Hay is for Horses: Don't Overthink Art

If you happened to gaze out at the Arts quad last week, you would have observed some quite mystifying rows of red bags of hay sprawled across the entire quad. My English professor, bless her soul, pronounced the bags to be an “enactment of an Emersonian metaphor made literal.” My first (poorly surmised) guess at the meaning of these bags’ appearance was that the grounds department was preparing for some sort of refurbishment of the quad, though I couldn’t figure out how or why that would involve hay. I then considered the possibility that some animal science majors were scheming, not so tactfully, to transform the quad into a giant farm — and ardent though those animal science majors are, this scenario, too, seemed unlikely.

Infinite Intricacies: Digging Deeper

At first glace, Merrill Shatzman’s work seems to convey some sort of message, carrying traces of symbols and patterns that appear to be jumping off the page, just waiting to be decoded. Upon closer inspection, however, it becomes clear that any message she attempts to convey is infinitely multi-faceted, as increasingly more layers of etchings and connections reveal themselves. In a statement, she says her work “… questions and examines the ‘universal language’ created by signs, symbols and pre-imagined images … us[ing] surroundings as both an idea and an artifact.” She describes her muse as graphic communication, markings and forms that have the ability to convey meanings through simple rearrangements and displacements of lines and curves.

Documenting Impossiblity Through Sculpture

Yes; I’m Serious, and Don’t Call Me Surely, the thesis show of M.F.A. student Allen Camp ’09, is as funny as its title promises. However, it is equally serious. A selection of three-dimensional works in a limited palette, the show investigates the often-paradoxical relationship between objects and their “idiographic symbols.”

Reading Between the Timelines

Matthew Buckingham’s work challenges our understanding of historiography by its disquieting insistence that “narrative depends on silence,” as he remarked during his Monday lecture entitled “The Sense of the Past.” If the power of narrative derives from what gets left out, what’s implied and “what we are meant to forget,” then our understanding of historical narrative becomes troubled by a necessary void.

Conception, Creation and Contemplation

Is art material or idea, product or process?
This year’s history of arts majors’ exhibit in the Johnson Museum, Unfolding Process: Conceptual and Material Practice on Paper, showcases artwork that leaves a residue of the conceptual labor of creation inscribed on the body of the work itself. The exhibit suggests that the value of an artwork resides in its ability to function as a conduit between the artist’s conceptual and technical struggles and the viewer’s labors to achieve an aesthetic experience, whatever that may be.

Worth His Weight In Plaster

The fulcrum is a handshake. It’s an exchange of power, a link between bodies, the passing of traditions and a tight squeeze for love.
“It all rests in the hands,” Noah Robbins ’10 said about the two statues he has constructed for his untitled exhibit that explores these themes and is currently open in Tjaden gallery.
Two heavy, white-plaster casts of individual male torsos perch atop wood crate-like pedestals. The two bodies unite by extended arms — they hold hands out between the two wooden columns on which they rest. One body is from a smaller man, presumably a younger man, and both bodies seem immensely unyielding and weighty. The two arms that extend over the gap between the pedestals seem uncommonly fragile.

Philly Print Show Trumps Cezanne

While everyone’s lining up with their $22 timed tickets to see the Cezanne & Beyond show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, look instead at the museum’s much-smaller but equally interesting exhibition Grand Scale: Monumental Prints in the Age of Durer and Titian. The Cezanne-viewers will be bottlenecked through low-ceilinged rooms and bumping elbows as they listen to their audio tours, but you, enlightened visitor, will be strolling through the relatively empty galleries of Monumental Prints, gazing at astounding Renaissance engravings and etchings.

NYC's P.S.1 Offers The Good and The Ugly

Over break I visited friends in New York City, where I had previously lived for five years. During that time I rarely schlepped out to Queens from my Brooklyn apartment — with one big exception: the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Museum summer parties. This time, I decided to take in the museum sans hipster-packed, alcohol-sopped outdoor rave. This trip made me wonder, though, whether beer-goggles were needed to appreciate the often vapid beauty — or more often, politicized disparagement of beauty — that crowds the contemporary art scene.

Poo-pooing Paintings in Paris

This past week, my boyfriend visited me during Cornell’s spring break, and so I celebrated as if it were mine, too (SPRING BREAK 2009!).
Maybe it wasn’t as buckwild as Cancún would have been, but we did do a lot of touristy things, as one might expect. The most shocking and disappointing realization to come of these was that the Louvre kind of sucks. Like, really.

Money and the Muse

If there’s any figure more romantic than the artist, it’s the rebel. Just take dorm room posters — as cool as your Jim Morrison picture might be, my Che Guevara will always be cooler. But combine the two, and you’ve got a beast.