Posted by: shannonp11 | December 22, 2015

Night at the Museum: Monday, 16th November, 2015

While I do enjoy the solitude of roaming a museum gallery alone, taking time to stop and ponder each work, there is something about conversing about art that the solitude of browsing alone cannot rival. I always love when courses incorporate art museum visits; I find it incredibly useful to examine works of art in person, having the experience to not only experience their likenesses in a text book or on a computer screen but in really like. The art museum visit on Monday, November 16th surely did not disappoint.

Upon arrival we all gathered in the lobby, where we were soon met by Ellen and Kendra. After a brief introduction and summary of what was to be accomplished, we made our way into the gallery. To be honest, I was quite surprised at the first piece we were given. Titled The Wonderfulness of Downtown and created by Jane Hammond, the work was quite large and depicted a partial map of New York City. Straight away, we launched into a discussion of the composition of the piece, noting the almost impressionistic swirl of the water, the distortion that the conflicting perspectives presented, the inclusion of the figure in the bottom right corner, the crisscrossing lines that ran across the work. However, the aspect that the class as a whole continued to return to was the inclusion of photographs. Across the map, Hammond included snap shots, images that implied the quick, portable quality of a disposable camera. Each image ranged in content, depicting both well known views of New York City to specific, less “picturesque” views.

Upon arrival we all gathered in the lobby, where we were soon met by Ellen and Kendra. After a brief introduction and summary of what was to be accomplished, we made our way into the gallery. To be honest, I was quite surprised at the first piece we were given. Titled The Wonderfulness of Downtown and created by Jane Hammond, the work was quite large and depicted a partial map of New York City. Straight away, we launched into a discussion of the composition of the piece, noting the almost impressionistic swirl of the water, the distortion that the conflicting perspectives presented, the inclusion of the figure in the bottom right corner, the crisscrossing lines that ran across the work. However, the aspect that the class as a whole continued to return to was the inclusion of photographs. Across the map, Hammond included snap shots, images that implied the quick, portable quality of a disposable camera. Each image ranged in content, depicting both well known views of New York City to specific, less “picturesque” views.

After an engaging and in my opinion quite successful discussion about possible meanings behind this particular depiction of a well-known city, we all split off into smaller groups. In our respective groups, we discussed a selection of images that had been pre-selected. I was excited to sit down with these works, to discuss them in a smaller group setting; I also found it enjoyable to discuss the works with people that I had not really had to talk to up until that point in the semester.

Two photographs in particular that our group was given were entitled Wife of the Victim by Weegee and [Lineup photograph, Philadelphia Police Department]. The photograph of the lineup in particular reminded my group members and I of class discussions we had pertaining to the use of photography in service of the documenting criminals as well as early attempts to categorize appearance in terms of likeliness of criminal behavior. The photograph by Weegee on the other hand seemed to evoke notions of the ways in which photography can distort the real. At first glance, my fellow group members and I had trouble deciphering what was taking place in the seen, whether the woman in the seen was being dragged away by the police officers or aided by them.

Once we had spent some time discussing the works within our own groups, we reconvened to share our discoveries with the rest of the class. Amongst the other works were No World, from the series An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters by Kara Walker, another work by Jane Hammond titled Four Ways to Blue, Ur-Mutter #2, from the series Ur-Mutter by Adrian Piper, and Iridescence of life #13 by Binh Danh.

I was glad to see a piece by Kara Walker amongst the group; I had received an introduction to her work through a history course I had taken sophomore year and always enjoy revisiting the compelling images. I was also quite taken by the piece by Binh Danh, a piece I had never seen before. I found it fascinating how the artist chose to print the image of the young woman onto a leaf, imbuing a sense of returning to the natural world on the part of the subject.

Once our discussion drew to a close, the class shuffled out of the gallery, still abuzz with our recent collective discussion. After a few closing remarks, we all departed for the night. Even though this night was quite a while ago at this point, I’ve carried insights I gained during this visit with me throughout the semester.


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