“Elysian Fields: Bart Parker and Cohorts”
Elysian Fields was one of Bart’s favorite phrases and he used it often in his lectures as a way of explaining what he hoped to help his students achieve. He used the term in the sense of an artist claiming their own abilities to explore as yet unexamined vistas of thought and creativity and manifestation. He saw this as a utopian ideal of being an artist: entering and exploring the Elysian Fields in order to bring back creative works that were unexpected, evocative, thought-provoking, sometimes disturbing, and ultimately satisfying.
Bart spoke of New Orleans as his first idea of a city. It is no coincidence that a street in New Orleans bears the name Elysian Fields, and appeared as a character in Streetcar Named Desire. Bart’s teaching style was a way to get others to awaken to the artist’s quest at the behest of their unique desire. The results of his success are visible in the work of his students.
He created a wonderful community around his photographic studio. All his Department colleagues remember him as insightful and wise but also full of humorous anecdotes and asides (like his Donner Party comments!) both at faculty meetings and in more informal settings over a glass of beer.
Photo by Stan Strembicki