Saturday, March 14, 2009

How many debts of gratitude do you have?

Arch of Hysteria, Louise Bourgeois, 1993. Bronze

"Art is dancing lessons for the eyes."

-That one actually sprang from my own little mind earlier this week during one of my interpretive guide shifts in the Louise Bourgeois galleries. I've now spent 25+ hours strolling around and around Louise's 65 years worth of works since the exhibition opening. I spend the whole time contemplating the works and then approaching complete strangers, asking for their thoughts and opinions about the show. The visitors have come from every walk of life and have voiced every type of ridiculous or ingenious opinion (my favorite: "Lindsey! That's not a spider, that's the alien Louise must've been talkin to when she made all this junk!"). I've been very grateful for my initial experience of abhorrence for her work; it gives me a point of reference when people just shake their heads and mumble how crazy she is or how disturbed her work feels to them. I can say, "You know, I initially felt that way, too; I hated her works. But as I studied them more, I came to admire at least how she was able to convincingly relay her raw inner emotions. It takes some sort of courage, and a lot of skill, to do that so deftly."


And then I draw their attention to my favorite aspect of Louis Bourgeois' oeuvre; her fluid, constant change between mediums. She started with those roughly carved wooden Personage totems, then skates on over to soft forms made out of plaster and latex in the 60's and then, inexplicably, starts toying with marble. She bounces to installation work after the 70's, when her husband dies, and then glides into soft, sewn, and stuffed works as well as works on paper (drawing, painting) in her late years as she loses dexterity. I like to draw people's attention to how personable she is as together we observe her constant change of focus. Her works have this strange psychic mirror effect; you can identify your own anxieties and shifting life focus in them, as you move amidst the strange shapes. Or at least, I can (yes, I'm a crazy art-obsessed freak. I've turned over to the dark side). I grabbed a couple of jpeg's of some of my favorite works from the show (at the bottomw of the post) so maybe you can flirt with my world too, if you dare. Fee free to tell me anything you think about them. Plus Jayci- inquiring minds want to know your theory why van Gogh painted white roses!!)

I like to think I am teaching people's eyes to dance. Art begs for active, moving viewership; the lines, curves, and angles get you moving, and sometimes their color, or texture, or emotion causes you to pause and marvel. Day after day now, I see people turn their back on the show and get ready to head back out into normal life, and they leave the LB exhibition with their eyes full of wonder, or at least full of thought. I can almost picture the works left behind in the galleries taking a silent bow.

I love my job.

I have been a stressball all week because of worrying about what comes next, though (it's dawned on me that I'm half way through my internship) and also because of the usual lack of sleep and sustenance, which are really starting to worm their way up to the top of my list of "Surprise Features of Adult Life." But today is Saturday, which means I got to sleep in, for the first time in about 4 weeks. YAAAAAY!

I've had so many good adventures lately, I hardly know where to begin.

Random sampling of Lindsey's Wild Life: Lebanese food and funk concert (Alice Russell... youtube her. Great voice!), an accidental encounter with theater-in-the-round (me and a friend were just trying to get to a photography exhibit, but ended up thrust into this little theater, watching half of a play... until it got ridiculously raunchy and we had to leave to get the Spirit back. Phew), driving my roommate's car at 5 am without the headlights (don't ask.), again with the cookie dough for dinner (I didn't have time to grocery shop for over a week! And all I had were baking supplies! I love being a Mormon girl.). Oh and there was a Naval Academy Ball (gotta love those men in uniform... mm.), and the time I helped out with "Artist at Work With Youth" at the Hirshhorn, where local kids come to the museum and a professional artist (Mary Coble) took them through the galleries and then taught them to make their own art; that was fun. I think I'm allergic to kids though (or that it's almost spring time) cuz I was so sneezy and stuffy the whole time.

I'm still continuously stepping out of my comfort zone in the big, scary LDS singles world (I miss my BFF's so much... but I'm so grateful for cell phones, and for all the friends I keep on having hour-long conversations with), and finally, I am still enjoying my continuous, progressive enchantment with the professional world. I really love studying museum culture; I am always asking pesky questions to all of the senior staff at work. I can't help it- I want to know what makes collection storage tick, or how the endowment-soliciting development people maneuver amongst the rich and famous. I really appreciate how the education specialists in my Programs department choose to present the glories of modern and contemporary art to the public, who sometimes embrace, sometimes debase, their work. (Sometimes when I meet people in the galleries who just what to know, "What does this mean?" and I tell them that's half the fun of modern art- whatever they say goes. Artists over the last century have revolutionized the construction and aesthetics of art because they considered the imaginitive process that goes on in the viewers' minds the real artwork.)

I've also been completely absorbed by this book The $12 Million Dollar Stuffed Shark, which explains the inner workings of contemporary art prices, something that mystifies normal economists. I'm fascinated by the genius (and the nerve) of some of these artists. I look forward to trying my mettle in their ranks. Haha- and my last adventure to report: I participated in my ward girl's basketball game this morning. I think it's the second time I've played basketball in my whole life (I found out I don't speak basketball. They kept telling me to box someone in and I had to have someone explain what that means.) For the first time I thought, "Oh my gosh. I really have transitioned into one of those artsy nerd girls on the sidelines!" But I got a foul, that made me proud. And I can still hold my own in swim, volleyball (ish) and football. So there.


There is a Louis Bourgeois drawing entitled, "How Many Debts of Gratitude Do You Have?" and it looks like a Venn diagram, with all of these little bubbles listing people or circumstances for which she is grateful. Mine would be so huge, and behind each of them is God. He gave them to me. My double-sided coins of trials and blessings. Whenever things get too heavy out here (which is often... this place is so crazy!) I just keep on going back to that fact. I'm learning a lot out here and I think God is happy with that. I hope I can continue to find good friends to share my musings with (besides all you wonderful far-away family members and friends). What an adventure. Oh, PS, I gave a talk last week in my 9am sacrament meeting.......... and it was Daylight Savings Time. Guess who's phone didn't change automatically like I thought it would?????? OH YEA BABY! I gave a talk in my uber-professional, suave ward of 27 year old high-and-mighties... in hair that hadn't been washed in two and a half DAYS!!!! (although reports from friends who witnessed my talk assured me it wasn't really apparent). Haha... only me.

from top to bottom and left to right:

Spider, 1997 (that's the one someone thought was an alien)... it's about 12 ft. tall!

Femme Maison (House Woman), 1945-47

How Many Debts of Gratitude Do You Have?, No Date

Lair, 1962 (made of plaster) 14 inches tall (mom wanted to know)

Cell (Twelve Oval Mirrors), 1998

10am is when you come to me, 2008 (drawings on sheets of music paper)

4 comments:

Jayci said...

sorry about the unwashed hair! But I'm sure your talk went flawlessly other than that. :oP I'm so glad you love your job; not all adults are lucky enough for that! Even appreciated and LIKING Louis Bourgeois' artwork - impressive that you've made the professional full-circle in first impressions - analysis - then appreciation! :) well done.

Jayci said...

ps - i've got to try to remember that theory!!

MOM said...

Hi sweetie. Did Louise do that first piece...the arching silver dancer/gymnast? I love it's fluid lines. Is it missing a head, or is that my imagination? And is that next piece the "spider/alien" someone mentioned? I can't tell what's in the cage. Looks interesting! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these pieces when we come in 3 weeks! Let's pray for good weather and the cherry blossoms to be out! I can't wait to see the dogwood trees... my favorite...besides YOU!

And by the way, you really CAN'T speak basketball, can you? I think when you said you "got a foul", what you really meant to say was "I fouled someone." :) Sure wish I could be there to watch you play!

Judy Anne said...

Lindsey,
I may not always understand what you say, but I LOVE how you say it. It is great to find your passion and to live in it. Remember, adulthood is scarey for even us older, seasoned adults. Love ya lots.