Shut Your Mouth and Save Your Life: 1870 health book resonates in the era of protective masks

The following blog comes from Olson Graduate Assistant Rich Dana, who interviewed Marvin Sackner on his collection of concrete and visual poetry. 

Image from 4th edition of Shut Your Mouth 

Among the over 75,000 items in the newly-acquired Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, there are many unique and one-of-a-kind art objects and artists’ books. Along with original artwork, there is an impressive collection of reference material, monographs, and other rare books. Among Dr. Sackner’s favorites is a little-known work written by the 19th-century American painter George Catlin with the alarming title, Shut Your Mouth and Save Your Life. Catlin’s book, first published in 1870, was one of the inspirations for the Sackner’s 1992 “Beauty in Breathing” exhibit

Dr. Sackner recalls: “Catlin did all of the illustrations, and there is some very interesting typography in the book… on the last page, “Shut Your Mouth” is printed in very large type. When I was giving tours of the collection, sometimes I would show this book at the end of the tour, and say, “Now I’m going to shut MY mouth!”

Catlin’s take on the two kinds of breathing

Catlin, who is most famous for his many paintings of the indigenous people of the North American plains, penned Shut Your Mouth in response to what he observed as the superior health of the tribes among which he traveled. He came to the conclusion that the key to their vigor was their practice of breathing through the nose, and “…that breathing should be done as Nature designed it, through the nostrils, instead of through the mouth.” Although the book was criticized in medical journals at the time for its lack of scientific rigor and the popular press derided the author as “Indian-loving Catlin,” the little book sparked interest among health-conscious readers, and the volume was widely reprinted.

Despite some common terminology of the era that we may find cringe-worthy today, the book reflects Catlin’s deep passion for improving the health of people of all backgrounds, his profound respect for Native Americans, and in some cases, his sense of humor. The illustrations are sometimes comical and often satiric. To some degree, history has proven Catlin’s theory correct: mouth-breathing has been shown to cause health problems ranging from tooth decay to sleep problems – even abnormal jaw growth in children.

What can we learn today from Catlin’s passion for proper breathing and public health? As many of us are now spending our days working from home, the tendency may be to also be less physically active. Dr. Sackner, a retired pulmonologist, reminds us that during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vitally important to protect our lungs. We need to maintain our immune systems by staying physically active, practicing good sleep hygiene, and avoiding smoking, vaping, and other harmful habits.

——–

All images in this blog post come from a 4th edition of George Catlin’s Shut Your Mouth and Save Your Life found on Internet Archive. See the full digital copy here.

Click here for CDC’s information on maintaining a healthy lifestyle during COVID-19

For More Information About the Sackner Collection, click here

Alchemy of Breathing

In the shadow of Covid-19, The Sackner Collection shines a light on “The Beauty in Breathing”

The following blog comes from Olson Graduate Assistant Rich Dana who interviewed Marvin Sackner on his exhibit “The Beauty in Breathing.”

An exhibition of works from the newly acquired Ruth and Marvin Sackner Collection of Visual and Concrete Poetry at the Main Library Gallery is one of the countless art events that have been postponed due to the current global health crisis. In some respects, however, the Sackner Collection is more relevant now than ever.

Alchemy of Breathing
Paul Laffoley, The Alchemy of Breathing,1992

Dr. Marvin Sackner is not only one of the world’s foremost collectors of artwork that combines visual elements and text, but he is also an internationally respected pulmonologist. The inventor of several medical devices designed to aid oxygen flow in patients, the 88-year-old former Head of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach is keeping a close eye on the epidemic and is currently completing a paper on potential alternative treatment strategies to address the ravaging effects of COVID-19 on the human respiratory system.

Ruth Laxson, Ride the Dance Down,1991

Visual poetry is, at its most basic level, the depiction of the sounds made by the air moving from our lungs and across our vocal cords. It’s not surprising then that breath is one of the common themes found in the Sackner’s vast collection of artists’ books, framed images, and 3D objects. In 1992, Dr. Sackner created a unique exhibition of work by an international selection of artists entitled “The Beauty in Breathing” as a special event at the annual meeting of The American Lung Association & American Thoracic Society. Some of the works were already part of the Sackner’s collection, but many were commissioned especially for the 3-day event.

It was a scientific meeting,” recalls Sackner. “And in the middle of it, here is this exhibition. A lot of people got exposed to “art and poetry” for the first time. It was really great fun to observe them. A lot of doctors aren’t necessarily art-inclined, but here, over a thousand people got to see this exhibit over a three-day period.”

Tom Phillips, Pneuma,1984

As we come to grips with the devastating effects of COVID-19 on individual lives and on society, Dr. Sackner’s life’s work illustrates the importance of scientific progress and the discovery of new, life-saving treatments. His passion for art reminds us that despite hardship, we must continue to value creative expression, which is such a large part of how we process both the beautiful and terrible in the world around us.

The works included in “The Beauty in Breathing” show, along with copies of the exhibit catalog, original photographs from the event, and Dr. Sackner’s curatorial records are all part of his donation to the University of Iowa’s Special Collections. Until visitors are once again able to visit our reading room, we will do everything we can to share these materials with the public.

 

Issue of Quaranzine

2020: The Year of the QuaranZINE

The following is written by Rich Dana, Olson Graduate Research Assistant for Special Collections. 

As librarians, we are engaged in service to our communities, and that service doesn’t end when the library has to lock its doors to protect its patrons and workers. All of us are faced now with leveraging any tools at our disposal to serve those who need to continue teaching, learning, researching, creating and maintaining some continuity in their lives during the “social distancing” of the current moment.

Issue of Quaranzine
Mark Fischer adds Quaranzine #1 to a Chicago Little Free Library

I was sitting in a comfortable weekend rental apartment above Rago’s Funeral home in Chicago (famous as the location of Al Capones wake) with my family when the reality of the situation really set in. The Art Institute was closing. Concerts were canceled. Visiting a nearly empty Quimby’s bookstore, manager Liz Mason and I discussed the cancellations of all upcoming zine fests, art book and small press events. It occurred to me that zine-makers would be dealing with the quarantine as they do many of life’s struggles; by making zines about it. Liz threw out a title for such efforts, calling them “quaranzines.”

That afternoon I set up a Facebook group as a hub place for collaboration and as a collection point for these quaranzines. By the time I got back to Iowa the next day, cities across the nation were implementing “shelter in place” orders, and well over 200 people had joined the Covid-19 zine group.

From 5 Ways to Keep Busy (when you can’t leave the house) by Kelly Wooten

Members hail from all over the world, reporting on what they are seeing and making, sharing their work. Marc Fischer from Chicago prints a 2-page issue of Quaranzine every day, posting them on light poles and bus stops around the neighborhood. Ashley Thuthao Keng Dam in Siem Reap, Cambodia is asking for people to send artwork and writing for her first issue of QuaranZINE. She is working on it despite the high temperatures and the lack of air conditioning caused by power outages in the village. As I prepare the first issue of my own quaranzine, Dri-Koff Weekly, another zine arrives in my mailbox. 5 Ways to Keep Busy (when you can’t leave the house) by Kelly Wooten in Chapel Hill.

We all hope that quaranzines are a thing of the past soon. Until then- I’ve got another issue to put out.


The Social Distancing Festival

Submissions are open to all, though the organizer is currently prioritizing work that was cancelled/disrupted/delayed due to the need for social distancing and COVID-19.

Submit and learn more about The Social Distancing Festival here

 

Flatlands Press

Flatland Press invites you to submit pieces for Flat Space, a publication that will be created around this period of social distancing.Present themes orbiting around forms of communication, shorten the distance between us, and antiquated tech/dead tech.

Please submit ideas, images, writings at Flatlandspress@gmail.com
Please add: Flat Space to subject headings.

 

THE SPACE BETWEEN: a free PDF coloring/activity book by PS1 & friends

Local Iowa City group, Public Space One brings you Space Between: The PS1 & Friends (never ending) activity book (vol. 2 could be with you!)

Click here if you’d like to submit to the community coloring/activity book.

 

The Quarantine Times:

“This project continues until the crisis ends, at which point all artists’ contributions will be promptly compiled into a publication and released at a celebration. We’ll be together again.”

Check out more about this project here.

 

Quaranzine Fest 2020!

A viral safe-space for your zines!
Quaranzine Fest is simple. Post your work on the platform of your choice April 4th and 5th tagged #quaranzinefest. There’s more info on their website including a funny / awkward tutorial on how to digitize your analog zine with an iPhone!

On April 4th and 5th like, comment, and share the work of others! Be a good samaritan – do more than just browse and passively like. If you can afford it, mail order some zines – after all it’s a zinefest!

 

Quaranzine:

A Daily Riso zine by Marc Fischer is open to publishing work by others:

Copies are posted in public places in his neighborhood in Chicago, left in some Little Free Libraries in the area, shared online on social media, and distributed more formally eventually when it’s safe for people to get together in groups. Get in touch if you are interested.

 

QuaranZINE

From Ashley Thuthao Keng Dam:

If you are fortunate enough to be in (self) quarantine, I would like to create a zine, aptly titled, “QuaranZINE”. In this work, I aim to collectively publish short writing pieces, poems, art, rants, and almost anything that is produced during quarantine.

For more information please contact a.dam@studenti.unisg.it with the subject heading: QuaranZINE.

 

Dri-Koff Weekly:

A one page mimeograph zine available by mail, or as a print-and-fold pdf. Coming out weekly until this is over. Art, writing, comics, helpful hints and observations about living and staying sane during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Send submissions or requests for copies to ricardo.obsolete@gmail.com.

Downloads available soon.

 

Social Distance Quara-zine! Collective zine-making in the age of Covid-19 Facebook Group

Social Distance Quara-zine is an online zinefest.  The world was a lonely enough place before, and now this. While we are all in lock-down mode, maybe we can find a way to get together via pictures and words, to share ideas, make communal art and survive the madness together (while staying at least 3 meters apart.)

 
Daily Schedule by Violet Crandall

Want to learn more about zines, zine-making or the zine collections at the University of Iowa? Check out:

 
And be sure to check out these other great sources as well!