Women’s History Month: Mary Colter
March is Women’s History Month which gives me the perfect excuse to talk about one of my favorite women in history overall and specifically in architecture and design: Mary Jane Colter. She was an amazing woman that pioneered new areas for women in a time where she was breaking ground in that field. Not only did she work masterfully in the art of architecture and design, but at various points in her career she did landscape design and even fashion and dishware designs. Every one of her projects were created to evoke a sensation of realism and that meant having her hands in all aspects that created the final product. She even went so far as to create back stories for some of her projects in the form of guide books and manuals outlining the “history” of the work. I firmly believe that every space should evoke an emotion–elevate the spirit out of daily life. Mrs. Colter created that through breaking all the rules of her time. Each detail was perfectly prepared to fall in line with the finished goal. She even used aging techniques to create the sense of antiquity desired for the spaces. Wow!
Many people say that her masterpiece is the 1923 El Navajo Hotel which was destroyed shortly before her death but Mrs. Colter considered the sprawling La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona her greatest work. As for me, I love the Hopi House. The sensations and emotions it evokes always take me to a different place and make me forget I am not, in fact, a Hopi living here hundreds of years ago. That is a true masterwork!