The Art of the Prairie Glass House

Richard Greenberg (1941-2009), Abraham Lincoln, oil painting based on the last photograph taken before his assassination. We purchased this work from the Cinema Gallery in Urbana just after we moved to Champaign in 2006 . Lincoln's face spoke to us, expressing the accumulated pain of the Civil War.

Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis, Fallen Log Chandelier, 2009.

Unknown Artist, Mary with Child, c.1920s. When Mary's family left Greece for Australia in 1953, they left the house her great grandmother complete with furniture, farming implements, and wine and all barrels. They expected to be back soon, but they were not. When we went back to Greece for the first time in 1981, nearly everything had gone—except this icon, a lithographic print of no particular value, which we found in the icon box in the corner of the main downstairs room. We salvaged and framed what had not been eaten by mice and moths in the intervening decades.

Unknown Artist, Beaded Cow, Soweto, South Africa, 2007.

Sideboard, Rutherglen, Australia, c.1900. Roughly made by a local craftsman in Murray Valley pine, a native Australian timber. Birthday gift for Mary, 1987.

Unknown Photographer, The Day the Threshing Machine Came, 1952. This photo was taken on the aloni, the village common, on the day a threshing machine first came to Mary's village, Ambelos. Mary is the little girl being held by her father in the back row. Her mother is in the floral dress in the front row, holding Mary’s sister, Adriana. To the right of the picture, is the house we still have in the village, where Mary and Adriana were born. A mule grazes. Before the coming of the machine, the mules used to be harnessed on the aloni, to thresh the wheat with their hooves, walking around in circles until the grain was ready to be winnowed from the chaff. The machine in this picture brought an end to that. Mary’s father was the mayor of the village, and he had organized the building of a road to our house. Before that, there was only a narrow walking track which meant the threshing machine could now make it through.

Unknown Photographer, School Photo, Aliceton NSW Australia, 1896. Bill's grandfather, Stanley John Muston, is the second from the left in the back row. Stanley’s father, Charles, ran the local sawmill at Aliceton (now Karuah, near Port Stephens, NSW), on the traditional lands of the Worimi people. The rough school building was made with timber from the mill. Here, black and white stand together, including that striking Aboriginal boy on the left of the picture, hand proudly in his waistcoat pocket, but with no shoes. Within a decade, White Australia had enforced strict segregation and the school had been forced to close.

Chest, Anno 1779, or so it says, and judging by the handmade nails and ironwork, were are inclined to believe it. Purchased 2010.

Phillip Kalantzis-Cope, Untitled, 1999.

Bill Cope, Ambelos Village Wildflowers, 2004.

Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis, Gypsy China Chairs, 2010. This is an oil painting of a photo taken in Greece by Cope and repainted by a Chinese artist whose regular job is to make copies of Leonardos, Monets and van Goghs. These plastic chairs are everywhere in Greece, so much so that they have become a modern symbol of the country. They are sold by Roma (gypsies) from the backs of trucks. The image frame is made of some old plaster moldings found in a junk store in Champaign. This is a multimodal, transcultural story that speaks to the work we have done in their research on Roma education in Greece. For a longer version of the story of this work, visit our New Learning community in CGScholar.

Bill Cope, Footnote to Gypsy China Chairs, photograph, 2009.