December 3, 2008

Gallery Visit

Hindsight is Always 20/20
What Do You Say America?
Emily Hanson

I chose to visit both the “Hindsight is Always 20/20� and “What Do You Say America?� exhibitions at the Weisman Art Museum here on campus for my gallery visit. The “hindsight� exhibit was a chronological series of prints by R. Luke DuBois that were comprised of key words from each of the forty-one presidential State of the Union Addresses. The words that were chosen from each address were chosen based on their uniqueness to each president and were placed in a fashion that mimicked an eye chart. “What Do You Say America�, located directly next to the DuBois exhibit, was a compilation of about twenty or more propaganda posters that were prevalent during both World War I, and World War II. Each of the prints involved depictions of different war time issues, very bold writing, catchy slogans and bold colors.

The hindsight exhibit, which opened here during the Republican Convention, was a showing of one individual artists work centered around strong political themes and was meant to make commentary on each of the presidential reigns. Each of the works were very uniform in execution, and while at first glance appear to be very simple, are in fact extremely well researched, thought out, and helped guide the audience through DuBois’ insightful reflection on presidential history and political issues. I felt as though DuBois did a very good job bringing initially stark and monotonous images to life, because as the audience gets a chance to read through each of the prints they are put into a different time and place in history. “What Do You Say America?� also does a fantastic job placing the audience in a different time and place through the showcasing of many different works of many different artists. This exhibit centered around political issues as well, and seemed to be a very strong pairing with the “hindsight� exhibit, though it focused in on only one specific time period in history. It gave a good sense of the uncertainty, strong political agendas, and need for unity amongst Americas during the two world wars through the instillation of well selected pieces from the times. The work of these two artists remind me of the work by Nan Golden and William Kentridge that we discussed in class as both of these artists work with narrations and illustrations that reflect past issues.

One piece in particular that struck me during my visit was a piece from the “What Do You Say America?� exhibit. The piece was an illustration on a government issued WWII propaganda poster that depicted American soldiers rushing around in a large vehicle with commentary reading, “They’ve got more important places to go than you. Save rubber. Check your tires�. I felt that all of the posters in this exhibit depicted the disparity of the times, but this one in particular really illustrated the nations call and need for unity. It reminds us that during that time people were asked more than ever to put the collective over the individual, that people were encouraged to think about the greater good and what they could to for the cause rather than what others could do for them. I thought that the artist, only known as Richards, really captured the theme of the times.

After I looked at the posters from the World Wars I found it interesting to go back to the DuBois exhibit and view the piece that stemmed from that time, which was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s State of the Union. I found that the words in this piece correlated extremely well with the illustrations and commentary from the neighboring exhibit, and really helped make a greater impact on the overall experience for me. FDR was president from 1933 to 1945, during the height of the war time efforts, and the words that were highlighted from his piece included; NAZI, MANPOWER, TOOLS, MACHINES, SONS, CHILD, RELIGION, TANKS, LIBERATION, SUCCEED, GERMANS, FIGHT, OBJECTIVES, ALLIES, GOALS, PEACE, UNITY- and many more.

I found that after viewing and comparing the neighboring exhibits that all of the pieces worked really well in conjunction with each other. The different propaganda posters, which included my personal favorite pieces, were great narratives as well as textual pieces. The “Hindsight� exhibit was overall a really strong series as a whole, but if you do not like reading I would suggest visiting the neighboring exhibit as well. I would certainly recommend these exhibits to others, especially because of the strong political time that we are currently in, but I would say that it would not hurt to have an interest in politics and political history if you are going to view them. Overall, both were very strong exhibits- I enjoyed my visit very much.

November 25, 2008

Artist Research; William Kentridge

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