All Soul's Church in Evanston (long since demolished) which lived next to my old preschool. The home where she spent her final years and the school where she painted a mural are both on the way to James' daycare.
My colleague/pal Jen Miller says that freelancing is sometimes just "waitressing" but this piece was one of those pleasures that makes it all worthwhile. I loved getting to know Marion, I enjoyed soaking up the appreciation her experts have for her, and it was a worthwhile challenge to spread my wings and try something new style-wise. I hope this piece introduces more people to MMG and that it maybe yields to more experiences of digging into the lives of other worthy people.
Below is a slideshow of a few snaps I took while working on this piece, of Marion's work and the beach named in her honor. These don't do her justice at all so I hope you click over to the story and see more of Marion's illustrations in their full glory.