Saturday, January 28, 2017

Three Pieces from the BMA

The Crown of Flowers By: Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
These three pieces from the Baltimore Museum of Art stood out to me because even though they were all portraying women using oils on canvas each artist's individual style made each piece very different.

Purple Robe and Anemones by Henri Matisse
Woman with Bangs by Pablo Picasso
My favorite of the three is Woman with Bangs by Pablo Picasso. First, I like how the shades of blue as the dominant colors of the painting, immediately influences the overall tone of the piece. In addition, having the woman's complexion and clothes composed of blues and greens makes her appear to be matching the background. This color choice looks almost as if she is blending into the background. Regardless of her blue and green complexion, her expression alone is powerful. Her eyes are a bit asymmetric making her gaze appear glazed over or zoning out. One eyeball appears to be gazing upward and the other downward. In addition, her heavy eyelids add to her overall unimpressed/bored/depressed expression. Lastly, having her lips be muted shades of red instead of blue or green makes the viewer immediately focus onto that part of her face. Her lips' shape is particularly expressive adding to her overall look of dissatisfaction.

Two other components that I enjoyed and added to the mood of this piece was where the woman was placed in the picture and her shadow. Her body is in the lower right instead of the center of the piece making her appear smaller and more vulnerable. In addition, by positioning her in this way makes it seem like the viewer is looking at a private moment. Additionally, her shadow almost seems like another figure behind her. Lastly, I like the title of the piece because instead of commenting on her mood, Picasso chose to focus on a seemingly minute detail of the piece: her bangs. Overall I really liked this painting because of the subject's expressive facial expression, artist's powerful color choice, and general composition of the piece.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Response to "Visibility"

What is the imagination? The author Italo Calvino paraphrases Dante's description saying that imagination "steal[s] us away from the outer world and carr[ies] us off into the inner one, so that even if a thousand trumpets were to sound we would not hear them" (82). I strongly agree with this description of imagination as I can recollect countless times when I too was completely consumed by own mind's imaginary world.
In addition, I like how Calvino states "fantasy is a place where it rains" (81). After reading that sentence, I took it literally and began to imagine this fantasy land where our imaginations reside subjected to continuous downpour. After continuing to read Calvino's description of Dante's Purgatorio where he states "images rain down from the heavens-that is, God sends them to him" I realized how the "rain" is a metaphor (81). Though I don't see imagination as having a divine connection, I like this imagery of actual images coming down into one's mind.
Before reading this, I had never thought of different types of imagination. Calvino describes two different types of imagination. One "starts with word and arrives at the visual image" and the other "starts with the visual image and arrives at its verbal expression" (83). Calvino describes the first as what occurs while reading. For example, when we read the words blue cat driving a car 500 mph down the freeway, our imagination fills our thoughts with images or an almost silent movie of a cat speeding down a highway. I found it especially interesting when Calvino describes the movie making process as being a product of the first type of imagination. Calvino states that a film and "the image we see on the screen has also passed through the stage of a written text" (83). Continuing with the idea of cinema, for the second kind of imagination an audience watching one of the Pixar short films is watching images and allowing their imaginations to fill in the films with verbal meanings to describe the film. The below links are to two Pixar short films I thought of when I read Calvino's description of the two kinds of imagination.
Pixar Short Film Geri's Game
Pixar Short Film: La Luna
All in all, imagination is much more complex than I had initially thought and "Visibility" helped me realize that it has been an idea explored since historical times.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Julio Fine Art Gallery Event: Senior Projects

Part of Thread For Thought By Elena Damon
On Friday, I attended the Julio Fine Art Gallery event where the Loyola seniors displayed their projects. The exhibition had interesting and beautiful pieces, but two particular pieces really stood out to me. The first being Thread for Thought by Elena Damon. In her description of the piece, Elena discusses how people's outward appearances do not necessarily portray their emotions and thought processes. Personally, I am very interested in people's thoughts and feelings that they do not express, which added to my interest in this piece. In each portrait Elena added the embroidery to represent the individual's inner thoughts and consciousness. The shape of the embroidered string gives each portrait an aura that appears to the viewer as their mind working. I especially liked how Elena made the people black and white, but the string colored. The strong contrast in colors made the difference in their outward appearance and inner self stand out more. In addition, having their inner consciousness colored exemplifies the idea that the neutral look an individual may have is not necessarily indicative of their actual thoughts and feelings.
The second piece that stood out to me was a series of paintings titled White Noise by Maggie Powell expressing different people's reactions to the same piece of music. In her description of her piece Maggie discusses the unique effect music has on each person who experiences it. In creating this piece, Maggie observed and photographed different individuals listening to the same music. Then she created a series of paintings one being pictured below. In addition, as part her exhibit Maggie provided the qr code to play music. The painting pictured below stood out the most to me because Maggie perfectly captured the man's response to hearing the music. His facial expression is complex and effective at conveying emotion. In addition, by having his gaze averted it makes the viewer feel like they are witnessing a private moment of him hearing the music. Though these two pieces stood out to me the most, all of the senior projects were a range of interesting styles and very unique pieces.
Part of White Noise Series by Maggie Powell

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"The Whole Ball of Wax" Response

The article, “The Whole Ball of Wax” discusses the power of art and explores the question if it possesses the ability to “change the world”. The article’s author, Jerry Saltz states that art itself cannot directly change problems in the world such as global warming or AIDs. Instead, working with other things art can help change problems such as these. This is because as Saltz states “art is part of a universal force”. Therefore, since it is a part of this equation art is a required element. This way of thinking is not shared by everyone however. According to the article, there are some people who view art as “purely formal amusement”. Thinking in this mindset, art is viewed as something very simple lacking the power to make real changes in the world.
Personally, this viewpoint is very different from my own. I agree with the idea that art is a part of something bigger. According to Lawrence Weschler, Antonio Cassese, while being a jurist and hearing the Yugoslav war crimes, would go look at the Girl With a Pearl Earring and View of Delft. He did this because according to him the paintings “were ‘invented to heal pain’”.
Lastly, the article talks about how “art can be ‘a vacation from the self”’. This is applicable to Gerber’s experience with the plastic furniture following the 9/11 attacks. In this situation, art was acting almost therapeutic for Gerber. I feel this way about Kathë Kollwitz’s work. I remember the first time I saw her Women with Dead Child, and seeing a woman grieving and dealing with loss in turn helped me deal with my own grief at the time.