Sunday, December 27, 2009

Visual Scripture

How often do scriptures cause us to visualize something in our minds? Stories, people, places, things... all the time, right?? In fact, once you take out the ubiquitous "And it came to pass"'s, you'll see that our holy writ is pretty much stuffed full of amazing visual ideas and symbols. This is one of my favorite features of the scriptures. Somewhere, (you are about to see how much of a scriptorian I am NOT) it says that God speaks to his children at their level of understanding, wherever that is. I feel like he also speaks to us through all of our senses! In addition to the heart and mind, God speaks to our ears, our sense of touch (baptism by immersion, the warm hug you offer to friends in their trials), our sense of taste (sacrament emblems and visiting teaching cookies :), smell (cookies again :) and last but not least, our sight! There are a few vivid "visuals" that I count as my favorite in the scriptures. These visuals, some symbolic and some literal, I imagine again and again, and they never fail to affect me. I'm going to set a couple of them before you, and not offer any art historical dissections. Scriptures sure can stand on their own. That's one of the many reasons why I know they are not a construct of man alone. (I can't resist, however, including a few select illustrations of these scriptures' ideas. The following scattered images are the nearest that reality and the internet come to resembling the truths of these verses, at least as I imagine them. :)

D and C 84: 82-84 For, consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin; and the kingdoms of the world, in all their glory, are not arrayed like one of these.

For your Father, who is in heaven, knoweth that you have need of all these things. Therefore, let the morrow take thought for the things of itself.

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 49: 15-16 Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.

1st Nephi 11: 8, 33 (Lehi and Nephi's Vision) I looked and beheld a tree... and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow.

I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God.

This scripture is perhaps my favorite of all these; it comes into my mind all the time when I'm studying the stories and images of the Savior. I'm on an eternal hunt for images that really strike me as looking like Him. It was told to me once that I would recognize the Savior if I saw him before me, which was a sweet thing to be told. It's kind of cool to me to think that somewhere in the back of my subconscious mind I know what Jesus Christ looks like. BYO Illustration to this one :)

Isaiah 53: 2-3, 5 He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New and Good Things

I have half of a post about Manet's The Railway written... but I am seriously struggling to not use high-faluting art theory when I write about it. So it's on hold for yet another week... my mind just can't pare it down yet. (Trust me, it's better this way. It's currently a really boring, watered-down version of my 26-page final Historiography paper. And NOBODY, myself included, should ever have to revisit that ugly monster). 

Instead, I want to talk about the experience of being home. I've thought about what it means to be home at least 10x a day, starting probably three weeks ago. At first, while in the throes of the miserablest round of finals ever, being home was just the chance to escape, to let my mind stop churning. Visions of watching tv, sleeping, and not having to use any more confounded multisyllabic words danced in my head.

Then, I realized that being home represented a major change, or at least a significant mile-marker, in my DC life. With the close of the semester, I said good-bye to a few good friends who will not be returning East with me next year. I also realized, kind of for the first time, that many of my bestest friends in the West have joined the march of the marrieds this past year, and thus can't come out and play with me like old times. But it's ok. We are meant to grow and learn and adventure in this life, and I am so proud of my friends for the bold steps forward they take.

Being home at this time, the end of 2009, means the close of an incredible and unique year. EASILY the fastest 365 days of my life. I have skipped through an internship at the Smithsonian, a round of unemployment, a summer as an underpaid lifeguard, and a fall as a first-year art history grad student. A lot of the time, I hardly noticed how quick and brilliant these days were. In 2009, I have changed, and changed directions, wildly... and I hope for the best. Being home for Christmas means a brief moment to stop and contemplate these amazing opportunities. It also means a chance to express my gratitude for the "back-east" friends I have out there, who make the cold and the distance and the obnoxious DC materialism/professionalism so worth it (special shout-out to Marissa, Jenni, Maggie, and Dani, my East Coast blog buddies :)

Finally, being home allows me to re-learn the wonderful, slightly cheesy but very true lesson: that friends who love each other are never far apart at heart. It doesn't matter that I only got to see my parents four times this year; when I came home, it's as if I never left! Magic! I've changed, it's true, but they love my changes, or at least they'll want to gab about the changes. :) DC '09 taught me that your heart will ALWAYS expand to fit whenever you find something new to care about. Miraculously, none of the older things in there have to be kicked out. What a glorious gift that is, to be able to grow in love, and never be bounded. There are always new people to serve, to laugh with, to explore, and to love. That must be why Heavenly Father's work and glory is to bring about the eternal life of his children. He's really figured it out: the best thing in life is to love as many little humans as possible, and thus keep one's heart growing.

I read over my 2008 journal this morning. Apparently, on Thursday, November 6th, I felt I had the greatest day of my life. Here is a selection of that entry, so you can see why:

"I worked more, kept busy, shared my friendship bread, went and gabbed with Dani at her desk at the Wilk, and walked home in the beautifully brisk air. And on that walk home... Milena, the Director of Public Programs at the Hirshhorn Museum in DC called me to set up an appointment for a phone interview... then we just decided to interview right then. She told me all about the kinds of things I'd be doing, and as we talked, I felt this unbelievable sense that I could not have ASKED for a better internship, one more suited to my current educational, professional, or social needs :) Heavenly Father LOVES me! I started screaming and jumping afterwards, and called the wonderful parents who support me. Mom cried she felt it was so right, so perfect.

"I have officially changed my life plan today- gonna go down a road in January I never dreamed of. It feels incredible, and very right. Ah faith. Bless it. Oh, and I listened to the great art critic Michael Fried give a lecture on High Modernism and Minimalism at the MoA tonight. I felt completely at home there. I belong in that big, beautiful world. I'm SO Happy. PS Milena was SO pleasant to talk to. I'm really looking forward to working with her. PPS Jessica is sad for me to go... and that's why I choose her as my best friend."

I've learned, taught, explored, loved, been accepted to and attended one brutal semester of grad school since January. Frankly, it has worn me out to skin and bones, and I am happily at home in order to recoup and fatten up. Next year's resolution, among several, is to find better balance between all of these things. While in DC a friend really alerted me to the value of balance; I have the nerdy tendency of focusing too closely on my art world (well... once in a while :). I've got a lot to see of life yet, and many people to love and serve.  I am extremely grateful to know that I have a Savior whom I might lean upon as I try to gain strength and accomplish great things. I am so happy to be home for Christmas, so that I might celebrate His birth with those I love. And I am ridiculously excited for the new and good things to come. Merry Christmas all.

Me at the Vegas Bowl last night- BYU vs. Oregon State. I LOVE that the Momo crowd causes the beer signs to be turned off and the hot chocolate ones to be haphazardly created.

Me and Spence after rushing the field. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO COLD! But notice the score in the upper right hand side- Cougs 44, Beavers 20! Just baaaaaarely worth it. :)

PS Please excuse the gushyness of this post. "I just have a lot of feelings." What movie?? Haha

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Finals are Over.

Courtesy of a Google image search for "grief."

 I don't even want to talk about it. It was that awful. Grad school is not for the faint of heart.

On the other hand............. I'm going back to New York and then onto Vegas this week! Oh happy day! So happy I'm actually enjoying listening to this:

Merry Christmas. :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Yellow and Blue

"Besides, I don't even like the colors green and red together. The summer colors, Yellow, Green, and Blue are SO much prettier to look at!"

- That was one line of an argument I submitted to someone this weekend about why I'm Grinchy. When you spend entire weeks and eventually entire years of your life looking at pigments and daubs and brushstrokes of colors, you start to get a feel of what is attractive to you optically. I've got my optical allurements down pat: Blacks and whites over browns, always. Jewel tones over pastels.  Contrasting colors will always catch my eye better than well-behaved, blended, harmonious colors. Grey is in fact my favorite color, because of the peculiar power it has to make every other color that it is laid down next to just POP. I love contrast all the way around, which is probably the reason I am so obsessed with the painter Gene Davis, see his picture above. Full of contrasts- each color is laid next to another that will make its edges shimmer.  In short, I like my colors to convey action, daring, boldness, and honesty. It can be argued that even my color tastes convey a sense of my summer-obsession (wow. That sentence reads like something straight out of one of my research papers. Meh. I'm leaving it in.). Winter you just sit around in the house looking at the murky mix of brown, green, and red. Bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeh.

Pretty as they might have been, you may have noticed when you first arrived on this blog today that I took down the post-colonial ballerinas from the top of my blog and replaced them with blue, which has then, as is customary, been overlaid by my favorite bright yellow title. I feel right at home with this arrangement.

Guess what? There's an art story to go with the above blue. A good story. This blue has a name: IKb, pronounced "ick-Bee" (which also happens to be the name of a beta fish residing on the GW Art History Dept's front desk). IKb, which stands for International Klein Blue, was invented last century.  Yes, that's right. The color was invented by the French artist Yves Klein (well, no, it was invented by chemists, under Klein's supervision. Then he humbly named it after himself.) Yves Klein is an interesting character in the history of modern art, and his IKblue stands as one of his most crowning achievements. In fact, if I had to put money on what art history books fifty years from now will still say about him, I would bet that he's going down for his use of IKb. This IKb color is made of a pigment suspended in a chemical so that there's pretty much NO reflection coming off a canvas covered in it. Looking at his monochrome blue paintings is like looking at velvet, or the sky, or something. You know how velvet just looks... deeper and shadowy-er than other materials? Yea. Very cool effect. Not reproducible on a computer, but the above was a fairly decent approximation.

One of the most vivid memories I took away from my modern art class at BYU, the first upper-level art history class I ever took, was my Professor Magleby showing us pictures of Yves Klein at work and then announcing, "And here we have Yves Klein, I can't stand him. Such a misogynist. Moving on..." and then we moved on to someone else.

Kind of shocking, you'd think, for a teacher to dismiss someone currently deemed very important to the arc of art history! (The Hirshhorn, in fact, has a giant retrospective of Yves Klein's career coming up I think next year). But when I tell you that the picture Magleby had put up was a picture of Yves Klein, dressed in a tux complete with white gloves, standing over a white-paper-covered floor and ordering around nude women covered in IKb (all done in front of an audience), you may understand. Bleeeeeeeeh.

Nevertheless, like I said, interesting character, which makes for a historically resilient artist. Klein had lots of crazy post-modern ideas about art. He started with these "anthropomorphisms": the paintings of naked people's imprints on canvases (sometimes he'd do these himself... so I guess he can't be labeled a complete jerk). Sometimes Klein would paint with certain chemicals on specially prepared surfaces and then set the whole thing on fire, just to see how the paints changed (see left image,
Untitled fire color painting, 1962, Charred dry pigment in synthetic resin with metallic paint on asbestos-coated paper on board, from the MOMA collection). Klein also did lots of photomontages where it looks like he's leaping off buildings or doing other crazy feats. He had interests in Judo, Oriental philosophy, and the hereafter. In addition, he was probably a total misogynist; the whole ordering women around was a conceptual stunt meant to show off that artists in the sixties, in the now, didn't even NEED to touch the canvas to be considered artists anymore. Whatever, dude. Happy that his time has passed. But he did leave an imprint (I joke!) and a color behind him, a pretty summery color, so he has earned this tiny mention on my blog. And now, it's finals week, and I am putting the finishing touches on my massive essay about Manet. After I have recovered a few of my currently-comatose brain cells, I'll tell you about The Railway. Next time. :) Have a great week everyone!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Down with Chipmunks!

I'm gonna pull another Hermione and start a club for a very underrepresented portion of society. You may now address me as Lindsey, the President of SPARCL: The Society for the Protection of Anxiety-Ridden Christmas Listeners.

The following was going to be my Facebook status for this week, but it was too long to fit, so I'm shuffling it over to the blog, because I feel this is a VERY important minority opinion that too few appreciate:

Lindsey Ann C_________ is one of those Grinches who HATES listening to Christmas music before the 22nd of December. Before you protest, check it: Christmas is a two-day holiday stretched into a month-and-a-half long music and marketing marathon... and y'all know it. Now, I certainly believe in the reason for the season, but I'd rather focus musically on him on his birthday, and maybe on the eve of his birthday, by singing hymns around a piano with loved ones. I'd rather not be subjected to Mariah and Archuletta and the Chipmunks warbling about nothing but cheer for weeks beforehand.The same fifteen songs get remixed over and over again by a galaxy of pop stars hoping to turn another million dollar iTunes profit, and it is TORTURE for us Grinches! Have mercy on us! The radios on my bus started playing carols on the 20th of freaking November this year, for crying out loud!!! I had to take midterms with Paul McCartney's truly galling "Wonderful Christmastime" rolling around in my brain!!! November 20th is far enough back into autumn territory to turn anyone into a Grinch, if they hadn't been already. I have a life. And other emotions to stoke via my music selection. Thank you. PS this rant is not directed at you, cheery Christmas lovers. I hope you know that. It's at the marketing machine and the retailers who tricked us all into thinking nothing except "Snow+Buy presents" since November 20th.

Oh man she's cute. Replace the bulb she's holding with this one and you'll get a perfect illustration of how I feel right now:
Well, insert "Music" underneath "Christmas" right here^ aaaaand there you go. Welcome to my world. It's not such a bad place, you know. It has a lot of different music playing all the time. Very enjoyable.

Auntie J, I promise the story behind Manet's The Railway is coming soon. And it will not be what you expect. Get excited!

Monday, November 23, 2009

This is the first Ben Shahn painting I ever saw... Always loved it.

They totally have little personalities, don't they??

Happy Thanksgiving! And while we're at it, Happy Black Friday, to all my cart-pushing, credit-card-swiping, shopaholic friends. :) I'll be in New York City and New Jersey this weekend, living the life. Adios.

..... NOT adios. My mom caught me- I did indeed once replicate the artwork above, in color, for an art class. The assignment was to combine the painting techniques of two different artists into a single, original work. I decided to combine the blackboard-like scratchy lines and vivid colors of Paul Klee's The Golden Fish, 1925 (at left) with the delightful little anthropomorphic carts depicted by Ben Shahn in Supermarket, 1950 (aka the one above. Like I said, loved it at first sight). Welcome to pretty much my only foray into the art world:

Lindsey C_______. The Golden Shopping Cart. 2007. Oil on paper.

Monday, November 16, 2009


That's quite the loaded title, huh? I guess I've always known I would have to unpack my thoughts about that subject (slash methodology) sometime, and, for several reasons you are about to understand, today is that day. The writer's fire is burning me up, and it's burning pink. :)

I am not a feminist. Not really. It feels so wrong to write that down, but it's important to start off there. This morning, when I glanced at the mobile I have hanging in my room-- a little contraption of coat hangers, string, photos, and postcards I collected on my European study abroad-- a strange pattern jumped out at me. Of the ten pictures I've got spinning around in little orbits, seven of them feature women. 70%. I had seven women gazing out at me this morning. I hung them there two years ago upon my return from my glorious art history study abroad in Europe. Obviously, though I might not have been cognizant of it, the idea of womanhood meant something to me.

Johannes Vermeer, Girl with Pearl Earring

Matthias Grunewald, The Concert of Angels and The Nativity

Sandro Botticelli, Venus and Mars

Nicolas de Stael, Portrait d'Anne (Can you see her in there??)

Postcard of Marie Antionette from Versailles

Photo of the sculptor Camille Claudel, who has one of the most tragic and epic stories in all of art history- I fell in love with her story way back in my freshman Humanities class.

Alfred Stevens, Mary Magdalene

I'm refraining from completing the second half of my post about Manet's The Railway this week in order to talk about feminism. Tiny juicy piece of gossip, though: the model Manet uses in The Railway (the model of the older girl) was a famous mid-19th-century socialite and prostitute named Victorine Meurant. She also happened to be the mistress of Alfred Stevens, who painted the hauntingly beautiful picture of Mary Magdalene above. Fun connections!!!

If you caught me offguard and asked me my opinion about feminists, I'd no doubt respond in the same tongue-in-cheek way that the Marxist art historian T. J. Clark did: to me, they're "shrill" characters. And sometimes I think their energy is mis-focused and borders on greed,

Then... if you prod me further, and make me think about it, I'll remember and admit that my field, art history, actually owes a huge debt to feminists. Their work, their determination, changed the way we look at art. They pointed out to the unconscious public that it set WAAAAAY too much store in artwork made by "geniuses," who all turned out to be men. White, rich men that all knew each other. (Tangent: in my opinion, genius is not even a real trait. You've got skill, both inborn and developed, and then there's usually luck involved... and showmanship and business acumen and pure passion and tenacity. THOSE things are responsible for the world's great art. Not some mystically-instilled germ of genius that infects only a sliver of the population. Such a notion is purely the construct of a romanticized history.)

Feminists were the first people to point out that there are other things, other people with unique stories, that are worth studying. What about the daughter of an artist who was denied the ability to study like men but managed to slip her art into her father's fray anyways? (Her name was Artemisia Gentileschi). What about slaves who did not have access to training or museum collections at all, but focused their creative energy and skills on quilt-making, the only media they had at their disposal?

Feminists were the first group of intellectuals to call attention to the fact that our society carries a viral amount of institutional biases. They highlighted very interesting flaws in academia's working vocabulary and tools of analysis. The landmark feminist art text is titled Old Mistresses... which in and of itself points out an immediate, unfortunate difference in society's perception of the two genders. How far the gap is between "Old Master" and "Old Mistress"!! Do you see what they're driving at yet? :) If you get nothing else from feminism, let it be this lesson: there's so much more out there to see and do and understand and appreciate than society and history currently advocates!

But I've been talking about feminism in art history. Feminism in general is an overarching study of how being female impacts your life and the world, and I can't think of a time in history where there is a bigger need for such research. Everything vital to our gender is currently under intense scrutiny and even assault by the world at large: Family structure. Integrity. Chastity. Lady-like grace (see every image of Lindsay Lohan ever published for bad examples). Love. Safety. Independence. Motherhood.

The main reason for this post today was my discovery that my alma mater, Brigham Young University, is severely cutting back (and potentially disbanding) its Women's Research Institute. By doing so, as a colleague on facebook noted, my school is essentially confirming the institutional bias that Accounting and MFHD are the only true lifepaths worth pursuing. PSH. I'm really disappointed with BYU for this decision (although I'm sure there are at least a few legit reasons for it, including lack of budget, interest, and/or qualified professors.) But I can't help but think of the times I've succeeded at that school, how good I felt when I worked hard, and how many girls all over the world lack that same feeling of confidence and hope. I have always been so proud of my school for their international educational focus, for the seriousness with which the faculty and staff takes the mandate to bring light to the world. (There's a link to petition for you to sign if you agree with me at the bottom of this post, in the pink box).

I don't judge or hate men for doing what they're doing, and I firmly believe that gender, and gender differences, are God-given and should be celebrated. Most importantly, I feel that the best and purest achievements of humanity only come when all the disparate parts of our race-- the different sexes, education levels, ethnicities, languages, interests, temperaments, etc.-- work together, something even the field of feminism, colorful though it may be, is very, very right about advocating. (Ps Baby-making! The perfect example of us working togeter to achieve great things! hee hee hee :) People only find their deepest, most satisfying peace when honestly, diligently pursuing the path God has laid out for them. I am grateful for that knowledge, though it comes with great responsibility.
I want to close with a story, one I wish BYU understood better. This is the story of one of the most aha! moments of my entire internship at the Hirshhorn. It is within this story that I hope you will see the need for the research and ideas that organizations like the Women's Research Institute puts forward:

I participated in a 6-week training course to be an Interpretive Guide while at the Hirshhorn (remember how I used to stroll the galleries 12 hours a week and talk to strangers about the art? Yea. That.) Me, four other college students, four older (aka age 55-75) long-time docents (all women, and all hilarious!), and two full-time education staffers all congregated every Monday to discuss the Louise Bourgeois exhibition, and the different methodologies we could use to encourage people to think about her art. The most interesting conversation we as a group ever had, hands down, was when we looked at Louise Bourgeois' art through feminism. The conversation turned to feminism itself, and it was soon discovered that all five of the younger participants were reluctant to claim any adherence to feminism as a belief system. Like I said, it's shrill.

The older ladies were AGHAST. They truly could not believe we eschewed advocacy for womens' rights. "You don't understand," explained the eldest docent, "when I was a newly divorced mother I had to undergo birth control and pregnancy tests before they would even consider me for my house loan!!!" (Can you believe that?? Such an appalling invasion of privacy!!) It was such an interesting dynamic in that classroom; a really tense atmosphere for quite a while, as us the young and they the old poked and prodded each others' stands regarding activism, propriety, and womanhood. Eventually I could see the other ladies start to form this contemptuous assumption in their minds: "Oh. They aren't feminists yet because they haven't NEEDED to be."

I decided to be the brave young one to attempt a reconciliation, especially since the topic was veering towards a veneration of Roe v. Wade as the supreme moment of liberation and triumph for feminism, something I disagree with. "You know," I started, "I think there are various types of feminism today, and our younger generation works within those, without realizing it. I can totally recognize that we build upon the achievements of your generation and we are so thankful for that! I belong to the largest women's organization in the world, and it's called the Relief Society, it's part of my church. Its members meet together weekly all over the world to teach one another about family skills and avoiding domestic abuse. It's also where we make friends and celebrate God, who loves his daughters." Silence reigned for a few seconds. I couldn't believe I'd just said that. I usually let my religion lie low in my art circles, because Mormonism has way too many stereotypes that I don't like people judging me by (it's always a fun moment when art friends find out I'm Mormon LATER, after getting to know ME. I can see their eyes widen as they realize actual Mormons don't conform to stereotypes). Tangent.

The older ladies grudgingly assented to my olive branch of sorts. I swallowed my surprise that the first time I "came out" about my religion was related to feminism of all things. And that moment became the turning point in the day's discussion. Feminism, it was agreed, can analyze and celebrate many different aspects of womanhood. In my final opinion (phew! I've given you a lot today!), its greatest moment of success is when the little people, the regular participants of every-day life, open their minds a little bit and discover their innate ability to stand up for themselves and move forward and do something great, all thanks to that knowledge and confidence they gained from considering gender differences, qualities, and achievements.

This is hilarious, and a fitting final image:

Congrats if you made it through this. You are the few, the brave, the enlightened, and, for lack of a better word, the SEXY!!! Hahahahahaha. Also, it begs to be stated: feminism is not for the ladies alone. I am so appreciative of the many men in my life who take the time to respect women and all the unique things we are capable of. Like I said, we work better when we work together!!

Update: after reading over a lot of the official BYU press releases on this decision, I've come to the conclusion that this move is simply bad taste on the part of the administration, who sees the WRI as a derelict flagship. Time and again they assure the public that funds for research will be more widely available, and I sure hope that will really be the case! Good luck to them.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Check out this bad boy...


Is it weird that I refer to this work in masculine terms when it in fact depicts two females? No, I don't think so. No, I don't understand why I just did that. I just know you may officially refer to "him"-- or it, if you prefer me to be more gender-sensitive-- as Edouard Manet's career-changing painting The Railway (1872-73), located at this moment downtown in the National Gallery of Art, two blocks from my work at the NBM.

Take 30 seconds and spin me a story about this scene. Tell me in a few words your interpretation of what is going on within, according to your eyes. (Pleeeeease!)

I'm not gonna tell you what I know about it this week. I'm more interested in what y'all can come up with. See, this guy is what currently occupies all my time, talents, and thoughts (well, not ALL my thoughts... sometimes I eat. And teach. And do other fun stuff :) He is the subject of my massive historiography paper/presentation and basically my entire final grade rests upon the types of new ideas I can find within its smokey, colorful contours. I am currently busy surveying what all the smart people have to say about it, in aaaaaall the long decades since its creation. Somehow I've got to find something they've missed and expound upon it (sooooo much reading required to do so... I love reading. I love reading, I swear I do!). It continually amazes me how many cool socio-historical facts the big-league art historians can come up with to make you see deeper and deeper into a work like this. It also amazes me just where these professionals have to dig in order to come up with said facts. I have so much to learn about researching.

But in the meantime, we're just gonna enjoy the beauties of a very important work of art, which is an experience we should always start with, anyways! Take another few looks at this amazing work:

Think about it. I sure am.

All I know is, I'm quickly becoming obsessed with Monsieur Manet. SO fabulous. I'll tell you about him soon! Have a great week!

Monday, November 2, 2009

On Being an American Explorer.

Post #50! I just want to point that out. Neat.
Somewhere, some time ago, I read a study that concluded, in more scientific terms than I can remember now, that basically it's no wonder we as a nation suffer from a plague of Attention Deficit Disorder; it's in our blood!!* Just look at our ancestors- the crazy people, three and four centuries ago now, that felt compelled to hop on a ship, cross an ocean believed to have been filled with monsters, land on a coastline whose exact terrain no one had mapped out yet, and start setting up shop in a dangerous, unknown landscape. Yep, I'll bet being an early American Explorer required something like severe ADD in order to cope. What other mental anomaly could seriously get people excited to spend their entire lives in constant surprise, forming a community in a strange land, far away from society as they knew it?? I love imagining how the pilgrims and other 17th, 18th, and 19th century settlers must have felt when every step westward took them further into a realm of new and wild animals, scary natives, trees and mountains and rivers unnamed, and craziest of all- no rules!!!!

How delicious that life must have been. "When I grow up, I want to be an explorer, like the Great Magellan." (What movie??)

I've really been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be an American Explorer, both for pioneers past and adventurers present. I really feel connected to the identity of an explorer; it's something I picked up in my early school years I think. For the first time in my life, I'm waking up to an environment of fall foliage and heading out to work in buildings of historical significance every day! All the history books I have ever read depict pilgrims smack in the middle of an idyllic fall landscape, and I've just realized I reside only a few hours away from the original Jamestown settlement. Thus the attitudes and lifestyle of early American Explorers have definitely held my mind captive lately. I'll spare you my usual bright-eyed and bushy-tailed paragraph about how I am on an adventure and see new things every day and find myself in a state of constant surprise (even though that paragraph would be totally true). Instead I'll show you how, in art, we have a lot of modern-day brothers and sisters who likewise found themselves explorers of the American landscape. Except these artists liked to paint what they saw, not just look around and sigh and take pictures with their digital cameras (like me). Thus they became contributors to the ephemeral, hopefully eternal ideal of Being an American Explorer, which I hope everyone gets a taste of once in a while, if not every day. Because it's our heritage. It is in our blood. And it's a great life to live.

I brought along with me a few images to help get you in the mindset of being an American Explorer. You might not get the connection at first, but just wait. Over the past three weeks, I've seen three particular images in my graduate studies that really resound with the drama and allure of Being an American Explorer. One does so through its artist's story, the other two through their subject matter. First things first:

Ben Shahn. Lithuanian/American. Resources of America Mural at the Bronx General Post Office. 1938. Tempera.

Now, I know the teacher on The Truman Show pulls down her pansy little map of the world and tells us, "Aww, you're too late! There's nothing left to explore!" and I know that many people, myself and Truman included, occasionally fall into the trap of feeling like there's nothing new to discover in our day and age. But it can be done! In fact, it was imperative for Ben Shahn, the artist behind this first image, to be an explorer in order to even come up with the idea behind this mural panel. Mr. Shahn makes for a really devilishly fascinating character study; I just completed a fatty paper on him, so I can't pass up the chance to tell you just a bit more about him. Born in 1898 in Lithuania, Shahn emigrated with his parents to New York City in early childhood (American explorer trait #1- stranger in a strange land). He trained in lithography and other art styles at a trio of art schools in New York, and was actively involved early in his career in the New Deal's WPA program for artists during the Great Depression (American explorer trait #2- get involved in history as it unfolds around you). He flirted with NY communist groups but never really was one of them, saw a mural he worked on with Diego Rivera at Rockefeller Center destroyed for its portrait of Lenin, and most importantly for the above image's sake, Shahn travelled as a documentary photographer for the federal governmentfrom 1932-1937. For five years, his sole assignment was to take pictures of workers in America (like the one at right). Strange lands, strange people, and crazy tough times. That's what he found out there.

This adventure was faaaaar different from anything he had ever seen in his claustrophobic New York world. His travels inspired him during his design process in a mural competition back home in New York. His design for the walls of the Bronx General Post Office featured twelve panels of gargantuan figures doing various distinctly American labors. It won, and it was a very prestigious commission! The mural image above is his depiction of a Southern cotton-picker in that mural program (one of the twelve American laborers). Benevolent Mr. Shahn so loved seeing different people's lives and labors out in the American countryside during his five year stint that he took it upon himself to educate the Bronx public about the big wide world. In mural form. Haha, it didn't work so well- one funny anecdote I came across in my research tells of a Bronxian native asking Shahn why the lady was making snowballs! He responded by telling her what his figure was actually holding, to which she replied, "Oh. I thought that stuff growed on trees."

Nevertheless, Shahn tried. He "went out into the world, and came back in," (what song??) and thus his images, although a little too tawny-toned and generalized for me, still speak a little bit about the artist's amazing journey, and his desire to share with others the marvelous things he encountered during the Great Depression.

And now, image #2 & 3

Cândido Portinari. Brasilian. Discovery of the Lands & Teaching of the Indians. In the Hispanic Reading Room, Library of Congress. 1941. Tempera.

These were from a classmate's presentation, and the way she described these images just really caught my attention. They are by the Brasilian artist Cândido Portinari, who was asked by Washington to design the four large murals in the Hispanic Reading Room at the Library of Congress (which is THE most beautiful building I think I've ever been inside! I need to get some major pictures of that place, it's gorgeous!!!). Portinari drew upon his Latin American heritage for inspiration for this work. He selected as his subject the discovery, exploration, and colonization of America.

Now, these images caught my attention for a few reasons: first, because I pay special attention whenever I hear anything about Latin American art, because it is really gaining strides in the contemporary art scene. Second, because I'm quickly seeing that American mural art owes a LOT to Latin American precedence. This is because Latin American artists-- particularly Mexicans like Diego Rivera and Brasilians like Portinari-- really embraced and enhanced the medium of mural work because of its ability to appeal to their countrymen and convey a sense of heritage, via a distinctly Latino style. Look at these images. You wouldn't say they were made by Italians, would you? You probably wouldn't say they are American, either. They are something else entirely, and that something is Latin American cultural insight and style: the wavy outlines, the patterned surfaces (like the checkered shirt on the center figure in the second image-LOVE!), and the flattened picture plane (notice how the ocean is ABOVE the heads of the central figures in both images- definitely not realistic, huh?). But I'm getting into nerdy, only-interesting-to-art-historians territory here.

The thing that I love most about these images is the almost-innocent view they take on American colonization. For once, neither side of history is demonized--neither the explorers nor the natives. For once, the artist just simply.... looks at the people who were alive in those epochs. By doing so, he shows us what he thinks about Being an American Explorer. Portinari depicts the discovery of the continent from the everyday sailors' point of view, not Columbus'. I liken that to the fact that being an American Explorer doesn't take some superior genius; it can be done through your basic hard work and perseverance. Portinari also chose to depict the Jesuit conversion of the natives to Christianity (second image). He said he believed that that was one of the greatest, most positive events to come out of colonization. American Explorers have historically trusted in the idea that their new world is the handiwork of God, and that they in it are also made by Him. Me likey this idea as well.

Thus concludes my art explique for the moment. It's been such a busy fall season, and I've seen and explored and written so much lately that I don't feel like I can add much more to what I've got. For all those who would like an update on how I myself have recently gone about being an American Explorer, here's a few images I've taken (off Flickr and off my camera... I'll never say which ones are which!). Welcome to the surprising new worlds and new scenes I've stumbled upon lately. Enjoy exploring.

* On a completely unrelated note, at my teacher training at the NBM recently I found out that the socio-psychological powers-that-be have officially stopped using the phrase "Attention-Deficit-Disorder." It officially no longer exists. We have Asperger's and ADHD, but that ADD, that's a thing of the past. I have no idea why, but my guess is a desire to be more politically correct and to discourage the over-diagnosis of ADD that has occurred in the public school system. Haha, I wonder what will happen to the Pilgrim-ADD study now. Is it considered debunked? Bad scholarship? Unimportant? Ah modern academia. Never a dull moment.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Short Lil' Ditty

In the spirit of coming down from my homework hurricane and moving past the crankiness that snuck onto this blog over the last few weeks (I'm sorry friends!), I'm just here this evening to post this soothing little track by Kings of Convenience. I shamelessly ripped it from an art compatriot's blog that I admire/stalk, shhh. Never heard of these Norwegian Indie musicians before, but they really hit the spot at this moment in my life, for three reasons.

1. I'm sitting in my mint-colored art history grad student lounge right at this very moment, and it is my very favorite little nook in GW; you seriously feel like you're in a nerdy VIP room in here. A Xerox machine you can copy stuff on for free! Art history books on every topic imaginable neatly lining the shelves! A TINY FRIDGE AND MICROWAVE! And behind me, perched on a filing cabinet, is the now-familiar bust of some unknown scholar. I have christened him Noah. Noah was lovingly given a fluorescent pink beanie to wear on his head by some mischievous student in years past, and he looks awful. But we let him keep wearing it because sometimes he gets cold and besides, I bet he's one of those crazy annoying philosophers whose writings have now officially made me cry, they're so hard to digest. So keep on regretting your headgear, Noah. We're not letting you go yet. I still love him a little bit, though. I feel like he and this room and this song are all friends now. This song definitely belongs here.

2. I was told I am ice cold earlier this week, and I think it's somehow fate that I came across a song titled "Mrs. Cold" only a day later. Somebody else please write and tell me that person was mistaken :)

3. I'm already brewing my next post, and the above Kings of Convenience album cover foreshadows its topic: Being an Explorer (can something still foreshadow something else if I make it explicit like that? Who knows.)

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I finally understand sculptor Henry Moore!

(*UPDATE: I'm feeling a little bit sheepish now. Consider this post a vent session, which in no way reflects my actual ability to compose art historical writings. "My mom reads this, professor, I swear! It was a humorous sketch for HER alone!!! I'M SORRY I PROFANED THE NAME HENRY MOORE!")

Henry Moore was a prophet. He looked into the future, saw the convoluted mush of Lindsey C_______'s brain this midterm week, then returned to the 20th century with his new inspiration safely stowed away in his memory and chiseled it into marble and wood and stone! Quel genius!

Why no, I don't think it's narcissistic of me to discover in myself his inspiration. The man, this most famous of British Modernist sculptors, was an educator: a professor of art at the Royal College of Art in London (late 1920's-ish). Naturally, he will have had sympathy for and an affinity with students. Probably, he had to suffer through the same types of philosophical readings as I am in order for him to teach modern art correctly (hee hee hee... you all always suspected modern sculpture was just messing with your brain!! Truth be told, the philosophers messed with ours first, and that's how it all got started. Modern art can be seen as the history of intellectual dementia).

Sure, the other phD-toting art historians will tell you hum-drum stories called facts about Henry Moore. They'll tell you "he particularly admired the sculptures of ancient cultures, [and] believed in creating a visual language appropriate to the twentieth century." They'll assertively and persuasively inform you that he used his sculptures to explore and embody abstract concepts like "monumentality" and "surrealist biomorphism." Sure, those art historians might have primary, secondary, and visual sources to back up their claims. But I just feel instinctively that I am right about these jumbles of shapes mirroring the look and feel of my brain right now!!

Later in life, after WWII, Henry Moore switched to a more figurative (translation: more human looking) style. He even dwelt on the theme of family quite a bit (hooray!). This fact is quite in line with my thesis. Just as I will (hopefully) emerge from the devastation of this week's 11-hour-a-day hw sessions with a renewed desire to make myself more figurative and human-looking again, and just as I will redeem a beautiful ticket and go home to Utah and Vegas this weekend and see my family, so Henry Moore sculpted/prophesied my next week in the second half of his career (see later work at right for an example).

I state again, Henry Moore is a prophet. He knew and still knows where my mind is evolving, and put it into physical form. Genius. (Can you tell I'm a bit little cracked right now??)

I'd like to thank and acknowledge Dr. Valerie Fletcher, senior curator at the Hirshhorn, for allowing me to quote her thoughtful investigation* of this important 20th-century sculptor. And I'd also to like to remind you that my opinion is better and cooler :P I'd also like to put up a few other images that I think also accurately illustrate my mental state right now:

These images are courtesy of, Drew Shumway Should Really Stop Complaining So Much (my favorite facebook group that I don't actually belong to), and Google image search. The book I'm reviewing right now is currently trying to convince me that art historical writing is like a spiderweb: "a confusion of umbra and penumbra, a picture whose naturalism is inseparable from its internal coherence."** Hey. Author. YOU'RE a spidery confusion of coherence... trailing off.... mutter.... Ok I have to go back to work. Anyone else want to tell me what visual symbols their minds or hearts or other various appendages of import look like right now? Spencer I know might give me the picture of a blender for his brain, poor guy. Keep up the good work!

*Valerie J. Fletcher. "in depth: Henry Moore." Adapted from The Human Figure Interpreted: Modern Sculpture from the Hirshhorn Museum (1995). accessed 10/11/2009.

** James Elkins. Our Beautiful, Dry, and Distant Texts. Pennsylvania State University Press. University Park: PA. Pg. 225. This really is a good book, even if it's over my head. I emailed the author this week and asked him a question about it, which he responded to promptly and kindly! I felt like a kid who's just gotten a signature from Mickey Mouse at Disneyland.

One more note and then I absolutely HAVE to get back to work [sound of my heels dragging goes HERE]. In my art history class at BYU where we actually had to DO all the different art styles that we would soon be evaluating (awesome class!), the teacher used Henry Moore for our sculpture assignment. We were given rough blocks of alabaster and told to make something out of them that looked organic, or biological. HOURS later, my hands were rough, raw, cracked, and bleeding, and my "sculpture" looked decidedly more like a piece of rock with several edges beveled off. I have a testimony that Henry Moore was the MAN and that this was hard work! The end.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Words I Don't Know, Part II.

It's busy homework season out here in DC/NOVA, I am SUPREMELY cranky today. Not just for homework's sake and the related disappearance of my free time; after an hour-and-a-half wait at this morning, I finally saw an insidious doctor who enjoyed poking my greenish-purplish ankle and asking me whether or not it hurt (could you REALLY not tell from the way I was writhing around?? QUIT POKING ME!), who then gave me the extremely irritating, completely useless, and entirely patronizing advice: "You should have come in when this first happened." Well, duh. Now get on with it, lady. I am currently waiting to hear back whether or not the retarded stumble I performed a couple of weeks ago is actually a fracture (please no please no please no...). Thus, I find myself a little on edge, and a lot out of things to write about. (*Update: NOT broken, THANK HEAVENS! Got a new doctor later in the afternoon, a nice doctor, who looked at it, said, "You've been walking on THAT for TWO weeks? And you're an art history major?? What, do you play rubgy on the side?" She set me up with a nice bulky brace to sport around for the next two weeks, just in time for Bre's wedding!)

So, I have been squirreling away a very special vocabulary for just such a wordless day. Back in February I published a list of words I ran across in my Hirshhorn readings that irritated the crap out of me, because they were so obviously included in their various essay-homes solely for the purpose of communicating to readers juuuuuust how brilliant their writers were. After that particular post, the words didn't stop coming, and I didn't stop noting them down, with vexation and occasional wonder at their odd spellings and contorted, completely unimaginable definitions.

Today I present Part II of my Abject Through Zeitgeist Journey to the Center of Multisyllabic Semantics. There's only 36 this time, and 11 of them are highlighted as spelling errors in wordcheck... but I left the definitions of all of them in this round, because no one should ever have to encounter these fastidious words unaided. Summer Lewis, you word-lover you (is there a "-phile" name for that?), go to town. :) Please note the upswing in percentage of Latin and philosophy words (Theodicy.... yeesh. I like that one, though. Cool meaning). I just can't get away from these maniacal writers, be it at the Smithsonian or in the middle of a graduate reading sesh. Apperception it is.

Adduce: Bring forward; cite as conclusive or pertinent
Alterity: A state of being other
Apodictic: Incontestable because it has been proved demonstrable
Apogee: highest or furthest point, or climax
Apperception: Conscious perception, the process of understanding by which newly observed qualities of an object are related to past experience.
Cathexis: the investment of emotional significance in an activity, object, or idea (cezanne’s wife may have been his erotic cathexis, but he didn’t show it on canvas)
Demur: Make an objection
Demure: characterized by shyness or modesty; reticent; coyly decorous
Dialectic: of the nature of logical discussion
Embolism: the insertion of days, months, or years, in an account of time, to produce regularity; The occlusion of a blood vessel by an embolus. Embolism in the brain often produces sudden unconsciousness and paralysis.
Ersatz: serving as a substitute; synthetic; artificial
Exergue: A space on the reverse of a coin or medal, usually below the central design and often giving the date and place of engraving.
Fecundity- quality of being very fertile
Hermeneutic: pertaining to hermeneutics; interpretative; explanatory.
Idiom: an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements (kick the bucket); the peculiar character or genius of a language (Derrida's version); a distinct style or character in music or art (the idiom of Klee)
Incommensurable: having no common basis, measure, or standard of comparison.
Inimitable: matchless, incapable of being copied
Invagination: a taking within (eeeww... dirty old D. N. Rodowick writing about aesthetics and speech)
Jingoism: Bellicose chauvinism
Oedipal: of or characterized by the Oedipal complex, e.g. a love for one’s opposite-sex parent
Ontological: Studying the nature of existence. Ex: having the existence of the concept of God entail His veritable existence
Parergon: An accessory work performed in addition to one's principle work (e.g. painting frames, sculptural drapery)
Pellucid: allowing the maximum amount of light or clarity; clear in meaning, expression, or style
Picaresque: pertaining to, characteristic of, or characterized by a form of prose fiction, originally developed in Spain, in which the adventures of an engagingly roguish hero are described in a series of usually humorous or satiric episodes that often depict, in realistic detail, the everyday life of the common people
Populism: any of various, often anti-establishment or anti-intellectual political movements or philosophies that offer unorthodox solutions or policies and appeal to the common person rather than according with traditional party or partisan ideologies.
Refractory: hard or impossible to manage; stubbornly disobedient
Reification: to convert into or regard as a concrete thing.
Repugnant: distasteful, offensive, contrary or opposed in nature
Scion: a descendant; a shoot, twig, or cutting
Subsume: to consider something as part of a more comprehensive whole
Tautological: needless repetition of an idea ("widow woman")
Teleological: pertaining to the doctrine that forces move towards self-realization; the evidence of design.
Telos: the end term of a goal-directed process; esp., the Aristotelian final cause.
Tendentious: having or showing a definite tendency, bias, or purpose
Theodicy: A vindication of God's goodness in the face of the existence of evil
Topos: a convention or motif, esp. in a literary work; a rhetorical convention.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Meet Marcus 2, Soapbox Edition

He decided to keep preaching in this week's email to me :) Can you tell he's twenty years old? Gotta love him.

2) As Abraham Lincoln said, and as quoted in the movie Pollyanna (<--Good movie! Buy it! Netflix it! Download it illegally!), "When you look for the bad in mankind, expecting to find it, you surely will."

This is good shtuff. We can always find and pinpoint the flaws in peoples, unless you're Michael Scott and your "weaknesses ARE your strengths." Me personally, I'm not the greatest looking man in the room. If I'm at a party I'm probably the 3rd best looking guy in the room. If I'm walking down the street I'm probably like.......number 9 best looking guy in the street. That's not bad, but it's something people could frown upon me for. (*Lindsey-the-Editor's Note: He's usually number one or two, and he hopes I will write back and correct him. HAHA Done. Love that Marcus-style humility.)

To me, this world would be a LOT better if everyone wasn't so judgmental and self-righteous. Lot more REAL love and kindness would be abundant. It's kind of like an old movie. You can tell in those older family movies, that there's a different "feel": people seemed to get along better, and everyone was more relaxed and didn't have to worry about their iphones, and their facebooks, and the type of shoes they're wearing. Pssh, shoes.... Then again, they are movies. Then again, again, we got movies where everyone hates each other, and every one always ends up dying, and it's always the black guy who dies first. Jazz on Transformers 1. He was a black robot and died first. Bubba on Forrest Gump. Sauron on LOTR. He was kind of black I guess.

D) Everyone that I meet, I find that the "Family" is their number 1 blessing. It doesn't matter about religion, race, age. Family is number one. And I LOVE that! My family is number one. We're all super close and knit together, and I'm so grateful for that. And I've noticed in the HARDEST, TOUGHEST times, where parents get sick, lose jobs, friends and girly-friends fall away, when your oldest sister puts your $5.75 Darth Vader action figure in the microwave out of revenge for putting your younger sister's hair on fire and you get mad, that the family is still always there, and is closer than EVER.

Man I do miss that Darth Vader action figure though. (*Lindsey-the-Editor's Note: NOT a little girls' hair that got set on fire. **MY** hair! David, Spence, and Marcus yanked my hair, stuffed the ends of it in the microwave and pushed MINUTE!! And there I was, stuck with my head against the microwave, my hair getting caught in the little spinning plate and getting pulled out of my scalp, with the scent of burning hair filtering through the kitchen! Screaming, yelling, and the evil boys cackling. Good times. I think I had a very adequate excuse for my retaliatory destruction of Darth.)

Well I think that's it. Religion, Values, Family, and What's Really Important. That's about it. I've got to get going. Got work to do. Sure do love you Lindsey. Love your example, and your strength, and love the way you feel about others. And I sure am glad we both got the same bomb-diggity parents. They're pretty dang special!

"Okay Lady I love ya buh bye!" -Animaniacs

Trailers & The Origin of Happiness, Brought to You by the NY Times

Seeing as how 100% of my female friends' blogs have featured links to the movie trailers of either Where the Wild Things Are or Whip It in the last 2 months (PASS on both for me!), I'm taking it upon myself to infuse the Internet with my own cinematic enthusiasm for something else! Something different and classy. Here are just a few select words about this film, Coco Before Chanel, taken from this Friday's New York Times' review:

Audrey Tautou, biopic, orphanage, 20th-century social mores, "The blossoming of her ambition," brutal candor, and PG-13.

WIN WIN WIN! I don't care what you say. It's gonna be good.

Confession: although I'm pretty darn sure they don't really care, I always love to flaunt the fact that I read the New York Times to my dad and my cuz Michael Brown, my two favorite hardcore conservatives. (Once in a while they humor me with a mock round of consternation). I read "Satan's rag" in the name of being well-rounded, informed, a little closer to "edgy," and last but not least: because I genuinely regard this paper as unmatched in terms of intellectual depth, robust questioning, and journalistic talent. (Dad wants me to add: and liberal eco-communism)

Back in May, for example, NYTimesOnline published an article by philosopher Simon Critchley entitled Happy Like God (full text HERE) that may or may not have changed my life! I have wanted to discuss its ideas ever since I first read it; I probably think about this article and its contents weekly still, four months later.

Aristotle says that "Happiness is the solitary life of contemplation." How many of you balk at that statement? I certainly did. Happy=solitary??? No way man. Most of my happiest memories entail a lot of familiar smiling faces! (and sunshine, and fast engines, and face cards*), but wait just a second. Mr. Critchley puts up a good fight. He describes the sensation of "reverie," as experienced by the philosopher Rousseau. Floating on a little rowboat in the middle of a lake in his homeland of Switzerland, Rousseau found perfect inner contentment just studying and delighting in the moments as they passed, thinking of nothing else. This is a more lasting and fulfilling state of mind, apparently. As I've thought more and more about this peculiar idea of mini, mental, and super-charged happiness, I've realized that I have had a few of these "reveries." They're tiny flashes, single seconds sometimes, where I don't do anything else, just grin. Unusually crystal clear in my memory, often for the oddest reasons, they DO have the peculiar power to warm me up just as much if not more than all the combined memories of, say, the hours playing Flip Over Tens at the CCC Cabin (one of my favorite activities growing up. :)

Most recent example: this weekend. Saturday, after volunteering a long 5 hours at the Hirshhorn at a children's art workshop (on a busted ankle, no less), I finished cleaning up the ArtLab, then walked-slash-limped around the sculpture garden and out onto a bench on the National Mall, where they had some "Festival of the Book" going on.

And I thought to myself, "This is home." A grin slowly spread across my face. My home. Not collapse-on-a-mattress-kick-off-your-shoes home, but perfectly-content-state-of-mind home. In that moment, I could have stayed there forever; by myself, with other people, I didn't care. I was happy! Gordon Bunshaft's impressive cylinder of a museum is at once imposing, interesting, familiar, and enfolding to me. I have friends and colleagues at that museum that challenge and esteem me. It is where I cut my art history teeth, and it's where I confirmed the fact that contemporary and modern art is my arena, my power alley. Earlier that morning I had enjoyed walking back through those doors, being greeted by name by one of my favorite security guards, seeing the new Nick Cave sound suit (at right), and helping kids see colors and shapes and themselves through artists' eyes. All these elements combined and welled up into that moment of sheer bliss on the Mall! I'm thinking (and hoping) that that memory will be good enough to sustain me through the long months of kid-herding at the NBM yet to come.

For those that are interested, it is in fact an actual suit. Nick Cave creates these fantastic... well, you don't even call them costumes, they're artworks! Google for more of them, they're crazy! When the artist has a show, he and other performers walk gingerly around IN them. This piece (sans human occupant) is one of the Hirshhorn's newer purchases, and it is such a delightful pastiche of kitsch, found objects, postcolonial disdain for high art, and glittering fantasticalness!! I almost made like a two year old and dashed up on its pedestal to touch it when I first saw it.

My point is, there are all types of happy. This philosopher in the NY Times wanted to hierachicize them, using the absence of any other impinging thoughts as the marker of the highest happiness. I'm still not sure I can agree with him on that, but it's made for great food for thought these last couple of months. I'm more inclined to take note now when I feel at ease, or devoid of worry, or totally glowing, and to call myself happy therein.

And life is good today. That's pretty much the end of this speech. Have a great week!

*Other loves: lakes, mountains, shirtless boys, possibility of injury, thumping beats, skating, cheering, getting cool points for being one of the few girls that will go do the crazy stunts, the Danvillans.............. I know the following video totally defies the above thesis on alone-happy-times, but I don't care. It is everything I love and miss about Utah and Santa B and SUMMER and I have watched it more times than I want to admit this week. Wish I was there. Enjoy! (My buddy Dan, the one in the yellow shorts who does a gainer with his bike, is the video artist. Genius. I may or may not have started humming this beat under my breath in sacrament meeting today when the speaker mentioned things that make us happy):