Three weeks ago I read in the course guide that we were required to attend the Cindy Sherman exhibit at the City Gallery Wellington. I typically think of exhibits as uninteresting. I pictured myself with a group of my peers standing in front of various art works, not really looking at them, just giving the illusion of analyzing the art.
On the day we were to attend the exhibit I found myself standing outside the gallery with my class, wearing a blue band that granted me all day access to the gallery. I made a decision before entering that I was going to try and let myself really experience an art exhibit for the first time.
I walked straight into the enormous mural showcasing a multitude of different characters being represented by Cindy Sherman. This main room was full of other students and visitors all trying to get intimate with the photographs as well as attempt to digitally capture a sole image of the photograph without any outside interference. I knew with the crowdedness I would not have an adequate amount of time to analyze the mural. In Isaac Kaplan’s blog he writes about how generally as a whole we are not looking at works of art long to fully experience the work and for it all to be consumed thoughtfully (Kaplan).
I was intrigued when out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of a ridiculous photograph of what appeared to be a clown, followed by a storm of color from the room to the left of the mural. The explanation of Art the Clowns series revealed to me that Sherman created it after the 9/11 attacks. The clowns’ expressions represent the various emotions felt by everyone. These photographs ignited a memory of me leaving school early that day and my mother anxiously waiting for a phone call from New York, for my father to tell us that he was safe. The exhibit elicited a surprising amount of emotions from me as well as a new connection between the visual art and the outside world.
After the exhibit I thought of the introduction from the Mirzoeff book as well as the reading by Michael Clarke and their discussion of visual culture. Mirzoeff explains that how through social media and technology, we have altered our idea of visual culture (Mirzoeff, 13). Because I was able to personally experience the gallery I know that I would have had a much different reaction to the exhibit if I ‘d looked up the images online. Clarke recognizes that an interpretation is never simple and can never be conclusive (Clarke, 26). Someone will presumably interpret the Clowns series and its representation differently than I do.
Reflecting on these past three weeks since the course began I have a new perspective on how art and design can play an important role in my life, and my connection to the visual world. I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of the semester holds for this class.
Photograph taken by Michelle Davey (myself) is part of the Clown series in Cindy Sherman exhibit at the City Gallery Wellington. I thought that this photograph most accurately showcased the many emotions felt by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Everyone reacts to tragedy in his or her own way.
Mirzoeff, Nicholas. How to see the world. Great Britain: Pelican, 2015. Print.
Kaplan, Isaac. “Https://Www.Artsy.Net/Article/Artsy-Editorial-Long-Work-Art-It”. Artsy Editorial. N.p., 2017. Print.
Clarke, Michael. “Language and Meaning.” Verbalising the Visual: Translating Art and Design into Words. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Publishing, 2007. 20-27. Print.