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December 3, 2008

Hindsight is Always 20/20 accompanied by What do you Say, America?

Many shows have come through Minneapolis and made their way into the Weisman museum on campus. Most recently an exhibit by the name of Hindsight is Always 20/20 was available for viewing. This was accompanied by another exhibit named What do you Say, America?. Hindsight consisted of work done by one artist named R. Luke DuBois. He displayed 43 pieces; one for each of our presidents up to George Walker Bush. The exhibit was arranged in a particular fashion, starting with George Washington and ending with George Walker Bush. This order was in the exact order of when the men came into presidency. As for What do you Say, America?, it was supplied to accompany Hindsight. It was a collection of posters from WWI and WWII that the Weisman had already. These posters did not seem to be in any particular order, but they all were very forceful and to the point. This exhibit was a collection of many different artists.
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For Hindsight, R. Luke DuBois’work is a collection of pieces which include words in the form of an eye test. As the words go down they page they become smaller and smaller. These words were not just any random words; they were chosen directly from the State of the Union addresses presented by the past presidents of our country. Words that were unique were put on the poster, while words such as united or states were left out. The biggest word at the top of the page seemed to be the flashiest word. They were all different, but some examples of what could be seen was terror, or fear, or communism. For What do you Say, America?, most of the posters seemed to be influenced by WWII. There was talk of rationing food, and making sure not to talk carelessly incase it carried to enemy ears. These were all very prominent themes throughout the posters, and these themes were shown bluntly through this use of propaganda. It was an in your face way to show people how to do things the “right way? or how to be patriotic.

Out of the two exhibits, I was able to find a favorite piece in both of them. My favorite work in the Hindsight exhibit was the most current, Which was the representation of George Walker Bush. The big pronounced word on his was terror. It went on the talk about the Iraq war, and Iraqis and what we are going to do about this “problem?. Reading just the little tidbits of it now after seeing what our country, and other countries, have been put through makes me wonder why we stood behind him while he said this all in the beginning. I believe this is a thought that the author wanted us to have, to allow us to skip past the big words and pretty façade to get to the true hard facts of what was said.
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My favorite piece in What do you Say, America? was a piece by Victor Keppler titled Wanted! For Murder which was made in 1944. It displayed a woman in a wanted-type poster because she had carelessly talked. This careless talk led to the death of US soldiers because it traveled to the ears of an enemy. This was a big thought during the world wars, and it displays the thought that we could not trust anyone. That is a darkening thought and I am sure that is what the author might have wanted to portray. It was every man and woman for themselves.


I believe these were very interesting exhibits to see. They complemented each other very well. It was perfect timing for it to be displayed at the Weisman because of the election we just had. It would be very informative to see what other presidents have said during their address, and then to see what our new president elect Barack Obama says during his. I would recommend this to people because it is definitely a new way to view our government. At first when I walked in I was confused, but the artist statement and definition of what the work portrays allows you to see it in a different light, which helped immensely.

December 2, 2008

India: Public Places, Private Spaces

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India: Public Places, Private Spaces is the featured exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. This exhibit displays the work of 28 artists who provide an insight into the contemporary psyche of Indians. Over 100 photographs and video art are showcased, allowing the viewer to gain insight to contemporary Indian artists’ view on topics such as India’s economic and political shift, caste systems, and the flip of cultural traditions. It was arranged by artist and by the different issues of modern-day India mixing photography and video art in the same space.

The theme of this exhibit is the exploration of the multiple dynamics that have shaped the current Indian psyche as viewed through the lens of the artist, which aims to interpret and influence. The works on display vary from photojournalism, for example a series of photos by Raghu Rai depict the death and funeral of India’s Prime Minister, Indira Ghandi, to photo manipulation that express the artists feelings and display very personal narratives.

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The work of Pushpamala N, entitled “Phantom Lady or Kismet,? is a series of photographs that draw from familiar Indian iconography and structures found in Bollywood. The high contrast noir vignettes create a dramatic narrative, which reflect character archetypes found in Indian cinema. In fact what Pushpamala is doing is drafting commentary on popular Indian culture by dressing up as a Zorro clad heroine, this critiques popular culture while respecting historic visual art represented in photos and movies. The dramatic lighting style mimics competence found in Indian visual design and offers a wider comment on the media’s portrayal of female heroes.

India: Public Places, Private Spaces invites the viewers inside India and narrates a story of a transforming country where the people reexamine cultural traditions, sexuality, caste systems, and politics. I would recommend going to see this exhibit.

November 26, 2008

Research on Ablade Glover

Research on Ablade Glover
by Albert Obeng

Dr. Ablade Glover is a native of Ghana; he is a teacher and a painter whose works have been exhibited widely worldwide. Professor Glover was the Dean of Art at the University of Science and Technology (Kumasi, Ghana) for 27 years. Dr. Glover talks about how the lack of some of the bare necessities of life in a third world country such as Ghana can aid in contemporary art losing its currency. He claims he uses his paintings to alleviate this isolation and connect the artists to the wider Ghanaian audience.
Dr. Glover has a unique and instantly recognizable style, working in oils on canvas concentrating on market places and townscapes in Ghana.
The rich, colorful culture of the Ghanaian community which is mostly overshadowed by the hardships in the country is what Dr. Glover tries to portray in his paintings. I believe he wants people to see past these hardships and appreciate the richness in the Ghanaian culture as well as the beauty that lies within the struggle.
I will compare Dr. Glover’s work to that of Nan Goldin. Nan Goldin captures her life through a lens, and in a sense her capturing all her photo memoirs of herself became an extension of her self. Dr. Glover also uses his paintings to capture what he sees about his country and culture that others might fail to see. He uses his paintings to communicate his views about his country to the outside world. Same ways Nan Goldin also uses her pictures to communicate with her audience, in some aspects she even felt much comfortable using that as a medium of communication. Nan Goldin sees herself as the defender of the real and unaltered with the pictures she takes. I believe that in
Dr. Glover’s paintings it also portrays the unaltered version of the country Ghana irrespective of it being branded a third world. He sees beauty unrefined.
I would definitely tell a friend to check out his exhibition. I believe Dr. Glover’s paintings will give one the opportunity to appreciate Ghana by its rich cultural beauty without bias of the media.

Head Count by ABLADE Glover

Market Colors by ABLADE Glover

Mother Sweet Ooh
References
Brenson, Michael. “Review/Art; Contemporary Works From Africa.? 19 Jan. 1990.
The New York Times. 25 Oct. 2008. .
Glover, Ablade. 2008. October Gallery. 25 Oct. 2008 .


Chuck Close

Lauren Carpenter

The artist Chuck Close describes himself as a nervous wreck, an inconsiderate slob and not to mention he claims to be “poor white trash from the state of Washington.? However, by looking at his paintings one would never guess his slob-like nature. Close works with painting, photography, and printmaking in a style that has been classified as Photorealism. He takes photos of himself, other fellow artists, and family members. Afterward, he enlarges the prints only to break it down into a grid pattern, and then reconstructs the image very meticulously, painting grid by grid. Big Self-Portrait was his first portrait painted in 1968 that took four months to complete due to his attention in detail. He is intrigued by a photographs ability to show things in and out of focus and to paint the photo with the same exactness. In 1998, Close suffered from a spinal blood clot that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Determined to continue doing what he loved with the help of a specialized brace and assistants, Close began painting again. His portraits had a different aura to them. This ambiance could be explained as celebratory,
Close simply suggests it was because he was so happy to be able to get back to work; his work became freer and livelier by exploring and expanding his color palette. His paintings are a canvas of mini paintings that make up a whole image from a distance.


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His portraits encourage the viewer to analyze the face and create their own interpretation or story of what that person is feeling. Close only uses his family, friends, and other artists as subjects in his work; he says, “Inspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work.?


Continue reading "Chuck Close" »

Laura Owens

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During the era of 1990s, many Las Angeles artists had found this period as one of the most challenging periods in history. Many artists were struggling to make their best achievement out of their works. However to Laura Owens who is a painter in Las Angeles found this era as the era of her success. While many artists were struggling to make an achievement, Owens’ works has become to be one of the most recognized works of the entire contemporary. Many of her works have been accepted for museum collection including the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Guggenheim Museum in Chicago. Her works are often time involved with landscapes, interiors, figures, animals, and abstractions. Owens’ works present in variety of canvas sizes, it depends on how much details she wants to express to the viewers. She commonly works with oil paint and sometimes her works come with a mixture of watercolor, collage, acrylic, ink, enamel, and marker as each of these medias allows her to high light every little details more explicitly.

Continue reading "Laura Owens" »

November 22, 2008

Artist Kara Walker

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One of Kara Walker’s earliest memories consists of her sitting on her father’s lap watching him draw. She was around the age of three and at that moment she decided that she wanted to be like her father; an artist. Kara was born in Stockton, California but at the age of 13 she moved to the south with her family. Her father, artist Larry Walker, was offered a teaching position at Georgia State University. Kara attended the Atlanta College of Art where she received her BFA, and then got her MFA at the Rhode Island School of Art. She has many accomplishments including being the youngest recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s “genius? grant, representing the United States in the Sao Paulo Biennial in Brazil, and having her first full scale US museum survey at the Walker Art Institute. Currently she resides in New York and is a professor of visual arts at Columbia University. Her signature artwork consists of cut-paper silhouettes. She uses this technique because she sees it as being cartoonish, which in turn allows her to elaborate on racial stereotypes that are reductions of humans. She went to school for drawing and printmaking, but in through her years she has used almost every media possible. She has dabbled in painting, written text, light projection, and video as well as performance. The theme that comes across most in her work is the representation of race. Her silhouettes are all made from black paper which eliminates the need to create skin tones and this allows for all of her characters to be seen as “black?. She also wants to portray history in a different form. Her characters have exaggerated features which make them cartoonish, and in doing so she adds some humor to the dense subject matter of racism, or power.

Kara Walker’s main inspiration is the pre-civil war south. Her art work depicts this time in a skewed fashion. She has been quoted saying,

“The work is two parts research, and one part paranoid hysteria."
This thought is what makes her art so interesting. She is able to portray history in her own unique way that makes it interesting again to the viewers. She is both trying to entertain and inform us. The past is something that did happen, and it cannot be forgotten. She shows us the past in an interesting way through the use of cut-paper silhouettes. She uses these silhouettes because she believes it is a very middle-class form of art. It has been traced back to the 18th century when it was used to make shadow portraits, which eventually lost their prestige. It was labeled as more of a craft then an art form. Kara has made this medium her own which is what propelled her to be the artist that she is today.

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One artist that is easy to compare and contrast to Kara Walker is Liz Miller. They both use simple shapes in interesting and unique ways. Their work plays tricks on our eyes to allow us to see something that we might not have seen at first glance. A major difference is the use of color in Liz’s work. She uses bright and alluring colors, while Kara sticks to strictly black. They are both interesting in their own way, and I do not believe one’s work is better then the others. Their subject matter is quite different as well. Liz said that she deals with systems, such as weather radar, while Kara touches on more intimate subjects such as race and power. Both of these artists set out to create something unique out of something simple.

If I were to talk to a friend about Kara Walker, I would say that her work is definitely something to be interested in. I became interested in her last year when I viewed her work at the Walker Art Center. She occupied a whole room with an installation specific for that site. It was unbelievable how well it flowed together. The images were provocative, while still being comfortable to look at. Interest is never lost while looking at her work because no matter how many times the work is seen, there always seems to be something new in the shadows. She is a creative woman, and it is wonderful that she is able to share her work with us at such a large scale.

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Resources:

http://learn.walkerart.org/karawalker?n=Main.HomePage
Walker Art Center website

Kara Walker: My Complement, My Oppressor, My Enemy, My Love
An exhibition catalog by Yasmil Raymond

http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/walker/index.html
Art:21 website