Step one: choose someone close to you.
Step two: ask about a piece of art that is significant to them.
Step three: interview them to find out why.
Each student in Drawing 1A recently investigated a friend or loved one’s taste, past and passions by following the steps above. The students gained insight into the experiences and thinking of their subjects and, if they were lucky, briefly glimpsed the power of a particular piece of art through another’s eyes.
Here are a few fragments of the students’ resulting reflections paired with images of the art that so intrigued their subjects.
- Aaren ’14: Eric on “Mark” by Chuck Close
- Sara ’16: Her Mom on “The Wedding Dance” by Pieter Bruegel
- Robbie ’16: His Dad on Claes Oldenburg’s soft sculptures
- Kealey ’15: Rosalyn on “The Rose” by Jay Defeo
- Ian ’14: His Mom on “Penny Tunes and Princesses” illustration by Ezra Jack Keats
- Sara ’15: Her Mom on “No.5, 1948” by Jackson Pollock
I interviewed my boyfriend Eric, who is an amazing artist. Going into the interview, I thought I had some sort of idea of a style of art that would have meaning or importance to him, but I was completely off. The piece of art that had meaning to him was the painting “Mark” by Chuck Close. He said that his art teacher had shown this work in class to show students different styles of art. Eric said that whenever he sees it he feels amazing because the details are so perfect, and it looks so realistic. He said that it’s so realistic that it could be a photograph. He said that the details are very interesting because the artist included every single detail about the face, every wrinkle, every scar and there are parts of the painting where you can see the pores in the skin. Eric knows that the artist has a disability where he is paralyzed and has had to make adaptations to be able to do art. Eric said that he believes these adaptations had created a new style of art. When looking at this painting, he feels inspired to better himself as an artist and explore new art techniques. Although he has not seen the piece of art in person, he would love to go see it one day.
I interviewed my mom about her favorite piece of art, “The Wedding Dance,” which was painted by Pieter Bruegel. She saw it during a trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts in high school and connected to it, this being one of the first times she really enjoyed a piece of art. Most art in museums didn’t interest her because historical and religious background information and an ability to recognize and appreciate artistic techniques were required, but “The Wedding Dance” was accessible and immediately relatable to her. At the time, she did not know much about the artist other than his nationality, but since then she has looked at some of his other work and enjoyed the large amount of detail he included.
For this assignment, I interviewed my dad. I chose my dad because he has many different tastes toward art, and he is an artist himself. My dad was interested in the art series soft sculpture, but more precisely the drum set. The artist who made this art piece is a Swedish man named Claes Oldenburg. My dad saw his work at the University of California Berkeley in 1971. My dad was interested in his art because it was my dad’s first time ever grasping the magnitude of importance of concept in modern art at that specific point in time. Another reason he was struck by the piece because he was impressed with execution of the art piece and technical skill of it. He had never heard of the artist prior to seeing the art piece at Berkeley. Since seeing Oldenburg’s work he has become a huge fan and now sees his art everywhere.
I interviewed my friend Rosalyn about seeing a significant piece of art. She chose to talk to me about “The Rose,” by Jay Defeo, which she saw at the SFMOMA. The painting itself is very large and three dimensional. Roz told me that the paint “looked like stone,” and its large size gave her the sensation of feeling very small. It felt, to her, that the painting was different than just an average painting because the paint had been carved to resemble many folds that all met in the center of the canvas. Roz mentioned that “The Rose” not only portrayed “life and growth, but exhibited light and becoming.” As she observed the center of the canvas, the image of a ring of light growing and shrinking appeared, creating a “perfect illusion.” It felt like the viewer was able to almost enter the painting and walk down “the endless tunnel.” Roz was particularly struck by the energy shown in “The Rose” because of the radiating power and life being “pushed through the petals of a flower.” I was amazed by the process that Defeo used — eight years is an incredible amount of time to work on a piece.
My mom has always liked Ezra Jack Keats. She says she finds his use of color compelling, and the way in which he represents his subjects equally so. She loves the way he tells his stories, both in writing and in art. This piece especially (Final illustration for Penny Tunes and Princesses, by Myron Levoy, 1972). We just saw it together at the Contemporary Jewish Museum the other day, but she had seen it before. She didn’t say where, but she said this was her first introduction to Keats.
What she loves about this piece, she said, was the color and life of it. She works mostly with pencil, but she wishes she could take painting classes and work with color. In this case, she likes to look at Keats as a role model.
My mom first saw [Jackson Pollock’s “No.5, 1948”] in an art history class at the College of Marin. It made her laugh because it looked like art that her kids could put together, yet it had great significance. … [Research done years later showed] the wind could push and pour cans of paint onto canvas [in a way that looked] similar to Jackson Pollock’s “No. 5, 1948.” What this shows to my mom is that he is a creative force of nature. In person, she has seen this piece of art with me in the New York Museum of Modern Art exhibit several years ago. To my mom, this piece of art captures one person’s emotional and physiological being at one point in time. She says she used to know a lot more about Jackson Pollock, but has forgotten over the years.
One Reply to “Conversations: Art Someone Close to You Loves”
These conversations represent the importance of ART in everyone’s life, especially today in this age of so much “talk” and “texting” and visually assaulting advertising images. Looking carefully at ART changes our lives in lasting ways and enhances our “quiet” inner privacy. Seeing a work of ART which “speaks” to us,personally, individually, is so fulfilling to the human spirit, which is otherwise put at risk by exposure to the mass-media attacks we endure everyday. Experiencing ART preserves and expands the inner feelings and thoughts which are difficult to express in words. Long live GREAT TEACHERS of ART. LONG LIVE ART!