I'm indecisive by nature. So when I am able to hold it down & decide on a single something, that alone is an accomplishment. To further fall in-love with said something because of a decision I made is even more miraculous and extremely humbling. My past travels this week were a culmination of three of these moments.
First, thank heavens I decided to get away on a week-long trip with great friends. I don't know why I made that decision so much harder than it needed to be because there was no way I could have kept going without allowing myself a break from the routine I had fallen into. Score no.1: Boston √
Secondly, thank heavens I decided to depart from friends & go to the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art). Salem is cool & all but I only half liked Sabrina & the Teenage Witch (or was it "Sabrina The Teenage Witch?). Either way, I left that up to the rest of the clique & flew solo.
The exhibition I went to see was "When the Stars Begin to Fall: Imagination and the American South," naturally. Score no.2: Art √
I was floored / too excited to shed a tear even when I wanted to.
The subtle & overt references to religiously left me incredibly uplifted. I had walked through the entire show about three times before deciding I had to share this moment with others aka: hi blog.
Featured were artists such as, "Kara Walker, Kerry James Marshall, David Hammons, and Theater Gates. It presents diverse artworks-from drawing and painting to performance and sculpture, and assemblege- unified by an insistent reference to place."
If I had to choose, I'd have to say the piece that sent me over the edge was Theaster Gates' Billy Sings Amazing Grace; (2013-14). It was after this piece, I decided to take a slight break to decompress. I decided on some soup and a great view in efforts of soothing my aching soul and nourishing my melting heart.
*update // 3.7.17: I was recently contact by artsy.net who shared with me their online archive of Theaster Gates' work. Though Gates' video work that I saw at this show is not available on the site (he's mostly a potter, but you get a brief glimpse of the video I mentioned here at 47:28 via Art21 http://www.art21.org/videos/segment-theaster-gates-in-chicago), the work there will at the very least and to get a deeper sense of what I experienced by seeing this work in-person. Artsy's goal is to share art through access and be a resource for collectors and those seeking art education. So long as one can connect to the internet, anyone can use Artsy. This was unpaid endorsement but of course, as an artist myself I wanted to share this valuable tool with readers. I used Artsy quite a bit in school whenever looking for an artist's work, or to simply read their bio at get a sense of them at-a-glance. Seriously, use it. Their daily emails always have a concept or article that I enjoy delving in. https://www.artsy.net/
There was another amazing exhibition at the ICA, Sonic Arboretum. Audio, music & sound is another great love of mine (hence the category, 'Art and Sound') so I felt it was just what I needed. I soaked in the beautiful audio allowing my mind to drift & meditate whilst laying prostrate on the bench in the middle of the room. I thought about why these pieces spoke to me so much. I thought about the future of art & video. I thought about the beautiful escape that is sound. I found myself floating around in satisfaction, trying to quantify why I felt so fulfilled.
It was only after experiencing this piece for about twenty minutes that I realized all the beautiful sound was being played off little mini iPods & projected through these grand shell like speakers. It was being controlled by a synchronizer, all pre-recored & filed on the numerous iPods orchestrating the sound.
After feeling satisfied with enough inspiration to get my creative juices flowing for the next month or lifetime or so, a friend told me about Kehinde Wiley's show at the Brooklyn Museum upon driving down to NYC for a two-day stay. I was already heading to BK to get some banging South African food & a fresh new hair-do so I thought why not. I'm not always the most enthused to see paintings, but I figured it might be better to go than not. Great call & score no.3: Art 2.0 √
Again, floored / too excited to cry.
It was as if Wiley had reached into the depths of my soul & found a little black girl vying for a sense of regality that I didn't even know I wanted. Alas, we can never have too many affirmations of worth. Wiley's work is breathe-taking. Paintings I could just stare at until the end of eternity. The show will be up at the museum until late May so get like me.
Just when art had me full on life and emotionally overwhelmed, the museum guide tells me about a panel discussion: "I Will Resist with Every Inch and Every Breath: Punk and the Art of Feminism." Score no.3.5: Art overload. √
I was finished.
At this point, I knew I would be satisfied just sitting and soaking it in. I had no questions, no concerns, just admiration and appreciation for life being so full. If only for that moment, this time, I felt my happiness could carry me through eternity.
So R.I.P. to all the heartless souls who feel art is dead & all the good ones have died. R.I.P. to sour art critics who adorn the past & stick their noses in the heavens to contemporary art. R.I.P. to that ego that now only serves to keep you cold at night.
Dramatics aside, I admit I too get ambivalent at times about this path to artistry. Where does my allegiance lie? It is to truth. It's fair to sometimes assume that art has been commercialized & commodified in a way that feels disingenuous. Who plays the most fictitious role in art? Sometimes it feels like the institution, the galleries, the museums, but maybe sometimes it's the space we've created for ourselves in the world. Artists can often be judgmental & critical to letting folks into this way of seeing the world. But art should not exist in a bubble, limited in capacity & destructible when penetrated. Maybe we should think of it as everything, art as everything, & it being the responsibility of various folks to show us all that thing. That one goal. Artistry is mission oriented, is it not? When our professor asked us during the first class to write mission statements as oppose to artist statements, my perspective slowly began to shift. What do I want to say about the world? What is everyone else saying? How can this big thing I love called art be manifested in my personal life? How much should my personal life affect my art? What is my role? My 'job?' Even if I don't care or agree with your claim on the world, life, etc. we all deserve space. A space that is penetrable, a space that is restricted by nothing but air. *update 4.13.15 : A space that is not cool with your (race, class, respectability, gender, ability, etc.) privilege. Just to be clear. OK - read on.
When I think about my nature, this indecisive nature of mine, I wonder if it's something I must claim & own. It might just be a way for me to let the world and others have decisive moments in my life. I don't ever want to feel like I am so in control of life and that the moment I have right now is something derived by me, tangible, & reconstructable by my own hands. Life is performative, & no one scene is ever really the same, I'll try approaching it one way, & I am directed in some other direction. My most powerful moments feel intangible, un-listable. My to-do's shift, & I might need to sometimes start things backwards. Sometimes ideas are blocked. Sometimes they can only be reached by doing something else, seemingly unconnected but probably not very. Sometimes things that feel important don't get done. This is a cool approach to adopt to creative exploration. This is often what I find most compelling in art -the beauty in finding the intangible in these very tangible things.