Book talk: “A Vision For My Father”

with

Rajie Cook
Artist

*A light lunch is served at 12:30 p.m. Talk begins promptly at 1:00 p.m.

A Vision For My Father details a remarkable journey for artist Rajie Cook, whose parents, Najeeb and Jaleela Cook, came as Palestinian immigrants to the United States in search of peace and opportunity for themselves and their family. This memoir evolves into a narrative of how Rajie Cook, for whom art is an organic expression of inspiration, made his mark on the international stage of graphic design.

Sight, what we see and what we think we see, is a major theme in this narrative. On one level, Cook gives sight back to his father who was blinded in the early 1930’s by the ravages of cataract, an event which prevented his father from sharing in the excitement of Cook’s success in the visual field. His father could not see the symbols that he and his partner had created and that the world continues to rely on to navigate transportation symbols and public places. Cook’s father died before “seeing” his talented son shake the hand of an American president.

Cook inherited his father’s love for Palestine and for the Palestinian people, which motivated his many travels to the Middle East. Now, using art as his voice, and the camera as a partner, Cook has lifted the veil of what people see or think they see with regard to the Palestinian people. Some of the photographs are disturbing and his recounted experiences equally unsettling because he narrates the truth as he sees it. The pain of the Palestinian people, with the horror of the Occupation and the brutality of life that Palestinian children experience every day, cries out though Cook’s art and activism. He wants the world to see what he has seen, and like his father before him, yearns for peace to come to this troubled and tortured region. The image of his father sitting by the radio is replaced by the image of Cook working in his studio, both men wishing for a peace that seems eternally elusive.

Copies of A Vision For My Father, which you can read more about herewill be available for purchase at the event.

 

Endorsements of the book:

“A powerful and poignant expression of the Palestinian narrative of exile weaving together the aesthetic and the personal story of longing for home. Rajie Cook’s personal account is an intimate revelation of the special bond between father and son in the context of the Palestinian national identity and experience. This revelation emanates from an emotional identification with an attachment to the father as a visual and artistic celebration of creative expression. The narrative is therefore multifaceted; yet it unravels in the context of an exile in the West that is essentially discriminatory and dismissive of the humanity of the Palestinian people individually and collectively.” – Dr Hanan Ashrawi

“Rajie has been able to combine all his talents, his sensitivity and his civic engagement in a series of powerful statements that prompt us to cope with the present day realities. In doing that, he, once again has demonstrated that the role of the real artist cannot devoid himself from the human condition and the history of our time. This is the message of Art, and Rajie is its sublime interpreter.” – Massimo Vignelli, New York

 

Author Bio
Rajie / Roger Cook, (b 1930) is an internationally known graphic designer, photographer and artist who has served as President of Cook and Shanosky Associates, Inc., a graphic design firm he founded in 1967. His graphic design and photography have been used by IBM, Container Corporation of America, Montgomery Ward, Squibb Corporation, Black & Decker, Volvo, Subaru, AT&T, New York Times, Bell Atlantic, BASF, Lenox, and a number of other major international corporations.

In 1984, as one of the thirteen winners of the Federal Design Achievement Awards for the Arts he received the Presidential Award for Design Excellence from President Reagan and Elizabeth Dole at the White House in Washington, DC. In 2003, “Symbols Signs” a project designed by his firm for the US Department of Transportation was accepted by the Acquisitions Committee to the collections of Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, and The Smithsonian Institution. He has also served on the Pratt Institute Advisory Board and has been a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. For ten years he served on the Task Force for the Middle East, a group sponsored by the Presbyterian Church, USA, which he traveled with on fact-finding trips to Israel, Jordan, the West Bank, and Gaza.

 

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