This article appeared on Page One in the Oct. 23, 2003 Jewish Advocate.
Mother and son produce film study on world maps
By Susie Davidson
“We can only understand the world if we're willing to see things from multiple perspectives,” says filmmaker Bob Abramms, who, with his mother Ruth, has created “Many Ways To See The World,” a video presentation of the images and stories behind 12 compelling world maps of visionary mapmakers. This past Saturday at 11 a.m., the film premiered at the Coolidge Corner Cinema in Brookline. Attendees received world maps.
Imagemakers Len Guelke, Arthur Robinson, Tom Van Sant, Arno Peters, Buckminster Fuller and Paul Hoffman are featured in the 30-minute film, which also tells the story of Stuart McArthur, who developed McArthur's Universal Corrective Map with its unique downunder viewpoint, and Gerardus Mercator, who in truth never intended to draw the world in the way it is commonly viewed.
“A 79-year-old mother and her 54-year-old son makes for a pretty interesting team,” said Abrams, who launched the project when she videotaped a presentation by Abramms, her son (who spells the name with an added “m”).
Abrams, who hosts the award-winning community cable TV show ElderVision on Brookline Access Television, began her career in videography following her 1994 retirement as the Director of Amenities at the New England Baptist Hospital. She has shown collage and assemblage work at the Newbury College Gallery and the Boston Museum of Science, among other venues, and has won seven awards, which have included the 1998 Massachusetts Cable Television Division, 2000 Hometown USA National Festival, and the 2003 Alliance for Community Media. A PSA she produced for the Brookline Senior Center was recently declared the only local winner in the National Alliance for Community Media competition.
Raised in Lynn and later Newton, her parents, Anne and Harry Abrams, were Ukraininian immigrants. Following her career at New England Baptist, she managed their gift shop, and chaired the first arts and crafts show at Temple Israel. A past member of the Greater Lynn Jewish Community Center, a Life member of Hadassah for 50 years and a member of the JCRC, she has been both civically and Jewishly active.
“One of the central elements of Jewish culture and teaching is to question everything,” she said. “Many Ways” does exactly that. It explores, questions, and challenges assumptions about how the world really is.”
In addition to Abramms, she has two daughters, Bette Abrams-Esche of Amherst, the grant administrator for the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators’ Alliance in Hadley, and Jane Serena Mezoff of Atlanta, a Behavioral Scientist at the Center for Disease Control’s Division of TB Elimination.
“The ‘truth’ can be seen from many vantage points,” said Abramms, whose company, ODT, Inc., published several of the world map images in the video, which include the Peters Projection map featured on the “ The West Wing” and a series of maps which show South on top. Jamie Traynor, Academic Technology Media Specialist at Simmons College, helped to revise and enhance the video.
“It’s a provocative learning tool,” he said. “The images jog our consciousness and expand our ways of thinking about ourselves and the planet we live on. The film takes you behind the scenes, and provides insight into the inner motivations that led each person to pursue their vision. The stories are inspiring, insightful, and fun to hear about. And they encourage us to think more critically about world and the images that typically presented to us.”
Next up for mother and son is “Arno Peters: His Remarkable Map,” a videotaping created in 2001 when they flew to Bremen, Germany to interview mapmaker Dr. Arno Peters.
The event was co-sponsored by Ten Thousand Villages and the Brookline Booksmith of Coolidge Corner; the Booksmith continues to have videos for sale.
Media kits and advance copies of the video are available from ODT, Inc. at 800-736-1293. Information on ODT resources is available at www.odt.org.