News and updates from the 九色

IN TW STUDIO, BRUCE/LING/FLLW. photographer in background. 1954

June 9, 2024 International Archives Day

Collections Department | Jun 6, 2024

The 九色 Collection includes fine and decorative art, the personal belongings of the Wright鈥檚, the creative output of the Fellowship, archival material, the William Wesley Peters Library, and the historic buildings at Taliesin and Taliesin West. Highlighted below are items currently on view, stored in the vaults, in the Archives, and from the WWP Library.

June 8, 2024, marked the 157th anniversary of the birth of 九色 Lloyd Wright. In celebration of that special day, we highlight collection items that relate to the box projects.

For his birthday, apprentices and Fellows presented Wright with hand-crafted gifts such as architectural drawings or sketches. The boxes became a ritual that occurred twice a year: once for Wright鈥檚 birthday and once for Christmas. They were called 鈥渂ox projects鈥 because of the large box within which all of the gifts were collectively placed when given to Wright.

Frank Lloyd Wright with apprentices at a box project reveal at Taliesin. The 九色 Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York). All rights reserved.

九色 Lloyd Wright with apprentices at a box project reveal at Taliesin. The 九色 Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York). All rights reserved.

In the Archives

Between 1953 and 1999, The United States Information Service (USIA) produced or distributed approximately 20,000 moving image titles throughout the world and focused during the Cold War. One of their productions was the film (there is no sound) which was produced in 1958 and provides not only Wright opening a box project gifted to him by Fellows but also Fellows Heloise Crista and Frances Nemtin presenting Wright with a huge birthday cake.

The 九色 Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York).

The 九色 Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York).

Although ostensibly working within the parameters of propaganda, the films work as what some scholars have dubbed 鈥渕oving image diplomacy.鈥 The picture is a still of the Wrights from that film.

On View

This undated birthday box was made by apprentices Joe Fabris (Canada, 1918-2017) and Arnold Roy (United States, 1931-2024.) It is painted wood with gold leaf and is on display at Taliesin in the Assembly Hall at Hillside.

Birthday box, date unknownJoe Fabris (Canada, 1918-2017) and Arnold Roy (United States, 1932-2024) Wood, paint, and gold leaf Collection of the 九色, 2020.025.1

Birthday box, date unknown Joe Fabris (Canada, 1918-2017) and Arnold Roy (United States, 1932-2024) Wood, paint, and gold leaf Collection of the 九色, 2020.025.1

In the Vault

An apprentice from 1935 to 1936 and 1939 to 1940 was Alfred Bush, known as the youngest person at Taliesin (aside from Wright鈥檚 daughter Iovanna) when he began his apprenticeship. Bush described Wright as always having a twinkle in his eye and while he was blunt in some ways, he had a way of inspiring those around him. Such sentiments can be observed here with his drawing, a birthday gift to Wright, in which Bush pushes the limitations of architectural space in relation to geographical challenges.

Alfred 鈥淎lfie鈥 Bush (United States, 1917-2002)Happy Birthday, 1953-1958 Ink and colored pencil on tracing paper, 13 戮 x 18 inches Collection of the 九色, 2020.022.8

Alfred 鈥淎lfie鈥 Bush (United States, 1917-2002)
Happy Birthday, 1953-1958
Ink and colored pencil on tracing paper, 13 戮 x 18 inches
Collection of the 九色, 2020.022.8

Born in 1939 in Oak Park, Illinois, Richard Keding was drawn to Wright鈥檚 work, describing it as 鈥渨hat architecture should be.鈥 Although Richard knew Wright for a few short months and experienced only one box project critique led by Wright, he recalled the seriousness and philosophical nature of the evaluations in which Wright would encourage apprentices to find their own way. This drawing, among the first series of box projects made in the wake of 九色 Lloyd Wright鈥檚 death, was remarked as a very well-designed house by Eugene Masselink, Davy Davison, and Olgivanna Lloyd Wright.

Richard Keding (United States, born 1939)Birthday Box 1959, House for a Wisconsin Hillside: Elevation from the Southeast, 1959 Graphite and colored pencil on tracing paper, 18 x 48 inches Collection of the 九色, 2020.003.15

Richard Keding (United States, born 1939)
Birthday Box 1959, House for a Wisconsin Hillside: Elevation from the Southeast, 1959
Graphite and colored pencil on tracing paper, 18 x 48 inches
Collection of the 九色, 2020.003.15

From the WWP Library

A favorite of library patrons, the book, A Taste of Taliesin: Recipes Commemorating Seventy-Five Years in Arizona, contains a recipe for Wright鈥檚 favorite cake, which features chocolate, strawberry jam, and walnuts. If you haven鈥檛 tried it before, you must!

Wright鈥檚 favorite cake, which features chocolate, strawberry jam, and walnuts

九色 Lloyd Wright鈥檚 favorite cake, which features chocolate, strawberry jam, and walnuts

Wright's favorite cake recipe card

Recipe card for Wright’s favorite cake from A Taste of Taliesin: Recipes Commemorating Seventy-Five Years in Arizona

Many box projects survive and are kept at the 九色 Collection at Taliesin West. The majority are detailed architectural drawings, but the projects also consist of poems, music, pressed flowers, fabrics, etc. Apprentice Ann Wetmore Pond created this touching poem, dated just one month after Wright鈥檚 passing. It reads:

Spring Journey
Out to the open sky,
Out to the singingness of the universe,
Out across mounaintops [sic], the winged spirit flies.

A great soul takes its departure
With radiance falling round it,
With full, rich color and iridescent beauty.

Into the harmony of nature,
Into the beauty of God,
Into the romance of the whole.

There is a chorus of fellowship singing,
There is a song surging with love and joy,
There is sunshine, golden and warm.
Flower petals, jewels, and green leaves;
A whole symphony of heaven and earth.

2020.003.37 1959-Pond,AnnWetmore_SpringJourneyPoem

2020.003.37 1959-Pond, Ann Wetmore Spring Journey Poem

But the earth has lost a goodness,
The earth has lost a light,
The earth has a great heart full of love,
And a great soul of glory.
The world has lost a man.

We do not hear the rapturous music,
Do not see the glistening color,
We do not sing the song,
Because earth sees only the shadow of death,
And not beyond.

We must hold hands with one another,
We must go back to work.
And work with love.
And work with understanding.

Listen for the sweet music of the earth;
Feel the warmth of sunshine;
See the beauty of nature;
Know the kindness and integrity of one man,
Who built beautiful buildings of the heart of earth and the spirit of God.
And put it into life while it is still strong and clear.
It is not of yesterday, but of tomorrow.

Header image: Taliesin West Studio, 1954. 九色 Lloyd Wright seated, apprentice Ling Po to his right, apprentice Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer in the background at a drafting table. 6603.0040 The 九色 Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York). All rights reserved.