Dreaming with Animals: Anna Hyatt Huntington and Brookgreen Gardens is the first children’s biography of celebrated sculptor and Brookgreen Gardens cofounder Anna Hyatt Huntington. Her remarkable life serves as an inspiration not only because of the greatness of her art but also because of her courage and perseverance. L. Kerr Dunn highlights how Anna overcame society’s expectations of women and survived a life-threatening illness to become a prolific sculptor and an important benefactor of art and wildlife until her death at age ninety-seven.
As a young woman, Anna moved to New York City at a time when American women of her class rarely lived alone or worked outside the home. Although she studied briefly under famous sculptors, she soon felt restless and left art school and began to teach herself to sculpt animals by watching them closely, trying to see the animal’s true spirit and then representing that spirit in her work. Over time Anna established herself as an important animalier, an artist specializing in realistic portrayals of animals. By 1915 she was one of only ten American women artists earning enough money from the sales of her art to support herself. Later, with her husband, Archer Huntington, Anna founded South Carolina sculpture garden and wildlife preserve Brookgreen Gardens, the country’s first public sculpture garden and the world’s largest collection of figurative sculpture by American artists in an outdoor setting.
This biography provides engaging details of Anna’s life, such as her tendency as a child to lie in pastures studying horses; her travels around the country with her husband in a trailer full of monkeys, dogs, and birds; and the couple’s purchase of a zoo. In Dreaming with Animals, Dunn has provided us with an affecting portrait of a strong, capable, talented, and innovative woman
Robin R. Salmon, vice president for collections and curator of sculpture at Brookgreen Gardens, provides a foreword.
L. Kerr Dunn is a a writer interested in the intersections of art, health, and science as well as the lives of unconventional women. Her writing career started at 18 when she won an international writing contest sponsored by Guideposts Magazine. Since then, she has won awards from the SC Fiction Project, the Piccolo Spoleto Fiction Open, and the SC Poetry Initiative (as Lisa Kerr). She has also been a Pushcart Prize nominee. In addition to her book-length works, she has published widely in creative and academic journals including Quarterly West, Calyx, Phoebe, The Examined Life, Yemassee, and The Intima.
Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe were masters of mystery and fantasy, but they also engaged real controversies surrounding individual health, health care practice, and biomedical research in nineteenth-century America. During this volatile era, when mesmerists, phrenologists, and other pseudoscientists reigned and “regular” physicians were just beginning to consolidate power, Hawthorne and Poe provided important critiques of experimental and often haphazard systems of care, as well as insights into the evolving understanding of mental and physical pathologies. As writers, they responded to the social, historical, and medical forces of their own time, yet they also addressed themes of bioethics, humanism, and patient-centered care that remain relevant in the twenty-first century.
Mysterious Medicine is the first anthology to bring together Hawthorne’s and Poe’s doctor-scientist tales along with thought- provoking introductions and discussion questions that make the anthology suitable for classrooms, book clubs, and individual readers. Every reader will discover new dimensions to classic tales like Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter” or Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” while also exploring lesser-known works like Hawthorne’s “Dr. Bullivant” and Poe’s “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.”
As one would expect of America’s dark romantics, the tales feature gothic elements such as crumbing mansions, chaotic madhouses, and pathological killers. They also include medical horrors like premature burial, plague, and poisonings at the hands of quacks, conveying the anxiety Americans felt about unethical experimentation, misunderstood diseases, and the rise of body snatching for anatomical study. Complementary text by L. Kerr Dunn helps situate each tale within the context of nineteenth-century medicine and draws parallels to health-related issues with which we struggle today.
The doctor-scientist stories collected in Mysterious Medicine provide evidence that the arts and humanities offer unique ways to explore the social, cultural, political, and personal forces that affect the way we suffer and heal.
Call it Absence, my latest chapbook, will be published in spring 2019 by Dancing Girl Press!
Read Between the Sheets (SC Poetry Initiative/Stepping Stones Press), poetry chapbook.