Sunday, January 29, 2017

Baltimore Museum of Art Class Trip

Italian, 1883 - 1966

Dancer at Pigalle's 
Oil and sequins on sculpted gesso on artist's canvasboard

French, 1867 - 1947

Breakfast in the Garden
Oil on canvas

1859 - 1935

Snowstorm, Madison Square, c. 1890
Oil on canvas

This last painting is my favorite.  Childe Hassam makes Madison Square Garden look like a peaceful winter wonderland, when anyone who has ever visited New York City knows that this is not always the case.  New York City is the city that never sleeps, but this painting tells a much different story.  Up close, I can see all the tiny brush strokes he uses to create a soft, blurred image of the city and all the snow pouring down from the sky.  I like the neutral colors he uses such as gray, beige, cream, navy, and orange.  His brush strokes are very light and precise on the ground and more smudged in the sky. There are several people and horses in the painting and I can imagine that everyone is strolling around, enjoying the beautiful scenery created by the snow.  This painting speaks to me because I have visited New York City with my family during the winter, especially around the holidays, and it always seems so magical to me.  Hassam captures this magic in his painting.  I also like all the little details such as the branches on the trees, the tower in the background, and the tall light posts.   

Monday, January 23, 2017

My Reaction to "Visibility" by Italo Calvino

I really enjoyed reading "Visibility" by Italo Calvino because I agree with his understanding of the imagination and how different people can develop different thoughts and ideas.  Calvino basically goes back and forth between whether the image that is imagined is creating through seeing written text or certain situations stimulate the visual imagination and then these images are written down later in some logical form.  Based on Starobinski's two modes of thought, he asks himself whether he personally views imagination as an instrument of knowledge or as an identification with the world soul.  He ultimately decides that he would be closer to the identification with the world soul.  I really liked Calvino's statement that "The imagination is a kind of electronic machine that takes account of all possible combinations and chooses the ones that are appropriate to a particular purpose, or are simply the most interesting, pleasing, or amusing."  I could not agree with this statement more.  I feel like when we were younger and were asked to be creative and complete an art project, we were less concerned with creating a piece of art that would please the teacher and ultimately receive a good grade.  We were most genuinely concerned with creating a piece of art that made us happy to look at and that stemmed directly from our imagination or partially from what we had encountered through television shows or advertisements and wanted to replicate.  Calvino fears that our generation as well as later generations will have a really difficult time accessing the imagination because we are exposed to so many images starting at such a young age that there leaves little room to generate new images from the imagination.  I definitely agree that asking our generation or later generations to develop original thoughts, ideas, or images will be extremely difficult because we have the Internet and other sources of media constantly within our reach.  Another section that really caught my attention was when Calvino was discussing how learning how to read was actually a disadvantage for him because he used to develop his own meaning of the stories through the various pictures on the pages.  I share a similar experience to Calvino because I used to have a vivid imagination and would use my imagination when looking at the pictures in my school books, which also resulted in me not learning how to read until much later than other students.  I used to love Tomie dePaola's "Strega Nona" and would essentially create my own story through the pictures.  The imagination is such an important thing that should be considered when deciding how to education young people.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

My Reaction to "The Whole Ball of Wax" by Jerry Salz

In his article, "The Whole Ball of Wax," Jerry Saltz claims that "Art is an energy source that helps make change possible."  He explains that art is just as important as other classes that are taught in schools, such as science and politics, but does not receive the credit it deserves in changing the world.  Personally, I have never viewed art as an essential component of my education or in my development as a productive member of society because my high school as well as my university only requires students to take one art class over the course of four years.  Saltz states that "Art is not optional; it is necessary," and after some thought, I believe that his theory is undeniably true.  I remember taking art class every day throughout grade school and middle school and as a shy, quiet, and extremely awkward child, I was able to express myself through my art.  By creating individual works of art from scratch and analyzing or admiring the artwork of other classmates or established artists around the world, students can unleash their creativity and imagination as well as develop critical-thinking skills and an appreciation for other cultures and ideas.  In the grand scheme of things, art provides a connection between societies and people all around the world because each piece of artwork tells a story about the artist's background, beliefs, environment, etc. and those who view the artist's work can either share the same perspective as the artist or develop an entirely new meaning that relates to their own life.  The great thing about art is that it can mean different things to you at different points in your life.  When I was little, I always used to look at paintings by Thomas Kinkade and think that the tiny cottages and woodland creatures were so pretty and I imagined that fairies and other magical things would exist in those paintings and now when I look at Thomas Kinkade's work, I appreciate his skill and the way he makes the scenery appear so calm and peaceful, like nothing bad could ever happen in the world he creates in his paintings.  I completely agree with Oscar Wilde's view that "The moment you think you understand a work of art it's dead for you," because art never has a definitive meaning.  As the world changes, the way people interpret certain pieces of artwork also changes, which is a remarkable thing because other generations can experience art and create their own purpose and inspiration.