Looking with fresh eyes: A New Endeavor

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.

cindy sherman 11

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.

 

Works Cited:

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.

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Linking Cindy Sherman

 

The first image is one from Cindy Sherman’s Clowns series in the City Gallery. I appreciate this photograph in particular because of all the psychedelic, melting colors that are used to create sort of a “down the rabbit hole” type of feeling. The three clown faces, all expressing different emotions immediately reminded me of the film Killer Klowns from Outer Space. This film has over the top creatures and is always thrilling to watch. It coincides with the quote from the Cindy Sherman lecture: “Through her skillful masquerade, she has created an astonishing body of work that amuses, titillates, disturbs and shocks. The background in this photograph is dissipating away just as the World Trade Center did. This photograph to me shows that we as humans feel an infinite array of emotions and that they can shift from one to another in a split second and that in the face of tragedy we all react differently.

The type of art that really interests me and captures my attention is art that isn’t obvious. Art that makes you think and re-think. I love art that is out of the ordinary. Anything that stimulates the mind. Cindy Sherman does a great job of this, especially with her Clowns series. Her art communicates to me that while she is completely aware of what she is doing and what she wants to say, she lets the audience find their own meaning within the madness. She does this by not putting descriptions under a lot of her photographs and simply leaving them Untitled #…

Reflecting Cindy Sherman

The moment that I saw the clown double photograph that I previously described in “Experiencing Cindy Sherman” was the most significant experience that I had throughout the whole exhibit. Before that moment I was mindlessly wandering through the gallery just taking pictures, not really reading the descriptions or looking for a deeper meaning behind the photographs.

After going back and reading the description on the wall about why Sherman created her Clowns series and what it represented, it touched me even more. These were her first creations after the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. The clowns through their body language and facial expressions convey all of the different emotions that were felt by this tragedy. The photograph resonated with me even more because even though I was young, I remember that day very well because my Father was in New York at the time. I remember being pulled out of school early and my Mom frantically calling my Father until he answered and assured her that he was safe. It took him four days to rent a car and drive back to our home in Texas due to no planes flying in or out.

After my experience with those peculiarly wonderful clowns I walked around a fresh pair of eyes and a new perspective. I began to really look at the photographs and compare them to what I thought Cindy Sherman was trying to portray. I wanted to take my time going through the rest of the rooms and even found myself in the upstairs library area listening to a tape of Sherman talk about all of her galleries her process and influence for her creations. This experience showed me that even though my coming there was for a school assignment doesn’t mean that it can’t be an enlightening, enjoyable experience. It gave me more of an appreciation for artwork and how a simple picture can say an endless amount of things and have a much greater influence than I initially thought. I enjoyed the gallery much more than I initially thought I would and look forward to returning soon.

Experiencing Cindy Sherman

I am in the main gallery room when you first walk into the exhibit with the the mural that stretches from floor to ceiling with a multitude of different characters all being portrayed by Cindy Sherman. The first room is the most crowded and I am not able to analyze the mural as closely as I would like as well as take the proper photographs.

I move on to the second room in the exhibit and am immediately intrigued. Every corner of the room is full of dark, fantastic caricatures of clowns. I am halfway through this gallery when one photograph caused me to stop and do a double take. It is a double photograph of a two clowns. They are in two separate frames facing away from each other. The clown on the left appears to be distraught and gazing off into the distance. He is holding a balloon animal and the makeup on its face make it appear as if he is crying. It is not clear if the clown on the right is a man or a woman. It appears to me as if it s a man playing a woman. He is sitting defiantly with its arms crossed and eyes closed. His makeup makes his mouth form into one straight, un-smiling line.

This specific photograph caught my eye because it is one of the only double portraits that I saw throughout the whole gallery. More importantly, this photograph made me want to know the background story of these bizarre characters. It elicited an emotion of empathy for the clown on the left and curiosity as to what the other clown was so resistant to.

cindy sherman 13

How to See the World: Introduction

The author, Nicholas Mirzoeff, begins the book by recounting how many people believed that seeing the image of “Blue Marble” significantly changed their lives. That they were finally able to see the world as a whole and because of this they were all linked to one another.

Later on in the introduction Mirzoeff talks about how in 2012 another photograph of the world was produced. This “Blue Marble” seems as if it was taken from one place in space like the original was, but this is not accurate. The image was composed of many different pictures of the earth from different angles and assembled to look as if was just one. Mirzoeff says, “It is a good metaphor of how we see the world visualized today. We assemble a world from pieces, assuming that what we see is both coherent and equivalent to reality. Until we discover it is not” (Mirzoeff, 10).

Mirzoeff goes on to explain the concept of visual culture and the mental model that we all create based off of what we previously know to be true. The world of social media and more evolved media outlets over the years has altered this concept of social media. “The difference between the concept of visual culture in 1990 and the one we have today is the difference between seeing something in a specific viewing space, such as a museum or a cinema, and in the image-dominated network society” (Mirzoeff, 13).

The introduction to this book was intriguing and I am anxious to learn more and to continue moving forward in this class.

Works Cited: Mirzoeff, Nicholas. How to see the world. Great Britain: Pelican, 2015. Print.

Alex Grey

hands-that-see

Alex Grey is known for his art installations and visionary art. This painting is entitled “HANDS THAT SEE.” This artwork is a favorite of mine because it reminds me of a scene from the movie Pan’s Labyrinth. Alex Grey along with his wife Allyson Grey opened a contemporary chapel in New York called “Chapel of Sacred Mirrors”  based on his art book. COSM contains 21 life-sized original paintings by Grey. The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors offers full moon ceremonies, solstice and equinox celebrations, workshops and spiritual cultural offerings. I have attended one of the many events that are offered at this magical, enriching place. I intend to go back as often.

Image cited Works Cited

Android Jones

android-jones

This is an original piece by Android Jones titled “Wanderer Awake.” This image was started on New Years Eve, December 31st of 2008 and completed at dawn on January 1, 2009. He drew this image on the beach of Bahia Brazil at the Universo Parallelo Festival. On his website he states: “The hummingbird and the eagle were both spirits that I had become introduced to and aligned with during my ceremonial Ayahuasca experiences that I had in 2008. This was the kind of image that wanted to come through me and almost felt like it painted itself as I worked on it all through the night until sunrise. And then the Sun finally rose over the horizon and I incorporated it into the image.”

Jones is known for his psychedelic art as well as his visual live performances. I had the opportunity to see him live mix his visuals at the Bassnectar NYE 360. I hope to own one of his artworks one day as well as see more of it live at Burning Man music festival.

Works Cited