Tag Archives: art

Why?

Whoa.

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It is day two of our return from the big apple. I still cannot believe how quickly time flew by.

I have been thinking about my first day. I have even thought about my first blog post, my first written record of my city adventure. I remember how I struggled with New York Universities wifi, annoyed by the fact that not only I could complete my work, but I could not post images on Facebook. I finally connected and became tremendously excited. However, even though I have written several posts over the last three weeks, I failed to mention something that has developed in my mind since the beginning.

I began the trip with everyone believing I was an English major because I was taking both the ITDS class (which my fellow peers thought was English) and the photography class. All of the students who joined me on the trip assumed my major to be English. They soon found out I am an Exercise Science major and an Art minor.

Throughout the journey I began to think about my “why” for Exercise Science as a major. I compiled a list of reasons in my head.

• I want to become a Physical Therapist.
• Physical Therapy is a stable career choice.
• There is a high calling for individuals in the medical field.
• I enjoy helping and serving others while making their day.
• Stable income.

I believe these reasons are genuine and honest. I remember breaking my ankle in 10th grade. I was at a friend’s birthday party and landed wrong after trying to catch a football. I went through surgery and months later began my venture into physical therapy. After my first visit I could not wait to go back. The people there were amazing and I could see the progress in my ankle after every visit. I went from a weird feeling of never being able to play sports or participate in active activities again, to running cross country and playing soccer the next semester.

My inspiration grew and I dove into this new found career headfirst.

I had second thoughts about my major when I found decided on an Art minor. I became (and still am) more excited about my art and photography classes than any other class.

Throughout the trip I have really thought about whether to change my major to art or not. I love being creative and photography is my greatest passion. I believe what is holding me back is the risk of taking the leap into something unknown. However, sometimes, it is the leap of faith that provides the greatest success.

Much Love,
Nathan

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Slow Down the Time

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No! I cannot believe this is our last week in New York City! I am devastated. This place is truly amazing. I look upon the last two weeks wondering how time flew by so fast, wishing time would slow down for this last week. We leave Saturday, June 14. I guess we have quite a few more days. I still need to visit so many places. We have participated in a HUGE variety of activities including:

– Bus Tours
– Boat Tours
– Class in the park
– Tenement Museum
– Empire State building during the day and night
– The Metropolitan Museum of Art
– The Guggenheim
– The Museum of Modern Art
– The Blue Note
– Tour of Brooklyn
– Numerous amazing art galleries
– The Highline

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– Statue of Liberty
– Ellis Island
– Photographer Documentary (film)
– The Cloisters
– American Museum of Natural History
– Off Broadway musical, Avenue Q
– The Frick
– Coney Island Beach
– Coney Island Luna Park
– Central Park
– Little Italy
– Chinatown
– Harlem Tour
– Late night Harlem Shakes
– ?uestlove
– International Center of Photography
– New York Public Library
– And tonight, a Ballet (Cinderella)

All of these experiences have been unforgettable. They have been truly remarkable adventures I have had the pleasure to share with all of my newfound friends.

I left the computer a bit and after a brief moment I suddenly discovered a possible motive behind my reasoning for loving this place so much. I think with any vacation, you get the best possible experience (generally) and always consider a possible move. Once you realize the reality, you begin to understand that once you get to your dream location of living, it is not always fun and games. At home, we all have responsibilities whether it is work, school, or both. Sometimes it is difficult to notice when you are consistently participating in excitable activities and embarking on one adventure after the next. If an individual such as me were to move here, I would notice a shift in my love for the city. As we discussed today in class, individuals strolling down New York City’s streets usually tend to gaze straight ahead, ignoring my genuine smile. I would be working hard to ensure a place of living. I would not necessarily have time for the exhilarating voyages we have all experienced so far.

I am especially excited because we still have a few more days to expand our horizons. I am desperately attempting not to think about the flight home. I want to enjoy and savor our last few moments here in the Big Apple. I cannot wait to write about the next three days as I know something extraordinary will be experienced.

Much Love,
Nathan

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Consumerism, Art, or A Little Bit of Both?

The amount of 100 dollar bills on this shirt probably amounts to how much this shirt cost.

The number of 100 dollar bills on this shirt probably equals the shirt’s cost.

I love fashion. I don’t know why I feel a bit of shame admitting that; as if it’s a big deal that a young girl could like clothes is a shameful thing to admit. Maybe I hesitate to admit this about myself because I fear people will view me as shallow. I would be just another empty headed white girl who fancies clothes more than anything else, but it’s not like that for me. I just love clothes simply because they are pretty. If that makes me shallow then so be it. I honestly don’t see a difference between admiring clothes and admiring art. Some would even go so far as to say that fashion is art and to some extent I would have to agree. Fashion embraces some of the same elements that art does: form, color, movement, and texture. Avant garde fashion with it’s flamboyant style and outlandish designs resembles the experimental  nature of modernist art. Minimalist art can be seen in color blocked clothing and graphic tees exhibit the same characteristics of pop art. If art and fashion have such a close connection than why is one viewed as a worthy subject to be discussed in intelligent debate while the other is scoffed at as being superficial?

These are the sorts of thoughts that passed through my mind as I walked the streets of SoHo. Luxurious high end boutiques lined the streets and illuminated the evening with their vivid fluorescent store lights. I was in awe at the finely dressed mannequins and the equally polished store clerks that manned these boutiques. Most of the stores I did not recognize but a few were familiar: Tiffany & Co, Chanel, Burberry, and Michael Kors. All of these shops had one thing in common and that was their ridiculous price range. A single dress from one of these shops would cost me my entire college tuition. I admit that my statement is an exaggeration but the sentiment still stands. These were undoubtedly the kind of stores where if you had to ask the price then you couldn’t afford the product.

After seeing all these shops I had to wonder if their products counted as art or was there a more cynical motive behind the Burberry coats and Michael Kors purses? Money obviously has a hand in SoHo. To deny that would be unreasonable. Those who shop in SoHo have the income to afford the overly priced clothing and accessories while the businesses reap the benefits. What is happening in SoHo and in many other shopping districts is consumerism at work. Purchasing designer named products seems less like artistic self-expression and more like materialistic desire. I have the suspicion that those who buy Chanel purses do so not because of the quality but because of the name. They spend the money because they can and because possessing these items acts as a status marker. It’s a cynical opinion of the fashion world and a lot less of a romantic expression of art, but it’s the realistic truth. Is it a bad thing? I don’t know, but it is a good debate for another time.

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The Last Stop

This is not nearly all that is leftover from my trip. Some things cannot be counted.

When you’re trapped on a train for 30+ hours, you have plenty of time to think and reflect. When will my next hot shower be? Next hot meal? Will I ever see my dogs again? My friends and family? Who will panic first: me, one of my students, the four-year-old sitting five rows up? What did I forget? Who did I forget to buy a souvenir for? Did I lose any weight from all of that walking? Was this really the right time to quit smoking? (Turns out “no” on that last question, so don’t get too excited). But of course, as a writer, I was mostly thinking about what my last post would look like—how I would sum up this trip, how I would convey what I’ve learned and experienced overall.  And this is how it turned out—a return to an old lesson again.

I was nervous about this trip when we started talking about it last August, but by May, when everyone had paid his/her money and it was absolutely official, I was physically ill with anxiety. There was the planning: excruciating for someone as disorganized as I can be. There was the fact that I had never spent more than three days in New York City, and now I was going to have to navigate it…with 21 other people. 21 other people that I didn’t know that well: 19 students, 2 faculty members. It turns out that this is the lesson. It’s never about the place; it’s always about the people. No matter where you are, people have the potential to ruin your experience or to enhance it. I’m not talking about the helpful (and sometimes rude) strangers I encountered. I’m talking about our group—our family of 22.

I was also privileged to catch up with two old friends while I was on this trip, one that I hadn’t seen in months and one that I hadn’t seen in several years. Sitting on a rooftop in Williamsburg, I confessed to one of these friends that I didn’t feel very open anymore—that maybe this inability to be “open” was dragging down my self-esteem a good bit. She calmed my fears by telling me that this was common with folks our age—she’d heard plenty of people in their mid-thirties and forties express this sort of anxiety. I was still thinking about that conversation, along with the rest of the trip, as I struggled to survive the long road home. I sort of knew that, once I got back to Georgia, I was going to realize that I now feel more open. And that this wasn’t only because of three weeks spent immersed in the arts in New York City, but that this was actually mainly because of three weeks spent with an open and endearing group of people.

Let me tell you about them. On our second day there, one student expressed that her favorite thing about the city was that she didn’t feel like a minority there, that no one asked her “what are you?,” that she felt accepted and a part of something. On the third day, one faculty member laughed the entire time we had to pay INDIVIDUALLY for 22 Metrocards, which saved me from a near-panic attack and taught me not to worry so much about the details. Another student—of legal age—remarked that he had been to only one bar in his life before this trip and now he was out with his peers every night. My other colleague researched and led us on a lovely tour of Greenwich Village and the East Village, reciting poetry to us at nearly every stop (my favorite was a recital of the Ramones at the old CBGB’s). More than once at a museum, I overheard an art student explaining the significance of a painting to an English student. On my own, I conversed with art and English students about the importance of Jack Kerouac, the real “story” of hip hop, the experience of eating Ethiopian food and soup dumplings. We talked about music, about writing, about reading, about art and photography, about shoes and shopping, and sometimes just plain old life B.S. I did plenty of eavesdropping, and on their own, this group talked about relationships, their families, their goals and pursuits, their adaptability to what was around them. The students seemed to fall in love with the city—or at least certain aspects of it. They seemed to fall in love with each other, mostly metaphorically, and treated each other with respect. Then one of them literally fell in love with a New Yorker, and I wondered if he’d get on the train with us. And then two of the students didn’t. They didn’t get on the train. They found an apartment in two days. They stayed in New York City to pursue life dreams (or just some summer fun), very Carson-esque, even if they don’t realize it right now. All of this—ALL of it—comes with openness, an openness to the place and an openness with other people.

It occurs to me that, in 1940s Brooklyn, this is what the February House was all about. A grouping of artists that lived together, discussed life, became inspired and reflective because of these discussions. Sure, there was competitiveness, disorder, arguing, even some loneliness and some lostness, but as author Sherill Tippins sums up, each of them had been inspired either to create or did create some of the greatest work of their lives. And they formed lasting friendships, lasting memories. So, now, left to look at the trinkets brought back with me from the great city of New York, I am most moved to consider the people that lived with me for three weeks and inspired me to cultivate their openness. To lose the anxiety and just adapt. To live fully with curiousity. Thanks, y’all.

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Magical Journey

I did not take these pictures! Some other jerk took it when they weren’t supposed to but I’m taking it from the internet…Sorry. >_>;

Today we went to the Whitney Museum. I had heard that it was going to be more contemporary or modern art or whatever so I’ll admit to not being overly enthused since I’m not a big fan of modern art. I just don’t get it. Anyways. There were only two floors but I am going to talk about two things at the museum in one post. One thing on each floor because these two things were just that epic. J

So thing one is a piece called Fountain by Len Lye. It’s made up of stainless steel rods (that reflect colored lights) that emerge from a black base that looks like a top hat (like magician’s use!) only upside down. There’s a motor in there that makes the rods move. The colored lights, to me, seemed to be a fiery red and icy blue. Because the blue lights faded from the shiny metal look of the stainless steel to a light, but deep blue? And the red lights reflecting kind of shifted from a yellowy color to the bright red. Thus fire and ice kind of appearance. Any English Major who’s read Robert Frost knows where I’m going with this. And I am.

So “Fire and Ice”? And I had the poem kind of play through my head as I watched the rods move with the motor:

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

 

And that’s Frost’s poem. Which I thought about after my initial reaction to the work. It’s my favorite and I literally sat in front of this piece for like 15 minutes. I am easily amused, but it was interesting because of all the works I’ve seen so far, that is the only one that really made me want to sit and flow with the piece. I could have sat there all day I think.

 

So other than my reaction of Frost, I should probably talk about my initial reaction, which will probably seem silly. I really like fantasy and magic and to just lose myself in make believe. When I entered that side room I seriously thought it was magic coming out of a top hat. Maybe it’s my love of shiny things or my inner child, I don’t know, but I for a minute really did believe that. As far as I’m concerned that ‘Fountain’ is a legit fountain of magic and wonder. I was suddenly in every sci-fi/fantasy book that I’ve ever read and I was the focus. It made me smile and take my mind off the loneliness in yesterday’s post. So. This is a thank you from me to Len Lye for his Fountain.

 

Like I mentioned earlier, there were only two floors open at the Whitney, and one of them wasn’t even a floor. It was a room. The artist was Yayoi Kusama and it was basically a room with a 6foot plank in it that was surrounded by water and all the walls, floor, and ceiling were made of mirrors. Colored lights were hung in the room. The reflection between the water and lights and mirrors took me on my second magic journey of the day. This one only lasted a minute, but it was so worth it.

The piece is called Fireflies on Water and it really does seem like you’re on the water surrounded by little multi colored lightning bugs. It’s really beautiful, and if it was allowed I wouldn’t have minded staying in there either. I just kind of spun around in a circle and smiled. Even though we really didn’t get to see much in this museum, these two pieces made it worth it to me. This was definitely one of my favorite afternoons filled with special magical journeys just for me. 

Yayoi Kusama, Fireflies on the Water, 2002  2003.322a-tttttttt    

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What’s in a Museum?

Museums. We’ve already been to a few of them, and we’ll keep going for the next two weeks. While clearly the goal in a museum is to see the art and/or history, I’ve found myself thinking about what else a museum means—what is its purpose? I’ve also discussed this with colleagues lately—how does a museum capture not only art but also the memory and history of people, places, eras? Why do people insist on taking photographs in museums to capture their memories? (Strange questions to ask when I’m writing and posting photos as part of an “arts” trip.)

Still, if I return to Auden and my earlier questions about a moral and modern American society, how do museums function in this society? Are they useful because they offer the public a way-in to “high” art? Is spending two-four hours on a whirlwind tour of a 6 -floor museum really a “way-in”? Are we just consuming art to say we did so—that we had that experience? And, anyway, as Auden and the others at February House were asking, what is the function of art?

I’m sure I can’t answer these questions, but I do know that there is something artificial about the museum experience. For a minute or two—as throngs of camera-snapping visitors scuttle by and around me—I almost forget that I’m viewing something incredible. I’m certainly in favor of bringing art to the people because I detest most high/low cultural divides (except maybe in literature and food, and even then I want all folks to experience all the stuff I know is better); generally these divides are created to shut people out—maybe even shut people out of a means to power. While I want art brought to the masses, I also don’t want it to become meaningless like the mass-produced prints and posters I see in the shops and on the street fronts. Just because we’re selling something, does it have to be meaningless?

But maybe here’s the American moral clause: any little anything can be art here in America, even if it’s for sale, even if it’s not in a museum. As an individual, I get to choose what I view as art. So, if a mass-produced poster of a masterpiece bought at an overcrowded museum makes me happy, so be it. I’m sure I’ve created a unique meaning from that poster and that experience. Right?

Will sitting on that clam shell really increase your experience?

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