Thursday, November 18, 2010

and I thought i didn't like modern art

I didn't intend for this blog to turn into some big discussion (albeit, with myself) but I guess since this was created for the purpose of recording current issues, occurances, etc etc in my life that I feel okay writing about something so self indulgent, as a way to better remember and make sense of the things I am learning. To make them appropriate to my life.

So. I love Jackson Pollock's work. I was initially enchanted I suppose back in 2005 when I took Art Appreciation at University of Nebraska and we watched the movie Pollock. Yeah, it's embellished, liberally, and might not be exactly representative of his process or what have you, but nevertheless, the struggle, the pyschology, the pain felt his his work and life was something perhaps I could sympathize with and could identify with. Maybe I saw his work (as Kahlo's) as opportunities for me--I didn't know at the time what those opportunities were but now I'm starting to see, through knowing the contexts and backgrounds of these artists, that these opportunities translate to understanding and being better able to be a contributing member of humanity. By seeing pain and having the courage to show it, in whatever form, might be a way for us to have those opportunities to help.

This semester, I've been a little bummed about the art we've learned about. Last semester I was positively moved by the work of Byzantine art and Renaissance work. Maybe because it was largely Christian which was congruently inhancing my growing involvement back into a church. So, as art moved away from worship to more a worship of man and vanity, I felt the stories behind the works to be...dull. I briefly was excited by the ideas that propelled certain modern movements (the focus on formal elements of a painting rather than the content--but I feel this can be taken too far), but nothing seemed that ground-breaking, meaningful, and substantial--maybe i feel this is what art should strive to be. Reaching towards some type of truth (maybe the truth that there are nontruths--is there such a thing? you know, like rejecting truth--which is a very real thing in the world. because in rejecting truth, i feel experience follows that shows the effects of feeling that there is no truth) Surprisingly to myself, I started to enjoy discussions about surrealism. I hate Dali's work--maybe just his painting technique and style but I find the reasons behind surrealism to be real, important, and something crucial for human experience. (Besides, before Seth and I were dating (way before) he would ask me to write dream poetry--that is, write as I was just drifting into sleep--this I have learned in Art History III is a type of Automatism!)

So Jackson Pollack, who is an abstract expressionist who was influenced by surrealism (psychology), is all the more important to me. I feel it's kind of a cop out for me to say that I love his work, because as someone who cannot render well, I feel its self indulgent of me to justify my work by respecting someone who had, for the most part, nothing figurative about his works. They were, in a way, just about the formal aspects of PAINT. BUT there is the other side of it. I learned today that his therapist suggested that he paint as a way to heal. And I feel its evident that there is struggle in his work. That's why I immediately feel uncomfortable or sad or overwhelmed by looking at his mural sized works. I'm not saying that pain is beautiful, but that a person is willing to share that pain into something that transcends words and pictures to something that is a guttural feeling of shared deep experience is something crucial to living. To healing. To being able to heal ourselves so we can in turn help others. Professor Fenton mentioned Pollock's footprints on the canvas, his temporary house paints used, and the fact that he wasn't interested in making lasting art (say, like the Greeks) but I take this as knowing our place as dust. The struggle that comes with that realization and what the hell to make of ourselves after that discovery. (that's my own take...maybe too much) Lastly, Fenton pointed out that being from Wyoming, Pollock was exposed to Navajo Sand Paintings. The nature of these paintings were temporary, being that the art was in the making of the painting, that the wind would blow it away after completion, or it would be deliberately destroyed. These paintings were for healing. The sick would sit in the middle while the "healer" created the art around the sick. Pollock, it can be inferred, was acting as both the sick and the healer. I think that's so profound. That's what I'm trying to do. Maybe that's why I get choked up by Gary's photo slide presentations, or when Dave says artists are the most normal humans on the planet.

We're struggling to understand and while trying to understand (this existence) we are able to make the decision as to how to live (good or bad). Art of all types, I hope, records these experiences of growth, discovery, and experience itself. Or not, because that is a valid option, too. (i say valid, not right or good).

Maybe this makes no sense. Sometimes it's really hard for me to know what art is for, but I am suddenly inspired and needed to write it down. Messy and maybe incoherent, but maybe there's some truth in here.

Anyways, it's time to go to photo (last class before break, thank God!). I am working on my final, and speaking of self indulgence, we are assigned to have a self portrait and supporting works to tell something about ourselves. Here's what I'm working on.

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