Yesterday I posted about all the places we went on Natalya, Robin, Vivien and my art posse day in NY. This is a deeper look into a few of our stops.
Museum of Art and Design
Multiple Exposures. I wasn’t sure what to expect in this exhibit of photography and jewelry, but it was surprisingly inspirational, not to mention beautiful. No photos were allowed, but they did have a selfie booth with which we had way too much fun.
In addition to contemporary jewelry and body adornment which incorporated photography in a wide variety of ways, there were also historic pieces which I found intriguing and inspiring. There was a grouping of photographs of a single eye, supposedly that of an absent loved one, which I could see informing some of my work, as well as Trench Jewelry made from found bits of armory and other metals. Some things were weird and wonderful, some beautiful, some gross, and some surprising. Overall, it was quite inspiring.
RE:Collection. I took photos for my own note-taking purposes, so they are pretty poor, but just for a taste of the exhibit, I’ll share them. This exhibit was subdivided by theme. I was very attracted to the collection of political and socially minded works. That’s similar to what I’m exploring in my own work so it’s no surprise.
This is “21 Countries” by Stephen Dixon. Each plate represents a country where the US has had military intervention. I didn’t completely understand why plates, or much of the imagery, but I really liked the layering of images, color, and line. Robin, I think, mentioned that layering might be the trademark of our era. Thinking of sampling in music, I think she could be right.
I don’t remember the title of this necklace by Boris Bally, but it might be “Brave.” Given what I’ve been working on recently, it struck a chord.
A detail from a work by Jennifer Trask. I REALLY like the way she makes creepy beautiful. So many inspiring things to see. We just soaked it all up!
The Hudson Guild had another exhibit we enjoyed. Urban Fabric’s creator Lix Kueneke embroidered city maps on fabric and then invited the city’s inhabitants to stitch on the maps in response to several questions, such as “what is the heart of the city?” and “what is a negative place in the city.” It was interesting to see that in some cities, the loves, hates, and interesting bits were scattered overall, and in other cities, they were clustered in specific spots. The maps are beautiful in an of themselves, but the viewers’ responses on them add a wonderful depth. Even the backs of the embroideries are intriguing.
The Sugar Baby
On Sunday, Natalya took me to see Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety” at the Domino Sugar Factory. It is worth reading up on this because of all the layers of meaning she has imbued it with. I can’t remember where I first heard about it, but I was excited when Natalya posted her visit on Instagram and then suggested we could return to see it on my NY weekend. I have admired Walker’s paper cut imagery for years, so this was particularly interesting to me. Artsy has a nice page with a range of Walker’s work too.
The sugar factory is about to be demolished, and as a send off Walker had the opportunity to create a very site specific work. The centerpiece is an enormous, and I mean enormous, Sugar sphinx. She is powerful from the front and subjugated from the back, and completely dominates one end of the building.
She is attended by life-sized molasses boys that glow when the light catches them just right.
All around is a disintegrating, syrupy, sweet mess. It’s makes quite an impact. I would love to see cities and private entities take an interest in engendering more provocative, public, and site specific art like this. It is a gift to the community and anyone fortunate enough to visit.
I had never heard of street artist Swoon before about a week ago, but heard an interview on public radio about her junk rafts being installed in an exhibit. The interview intrigued me, but I didn’t really take note of when or where the exhibit was. Natalya had heard about it as well and, knowing it was at the Brooklyn Museum, suggested we go look. Oh wow, was it breathtaking!
Another site specific work, the installation centers around a huge fabric tree that extends all the way up to the rotunda and blooms with lacy paper cutouts that cast delicate shadows on the walls.
The cutouts extend all the way to the floor and extend out as graphic water swirling around the boats.
The rafts themselves are made of junk and found materials. They are fantastic vessels which, like all of Swoon’s work, are a deft combination of rough and refined.
And the best part? She can draw! The combination of loose and tight, rough and refined, decay and growth, and plain old fine craftsmanship left me standing in awe. I studied each larger than life woodblock portrait hoping to soak up some of Swoon’s skill by osmosis. Amazing, amazing, amazing.
An inspiration-filled weekend like this begs for follow-through. We talked a lot about what we were seeing, what spoke to each of us and why, what our own goals and hopes are, how the exhibits might inform our work, where to go next, how to emulate those we admire, and on and on. More on my thoughts tomorrow.