Many years ago I took Ilya's art history class at San Diego State to satisfy a graduation requirement. I thought it would be a fairly easy and enjoyable class. Ilya turned out to be one of the hardest professors of my career! But I learned a lot of art history, even though Ilya came across as unreasonably earnest and serious about her subject matter. But she showed real interest in us as students, and even held informal gatherings at her mountain cabin for those who made the effort to get there, showing us her projects, her experiments in cooking, pigments, and sewing. We had a lot of fun during those times. Her children were bright, interesting and creative people she had home-schooled.
I'm writing here because I just found out by accident that Ilya passed away last Oct., and I was saddened and wanted to know more. Through the years I'd heard about the cabin destruction, her move back east, and her involvement in the chemtrails controversy, about which I know next to nothing. All I want to say here, is, (after listening to one of her last lectures on the subject), is that her seeming paranoia about large, complex systems was characteristic of her, no matter what the subject. In art history, it seemed appropriate to be somewhat paranoid about the injustices done to women artists in the past. But Ilya carried this a step further, involving herself in women's history in general and women's health issues specifically. Her interests seemed to follow whatever troubles were occurring in her own life, and she simply turned her remarkable research and writing skills towards whatever trouble was her focus. She masterfully combined, I thought, academic work with personal outrage. As I learned more from her about her academic history, I realized she fit a pattern that is familiar in the academic world: that of the unsuccessful academic (by that I mean not hired, not tenured, etc.). This failure can be responded to in many ways; Ilya seemed to enjoy taking on the role of 'outsider academic,' and I think over time just generalized this role to society at large.
I ended up feeling kind of sorry for my friend, who inspired me to learn more of art and women's history, but who also finally became too belligerent and demanding a friend to keep. I was not the only one to see this trait in her. Anyway, I still want to say she was a brilliant woman, and I think her work, whatever subject she was working on, no doubt has threads of truth and insight running through it. But I do think its important for other thinkers to continue to ask the hard questions, which include questions regarding one's own motivations, as well as trying to understand opposing views. Ilya did not seem to do these things very well.
Thank you, Ilya, for being an interesting part of my own life - I was glad to hear you have grandchildren, and no doubt they will in their time contribute their own share of love and compassion to this complex, troubled world.