I started my learning journey way back in... I guess it would be 1990 or 1991, when I successfully learned the shape of the letter A. Then of course came the all-important Nevada State Song, followed by a bunch of dates, formulas, and SAT vocab words that I no longer recall, and now, here I am... returning to Embrace Your Liberty with renewed dedication to its original purpose- sharing with my friends and family my love of learning about ART!!!!
I went way out of my comfort zone this semester. My class lineup includes French Renaissance Manuscript Art, African (more specifically, Ethiopian) art since 33 AD, and the first of two "Qualifying Papers," which I will create in lieu of a thesis. GW's Art History Department believes that theses are a waste of 6 months of your and my valuable job-searching time, and also that theses' most valuable contribution to your career (mainly, the refining of your writing/researching skills) can be accomplished by revamping past papers and submitting them to a jury of professors not once but twice during your masters' studies. I really approve of this idea. It won't make this particular semester any easier, though. Still- I laugh in the face of fatty research paper assignments- HAHAHA!
We, meaning my teachers and I, didn't waste any time this semester. 12 hours of class later, I am loaded down with 10 books and about 8 articles to read, and a burgeoning love of the Renaissance French author Christine de Pizan, whose Epistre Othea a Hector book (which was owned by a few of them English and French royalty peeps) I will study via the Internet in search of some new and brilliant reinterpretation/paper topic. Remember last semester when y'all got probably just a little too much of Frederic Edwin Church and the American landscape tradition that I was writing a monster paper about? This year, be prepared to stand in awe, after a while, of things like this:
I don't really know what these say. And I have no idea why a bunch of Medieval princesses are apparently laying bricks-- wait, no, I have a slightly educated guess now! Christine de Pizan wrote a book called the City of Ladies, which according to one of my articles is a philosophical architectural praxis of blah blah blah... sigh, we're back to the big words league, NOT my favorite thing, oh well. The point is, I bet this page comes from that book. Ladies building a city of ladies. You go, girls.
My final (or in a way, my first) point is, the French Renaissance artists wiped the floor with the Italians. Well, with the Italians, and tiny, tiny, itty-bitty paintbrushes. Italians had their murals, that's where they gloriously shine. But the Northern countries were just as Renaissance-y.... only on paper. In miniature paintings and in the margins of their beloved manuscripts. These works succeed in ways that are more thoughtful, personal, quiet, and yet just as inspiring as any Sistine Chapel. In the coming months I'll be telling you why.
PS Ethiopian art is on its way, too... Man, I can't begin to express how out of touch I feel here. My only reference point for African Art is the lovely Yinke Shonibare, and he's freaking BRITISH! And STILL ALIVE! I'm practically in the dark when trying to analyze ancient beautiful African objects like this:
|From the Baltimore Walters Art Museum|
It'll come. Can you see the nine concentric circles in this processional cross? The thing is so beautiful, so... crafted... I'm excited to learn more.