March 22: The Journey to Answers

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Ahoy, ahoy!  I can hardly believe the semester is coming to a close so quickly… I have really loved writing this blog, it’s been such a great learning and growing experience.  Who knows, maybe I will continue writing it in the future!

Yesterday, I attended an artist’s talk by Andrea Mortson at the Owens.  While the talk was interesting and entertaining, upon further discussion with my roommate, she remarked that she found Andrea had not answered many questions about her work and that the talk was very open ended.  What do we do when the people we turn to for answers about specific ideas or concepts seem to be drawing as much of a blank as we are?  This brings me back to a problem I had in my Globalization class earlier this term.  We all had to present our ideas and concepts for a massive research paper that we were to be working on all term.  When it came my turn to present, I expressed my frustration at being incapable of establishing a concrete answer to my research question.  My professor, who can be rather cryptic sometimes, merely remarked that “sometimes, the journey of trying to find an answer is as important as the answer that you are trying to find” or something along those poetic lines.

To me, this concept of the journey toward an answer was what Andrea’s works were.  Some of her works, she felt incapable of describing, yet also expressed that what we thought about the work could not be wrong.  She did not have a “right” answer, and maybe she never would.  Why does an answer matter so much to us?  Why do we always have to have concrete examples or structures or concepts behind everything?  While Andreas work is not abstract, perhaps the concepts behind it are.  In a sense, our own personal journey towards answering “what does this mean” can be just as important as finding a concrete answer to that question.  For some questions, there are concrete answers, quantifiable answers, empirical answers.  For some questions, the theoretical answers will be woven out of a personal journey and account of the effects something may have on a person.  Often, we make assumptions and classifications about the meanings behind the work of deceased artists, so I think it is understandable that we may be shocked at the inability of a living artist to express a clear cut, well executed answer about what exactly is being represented or expressed in their work.  Perhaps we shouldn’t be so shocked.

That’s all!



March 10: Reacting to art

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Ahoy, ahoy!

Apologies for the delay.  I promised to have something really fantastically insightful for you up sometime this weekend, and suffice to say, this did not happen.  So I don’t know if this entry is going to be awesome or insightful, I just know that I have to do it.  A plus, I’ve got a lovely entry based off of today’s lecture that I cannot wait to post tomorrow.  But for now, reflections of the weekend.  We had to write a painting review for class today, reflecting specifically on either a talk by Ben Reeves or a gallery exhibition by Andrea Mortson.  I was at a complete loss of what on earth to write about.  My brilliant, art-history-masters-program accepted roommate, however, polished off a great little review about the technique of thin application of paint in Mortson’s works.  I, on the other hand, felt as though it would be torturous to get a few words out, and whether or not they were good words was to the mercy of Gemey.  Sometimes I wonder how art critics do it.  I went to the Owens and was there for close to an hour, just looking at these paintings and thinking lots of different thoughts associated with each one.  But when it came down to analyzing or critiquing the subject of painting, I didn’t even know which way to look!  Was I supposed to be speaking about the application of paint or the subjects in the paintings?  Colours used? How the painting made me feel?  The possibilities were so varied!  I ended up writing about how the paintings made me feel, but the technical aspects of the art were lost on me.  I love art but perhaps I wouldn’t make a very good critic or art historian.  A patron of the arts perhaps?  To me, what I take away from most works is not technical but how I felt.  Was my first reaction “That’s cool/scary/weird/awesome” or was it “That’s bad/sloppy/messy/poor quality?”  I feel like I have not been immersed long enough in the art world to begin passing judgements on the quality of work.  Perhaps, like anything, it simply takes practice.  Until then, I suppose I’ll be content with personal reactions and reflections.

That’s all for tonight!