Proceed And Be Bold!

Proceed And Be Bold! Rural Studio, Samuel

Proceed and be Bold! Poster

This print, by York Show Prints in York, AL was hanging in the office at Annie Mae’s Place (Burkville, AL) when we visited this weekend for the annual Okra Festival.

I had heard of York Show Prints before, as they’ve (or maybe more correctly, he’s) been represented at Kentuck Festival of the Arts before. York is run by Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. and the business doesn’t have a phone…so I’ll have to write him a letter (York Show Print, P.O. Box 154, York, Alabama, 36925) about getting a copy of this “proceed and be bold” print.

((Other really neat show print houses include Nashville’s ultra-famous Hatch Show Print and (I especially like) Yee-Haw Industries of Knoxville.))

“Proceed and Be Bold!” is a catchphrase used by the incredibly talented Samuel “Sambo” Mockbee, cofounder of Auburn’s Rural Studio (and winner in 2000 of a MacArthur ‘genius’ grant, among other awards).

The Rural Studio was developed within the Auburn School of Architecture with intent to get students out of the classroom and in to hands-on work with members of a community that would actually be utilizing their work. In the past, the students’ hands-on experience consisted of them building temporary works…a beam or truss, which would later be torn down. D.K. Ruth, who hired Mockbee at Auburn, discussed with Mockbee that one could take such materials and (rather than a temporary exercise) they could “build something substantial”. It was less pre-conceived notions of what architecture is – be it for glass skyscrapers or McMansions – and more noble architecture of decency for poor people – beautiful whether built with carpet squares, car windshields, or tires. Mockbee died December 30, 2001 but left behind were stunning, noble works for people in one of the poorest areas in the country.

Here are a couple of excerpts from Rural Studio, Samuel Mockbee and an Architecture of Decency:

…”And here we are in the twenty-first century,” Mockbee says, “and we’re still ignoring the problem and southern blacks are still invisible.” He concludes that addressing problems and trying to correct them is “the role an artist or architect should play.”

…”The best way to make real architecture is by letting a building evolve out of the culture and place. These small projects designed by students at the studio remind us what it means to have an American architecture without pretense. They offer us a simple glimpse into what is essential to the future of American architecture, its honesty.”

I have three books about Mockbee and the Rural Studio:


There’s a group on Flickr of Hale County.

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