Today could be the day you meet Abraham Lincoln. At the grand opening of Tisch's "Forever Free" exhibit tonight at 6 p.m., you could even say hello to and shake the hand of the stovepipe-hatted gentleman. Well, maybe not the stovepipe-hatted gentleman, but someone who closely resembles the 16th president (the 6'10" local historian and Lincoln impersonator George Cheevers). His appearance will be just a sideshow at the national traveling exhibition, "Forever Free: Abraham Lincoln's Journey to Emancipation," which opened at Tisch on Wednesday. The exhibit itself consists of three multi-paneled displays, spread out to allow for uncrowded viewing. In a corner, one can examine a remarkable binder of photocopied documents with a Union soldier's hymn book ("For right is right, since God is God, and right the day must win; to doubt would be disloyalty, to falter would be a sin") and a slave sale receipt ("one thousand and twenty five Dollars, being in full for the purchase of one Negro slave named Sam"). This section strives to give voices to the many sides present during this tumultuous time in American history, from the black soldiers to Lincoln's opponents. The political cartoons are fascinating: keep an eye out for one depicting Honest Abe as an irritated Satan. Another panel features vitriolic propaganda published by the Democrats during the 1864 presidential election. Calling the then-president "Abraham Africanus the First," the tract asked, "What is the Constitution? A compact with hell - now obsolete." The panels are designed with aesthetics in mind and an emphasis on imagery. The panels whet one's taste for the time period and make a trip to the E457 section (where Lincoln books are stored) on the first floor of Tisch very desirable. To fully appreciate the exhibit requires about an hour, but the experience of the exhibit does not end when your examination of the panels is complete. This is an exhibition that moves beyond the stagnant two-dimensional to breathe and rejoice in the idea of living history. The simple act of unfolding one of the program pamphlets opens a nearly overwhelming number of opportunities. The events of "Forever Free" span lectures, speeches, workshops, re-enactments, film series and concerts (including one that may prominently feature President Bacow). During the next six weeks, the campus will host school groups on field trips from third graders through high-schoolers. Stephanie St. Laurence, Tisch co-coordinator of "Forever Free," said people heard of the project through word of mouth, and came from every corner of Massachusetts to get involved. The Medford Historical Society worked closely with Tisch coordinators by contributing financially and enhancing the collection. The coordinators have been so involved with planning the exhibition for the past three years that they are not quite sure what to do now that it is finally open. "It's a little like graduating," said St. Laurence with a sigh. St. Laurence was then momentarily distracted by a gentleman with a strange question: how many four-legged animals, such as horses and mules, were killed during the Civil War? Check the display on "Animals in the Civil War" at the veterinary school campus in Grafton, St. Laurence said. This is just a hint of the wealth of information and culture, available these next six weeks from Tisch, the heavily-involved academic departments and the extremely responsive community. The past does not have to be facts on a page, memorized, subjected to exams, and finally relegated to apathy. This exhibit shows the power of living history. Before leaving, be absolutely sure to stand in front of the glass display case on one side of the Tisch lobby. In the center of the case, you will find the actual broadside advertisement that was hanging in Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865, the night Lincoln was shot. It was retrieved by Edwin Adams, the performer booked at the theater for the week after - who was also a Medford native. What goes around comes around, and Lincoln has finally come to Tufts.
For the artist whose name immediately brings to mind images of ballerinas, the new "Degas at Harvard" show at Harvard's Arthur M. Sackler Museum demonstrates the breadth of Edgar Degas' career. "Degas at Harvard," which runs through November 27, shows the Impressionist-era artist's work in a small, manageable space. The three-room exhibition is broken up by rough subject matters-- themes relating to horses and earlier work, performance and dance, nature, and bathers, and shows that Degas tended towards variety in subject matter and form. In fact, despite the show's small size, attendees can see that Degas created work in many different areas and prodigiously worked in a variety of materials. The show begins with Degas' earlier work, including drawings based on Renaissance masters and equestrian themes. When Degas became interested in a subject, he did not limit himself to one depiction of it, nor did he limit himself to one medium with which to render it. Instead, Degas chose to explore, and this is shown in this small equestrian area. The oil painting "Horses and Riders on a Road" (1867-1868) has the look of an impromptu painting of horses and their riders trotting down a brown path with a cityscape as background. The unusual choice of cracked panel on which it is painted adds interesting textures to the painting, showing Degas to have been unafraid of unique materials. Also in this portion of the exhibit, Degas shows his versatility through the bronze sculpture "Horse Trotting, the Feet Not Touching the Ground" (1881-1890). Degas' great ability to capture another aspect of equestrian life is made clear with this figure-the horse is captured in motion, caught mid-air. The second room offers a glimpse into Paris in the late nineteenth century, a society nearly enslaved to its culture of leisure. Cafes offered a good balance of private activities like dining and resting, while offering a public place for Parisians to meet. Degas was famously able to attend rehearsals to watch and sketch dancers as they practiced, and as a result his paintings in this area show the dancers and entertainers who performed at these cafes in more untraditional poses. Highlighting one of Paris' popular leisure activities the cafe concert, Degas' "Singer with a Glove" from 1878 shows a singer in the middle of a particularly high note. The cafe concert was a combination of the Parisian cafe scene with music, performance, and comedy. In this pastel, Degas' interest is less on the glamour of the performance and instead focuses on the high energy of the performer. As viewers, we can practically see up her nose and into her mouth as she sings a high note. Degas emphasizes this energy of performance through a bright palette and variety of textures. Across the room from this pastel drawing hangs the elegant "Young Woman in Street Costume" (c. 1879). This small but intense study of a stylish woman out for a walk jumps off the page through Degas' masterful use of inks, wash, gouache, and chalk on wove paper. This small yet sophisticated composition highlights Degas' interest in the fashionable set with time for afternoon strolls. Besides figural representations, the Harvard exhibit also shows Degas to have been interested in themes of nature as well. His "Untitled (The Hourdel Road, near St-Valery-sur-Somme)" from 1895 depicts a series of forlorn trees slanting to the right. The black and white photograph is bleak, the sky is awash in grey tones, there aren't any clouds, and the road down the center is empty. Shades of grey completely comprise this composition, as the trees are merely dark shades against the pale sky above the speckled medium grey road. This photograph harkens to Degas' Impressionist contemporary, Claude Monet's painting "Sea Coast at Trouville" (1881), which is housed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Monet's use of rich color tones in "Trouville" serves as a stark contrast to Degas' bleak picture. Perhaps Degas had this painting in mind while taking his desolate photograph some years later. Another interesting piece in the landscape section is "The Road in the Forest," a monotype in green and brown oil colors on white paper. The artist derived this abstract piece, made later on in the artists' life between the years 1890-1893, entirely from a memory of a carriage ride through the Burgundy countryside. Since this work is more of a composite rendering than it is the depiction of one specific local, Degas later described the scene as "paysages imaginares" (imaginary countryside). The rest of the exhibition focuses on one of Degas' favorite subject matters: bathers. Harvard does a nice job of juxtaposing prints and charcoals of varying sizes and on different colored papers to highlight the different effects these factors give to the drawings and prints. Three scenes from Degas' 1892-1898 "After the Bath" series that hang in a row along the back wall are particularly striking. All were produced on colored papers and as a result convey very different effects than the "Nude Figure Bathing" (1892-1895), whose composition of charcoal on white paper gives the piece a brighter look than the others. In another part of the bathers section, "After the Bath, Woman with a Towel" (1893-1897) again shows Degas' rapacious interest in various media and in experimenting with techniques. This pastel depicts much the same subject matter as the charcoals and prints, but was rendered in vivid colors and with a strong use of patterns and textures. It is painterly in its execution and Degas uses strong lines. The "Degas at Harvard" show is on the small side, yet despite its size, it strives to exhibit a wide variety of both subject matters and media. Harvard's is the largest collection of Degas of any university museum, and this beautiful show truly highlights its best work.
There are two decidedly different ways to look at the "Things I Love: The Many Collections of William I. Koch" exhibit now on display at the Museum of Fine Arts. The first, more obvious and probably "wrong" way to look at it would be to simply see the three-room show as a bunch of pretty things some middle-America, rich WASP bought for fun. The second, more intuitive way, would be to try and see the assembled works as Koch did when he bought and curated them. This is the way Koch and the MFA want the show to be seen, and this approach allows for an experience that is ultimately more satisfying - one often has to work hard to imagine what Koch was thinking (though some lucky museum-goers may happen upon a tour given by the collector himself). The MFA is currently besieged with a number of Koch's collectables. In fact, immediately upon entering from Huntington Avenue, one is confronted by yachts from the America's Cup which he managed to install on the verdant front lawn. At the west wing entrance one can behold a number of Koch's sculptures, including works by Fernando Botero, which Koch loves "because they're big and fat and friendly." The show begins in the antechamber which highlights Koch's visceral approach to collecting. He chose the theme of inebriation to open the exhibit, and to highlight this theme he pairs bottles of expensive wine, a 470 B.C. ceramic "Attic Red Figure Drinking Cup" and a Picasso tile painting depicting drunken sailors. Koch is the founder of the Oxbow Group, whose name connoisseurs of American art will recognize as an allusion to the classic nineteenth-century painting by Thomas Cole. "I don't collect art because I want to be challenged," Koch said recently to a group at the museum. "All day long I'm challenged at work by lawyers... when I get home I want to enjoy what I see; I want to enjoy the art." As a result, his collection can be described as varied, eccentric and idiosyncratic. Koch's collection of art has a strong showing of big names. The first room features a sentimental hodgepodge from a variety twentieth century artists. John Koch's photorealistic painting resides next to an eighteenth-century Dutch masterpiece by Jan van Os. The Impressionist masterpiece, "Field of Oats and Poppies" by Monet, is a favorite of Koch's because the painting reminds him of the Midwestern fields from his childhood - even though the poppy field it depicts hails from France. Across from the Monet one can find nautical works by American artist Winslow Homer. Koch, who has a deep interest in boating, likes their fantastical nature. Koch admits that when he sees the work, he wishes he could sail away with the men depicted. The witty, Belgian nineteenth-century painter Alfred Stevens is also represented with "The Coquette," a Degas-like, beautifully rendered study of a young woman's enthrallment with her own reflection in a mirror. This charming comment on vanity reminds Koch of his daughter, and to him the young woman appears older and wiser in her reflected image than in her actual depiction, something he imagines all girls see when they look in the mirror. The painting is beautifully executed - the girl's hair is silky and auburn, she sits on a plush green chair, and her skin is pale and flawless. The next room is dedicated to themes of Americana, with a particular emphasis on the Wild West. Koch decided to collect these works because they reminded him of the time he spent on his father's ranches throughout the American West. Works by Frederic Remington include "The Cheyenne," a well-detailed bronze figure study of equine motion. A Native American sits atop a horse in mid-stride, dust rising up in the back, showing the great force of the horse's gallop. The famous Cyrus Edward Dallin bronze piece "Appeal to the Great Spirit," also depicting a Native American majestically riding a horse, is set amongst display cases filled with a variety of historic firearms and traditional Native American objects. This portion of the exhibit also includes a wedding dress which Koch tried to convince one of his wives to wear, but she "wouldn't because it had BO." The final room is more figural, and contains a variety of nude studies with tastes ranging from a unique 1929 Matisse entitled "Young Woman Made up in Oriental Style" which is a light, simple nude, to Koch's most valuable piece, Picasso's 1901 "Night Club Singer," the back of which contains a surprise for astute observers. The exhibition's cover girl, Modigliani's "Reclining Nude" from 1917, is also featured in this room. Although it seems odd that Koch would be interested in the history of figure depiction unless that history appealed to some aspect of his own life, he includes a controposto ancient Roman marble sculpture that harkens back to the more modern paintings' roots. Koch's collections shown at the MFA have been controversial to say the least, primarily because Koch himself is one of the principle sources of its funding. The assemblage of work is interesting and deeply personal even if it may not have much rhyme or reason outside of Koch's own life. Although the exhibit may not be a great one, it is an interesting compilation of one man's tastes.
Postmodern painting has posed a problem ever since, well, the modern era faded into the misty past. Amid cries of "Painting is dead!" some artists still choose to push the boundaries of the traditional medium. "Resurfaced," the current exhibition at the Boston University Art Gallery (BUAG), addresses the challenges of contemporary painting in a colorful, varied exhibition. By showcasing art from across the country -- the curator, Joshua Buckno, solicited work from places as varied as Miami and New York City -- the BUAG displays the ways artists have innovatively handled paint and the surfaces beneath it. Seven artists are included in the show: Sam Gilliam, Katy Stone, Gina Ruggieri, Sam Cady, Jennifer Riley, Bill Thompson, and Roger Tibbetts. All of them approach the question posed by the curator, "What constitutes a painting in the wake of the postmodern period?" in completely different ways. "'Resurfaced' explores the intersection between sculpture and painting," said Buckno. The works by Thompson, Gilliam, Tibbitts and Stone showcase this intersection most explicitly. Bill Thompson's portraits of "Ruben," "Doris," "Ray," "Hudson," and "Pet" greet the visitor like jewels studding the title wall of the exhibition. Against the black background, the epoxy blocks come off of the wall, glittering in a way reminiscent of a new car. Upon approach, viewers can see their own reflections, adding another dimension to the idea of a portrait. The unique shape and shade of each block serve as representations of different people in Thompson's life. Sam Gilliam paints colorful, fabric sculpture-like pieces that protrude from the wall into the viewing area. The first, "Poster Turban," doesn't allow the word "turban" out of your head, though it does not resemble one. Its folds and creases, along with its Technicolor reds, blues and greens, somehow echo a headdress. The second, "Untitled," is much larger and contains many smaller structures, some of which resemble collapsing boxes. It is one of the exhibit's gambles to classify works like these as paintings; many conventional perspectives would call Gilliam's work fiber art or sculpture. Roger Tibbitts's work, primarily balls resembling molecular structures that appear to grow out of the wall, is the weakest of the show in terms of its relevance to the theme. In monochromatic black and white, these installations fall more into the category of sculpture than painting since color and shading weren't even considered. The balls take over an entire wall of the small exhibition space. Shimmering cascades of Mylar and vibrant reds, whites, yellows and blues dominate the opposite wall of the exhibition. Katy Stone's two pieces, with their realistic painted elements on Mylar installations, provide the bridge between the more sculptural and more painterly aspects of the exhibition. "[Her] abstract paintings inhabit the third dimension with a nebulous quality, as if the painting descended form the ceiling and is in the midst of evolving into an object," Buckno said in the exhibition catalog. Jennifer Riley's "Five Sleds" are paintings exploring color, in an Ellsworth Kelly sort of way. Leaned against the wall rather than hung, the backs of the paintings reflect off the white wall in a secondary spectrum. They seem more imitative than innovative. Sam Cady and Gina Ruggieri are the two artists whose work is most impressive in the exhibition. Cady's work fits into the theme through his exploration of canvas shapes, while Ruggieri's falls under innovative surface explorations. Cady's "Single Scull" hangs on the wall, appearing to be the three-dimensional bottom of a boat although in reality it is just a well-rendered painting. "Morning Mirage, Jones Garden" seems like a typical landscape -- except that the canvas stops where the trees and water do rather than including the sky. Its long, thin shape attracts the viewer to lean in closely and observe the details, such as distant boats along the shoreline. Ruggieri's realistic paintings of rock piles appear to lie directly on the wall, but they are in fact painted on Mylar. The contrast between the incredibly thin surface and the heavy solidity of the hyper-realistic rocks poses a question for visitors peering from across the gallery: are those rocks really there? Is there a window there? But no, the paintings are just exceedingly well done, and draw viewers in through the tension between material and subject. "Resurfaced" is worth visiting if you're on the BU campus or are exceedingly interested in postmodern painting. The small size of the exhibition and the inconsistent quality of the work, however, with Tibbits and Riley being the weakest links, make it unworthy of a special trip. Take the Green 'B' Line to BU-West. For more information, visit www.bu.edu/art.
Guest curator Judith Hoos Fox's new traveling exhibit "Pattern Language: Clothing as Communicator" might not be exactly the show for aspiring Prada gurus and Versace connoisseurs. The exhibition, which opened last Thursday in the Tufts University Arts Gallery in Aidekman, strives to be the antithesis of the typical "fashion show" you'd have in mind. Rather than showcase luxurious garb and outrageous prices, more than twenty artists used clothing to leave a mark about the wearer's essence: the human spirit. "This exhibit is unusual for Tufts," said Jeanne Koles, the Gallery Outreach Coordinator. "It's one of the most ambitious exhibits we've done in a couple of years. When you just look around, the number of objects and various types of objects aren't just pieces on the walls - they're displayed in unique ways and made in unique ways ... It's a holistic approach that makes [the exhibit] really interesting." Unique is definitely the word to describe it. The exhibit divides into four categories, and in every part, clothes make some sort of statement about humanity. In the "Everyman" category, for example, one striking piece is a seemingly normal sweater - but with two neck holes. Called "Schizo-Pullover," this piece by Rosemarie Trockel symbolizes the struggle for personality, with the two presumed heads fighting for the limelight. It could also be a convenient knit for conjoined twins. Moving along in the collection will reveal pieces that draw even more attention. Ever sport those Abercrombie labels in all their glory? Do you believe that "Clothes Make the Man?" The power of advertising takes a whole new turn in The Art Guys' piece of that name: in an ironic parody of the never-ending quest for labels, this project has the tags define the suits. Sporting coats and pants with brand names like "Krispy Kreme," "Altoids," and "Budweiser," the two models can be seen wandering the city streets in the opening video. Parodying that integral daily demonstration of labels on personal clothing, the artists' display makes a powerful statement about today's ad-soaked world. In addition to their instinctive functions, clothes serve to contain and screen parts of the body. In the "Container/Contained" section, be sure to note the "Camouflage Maternity Dress" by Mimi Smith. The pregnant sergeant's frock with its space helmet belly is quite an eccentric eye catcher. The dress shows the absolute opposite of "normal" maternity clothes, with its glass stomach taking center stage amidst green army patterns. "People try to hide the fact that they're pregnant," said Koles. "In fact, here it is, showing it for all the world!" In the "(Un)Clothed" section there is no shyness either. In "The Immortal Tailor," artist Alba D'Urbano attempts to redefine the very nature of clothing. Rather than covering the body, her flesh-colored satin frocks have all intimate areas painted on - essentially revealing everything and nothing at once. There is a place for innovative multitasking, too. In the "Construction/Creation" section, the clothes can create themselves or even self-destruct. Try to resist the temptation to pull the zipper when viewing Galya Rosenfeld's "Object Un-Dress:" it's a gown made entirely out of "one continuous piece of zipper" that somehow holds the shape of a full dress. "The stiffness is created from the zipper's own tension, without the help of a crinoline," said Koles. In the demonstrative video, a model took about two minutes to unroll the entire outfit. It can also be customized to different lengths just by unzipping. Among the works in the last section is the aesthetically pleasing "Measure For Measure" by Cat Chow, a 50s-style housedress created completely out of measuring tape. The colorful blend of checkers and numbers appears to be pretty and innocent at first glance; however, it represents "every woman's struggle to measure up," according to the program. Still, this tailored measuring tape concoction is probably the most wearable outfit from the collection with a bright pattern of fuchsia, yellow and green squares. Perhaps the most important aspect of "Pattern Language" is the emotions and themes that the art evokes: human vulnerabilities, complexes, needs, wants and dreams. "It's not a fashion exhibition," Koles said. "It's about the function of clothing, how human beings use clothing. In a way it's about the body, too." "Pattern Language" will stay at Tufts until Nov. 13. Afterwards, it will move on to universities in Illinois, California and Minnesota. In the past few weeks, the Aidekman gallery space has actually been redesigned to accommodate this exhibit; this is the first time in recent history that Tufts is involved with a touring exhibition of this magnitude. Tufts offers comprehensive tours of the gallery with an Art Gallery Guide, available by schedule, as well as individual group appointments. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (617) 627-3094.
Owner Meredith Garniss refers to Willoughby & Baltic, a commercial art space in Davis Square, as "an incubator for artists." Based on the impression that it gives upon entering, it must be a kind of hangout for them as well. From the quirkiness of the space, which is a garage turned studio turned gallery, to the nude model who was wrapping up his session before it opened at noon on Sunday, the place screams "character." Tucked into a small alleyway off of Elm St., it is at this point frequented only by those who are in-the-know: Somerville's ample artist population. Every two weeks, a Somerville artist displays his or her art for viewing, and hopefully, to sparks buyers' interest. Garniss wants the space to be a comfortable environment for both the artist and art appreciator. Artists who have just a few pieces, or who don't necessarily have an official r?©sum?© are welcomed to submit their work for the gallery. At the same time, people who may not feel comfortable walking into a gallery on Newbury St. and dropping their life savings on a painting have the chance to casually view artwork and buy it at a more reasonable price. On display now is a collection of Garniss' works, in preparation for the upcoming Somerville Open Studios weekend, when artists throughout the city open their doors and invite the public to view their work. Her pieces range from older portraits and paintings of objects to her more recent work with landscape. These landscapes are not overly concerned with structure or accurately depicting a certain setting, but are more tonal and indicative of Garniss' mood. They do not portray specific scenes, but rely on contrasting colors and a wax and oil color combination to bring out the mood that she was in while painting it. An earlier painting, entitled "Woman #1" is part of a series of three. It is done entirely with a pallet knife, which gives it an abstract feel. Next to it hangs a painting of buildings in the North End, made up of warmer colors than those in her landscapes. This painting, as well as a portrait of a construction worker, is representative of Garniss' earlier style. A common characteristic in many of her paintings is the use of contrasting colors, which gives her work a unique depth and vibrating quality. Garniss stressed that Willoughby & Baltic is heavier on the commercial side than other galleries in the area. The artists on display can see which of their paintings sell, and are then able to produce more work in that vein. The gallery also offers a space for people to work. On Sunday mornings, Garniss hires a model so that aspiring artists can come in and practice. Garniss is in a perpetual state of preparation and progress. She has recently founded the Somerville Center for Adult Education, holding fine arts classes in the Willoughby & Baltic gallery. This collective hopes to eventually include a variety of classes and possibly spread into Medford and Arlington as well. For Somerville Open Studios, Garris is finishing up some of her work, as well as continuing to make improvements on the relatively new gallery space. "I often say that I have two projects; my paintings and the gallery." In the corner sits a long vertical canvas, primed for a painting of Willoughby and Baltic, who, until the painting is completed, do not actually exist. This is just another interesting touch to this artist's haven.
Many art history scholars argue that in order to understand the work of Picasso, one must first know his background and all of the meaningful experiences that shaped his life. This strategy, on a much smaller scale, is helpful in grasping the newest exhibit at Art Attack, "Battlescenes."
Mama always said, you can tell a lot about a person by their...chairs? Okay, so your mama may not have said it, but Dayanita Singh's sure did. In a series of photographs, Gardner Museum Artist-in-Residence Dayanita Singh explores the cultural significance of chairs and their ability as a simple object to provide an array of information. Each of Singh's photographs brings out the distinct quality of its subject. Displayed in conjunction with her photographs are two installations that incorporate historic chairs from the Gardner collection. The project was a collaborative between Singh, furniture historian Fausto Calderai from Italy, filmmaker Michael Sheridan and art educator Carla Hartman. Singh is based in India but has been well received in the United States. In a recent project, she photographed the lives and environment of the elite class in India. Singh came to the artist-in-residence program at the Gardner Museum and began photographing the objects with which Isabella Stewart Gardner filled her home. This led Singh to take a specific interest in the many chairs of the museum. The large collection of chairs, which many people would simply ignore on their walk through the three-story museum, are taken out of the shadows and given their own spotlight in Singh's photographs, which are exhibited on the first floor. Singh's work is the first of three contemporary exhibitions to be displayed there this year. Many of the photographs have a sad, lonely quality to them. This is largely due to the lack of activity and life in the images. This could also be a result of the personification of the chairs, as they are each different in age, make-up, and placement within a space. One photograph entitled "Ballerina chair" is of a small chair with thin legs held firmly in place, its shadow cast on the wall behind it. If the chair were a person, it would have perfect grace and posture. Singh's images invite viewers to create their own ideas of whom or what once inhabited the empty chairs. There is an irony in doing this, however, in that they have been, and will continue to be, unused at the museum. Another photograph is of an 18th-century Italian chair that faces a small table with Raphael's "Piet? ," likening the chair to a viewer of art. The photographs are black-and-white, which causes there to be a timeless quality about them and furthers the theme of emptiness. The multimedia installation entitled "Amnesia," is made up of an Italian walnut chair with a flat screen built into it. A series of Singh's photos are projected onto the screen, and even an image of the chair itself makes its way into the slides, which would make this chair, what, narcissistic? The exhibit extends into a room on the second floor in which an arrangement of chairs and sofas has been made. They are placed in small clusters throughout the room, suggesting that a social gathering has taken place there. Outside of the museum caf?© is an excerpt from Michael Sheridan's film documentation of the goings-on behind the scenes, while the exhibit was being coordinated and set up. What comes across strongly and clearly in these images is the power of suggestion. Singh's work proves that with a simple movement of an object, or by viewing it from a different angle, something new and interesting can be conveyed. "Chairs" is Dayanita Singh's first solo exhibition in the United States. She also has work on display at the Asia Society in New York through June 1st.
Karl Stirner was discovered by students in Pennsylvania over 30 years ago, when he was designing metal jewelry and furniture. Ripped from his small studio by these inquisitive young minds, Stirner began to teach at the Tyler School of Art. This fostered his interest in sculpture and he went on to collect and create a large body of art, continuing to teach at schools like Moore and Swarthmore. Stirner's current exhibition, entitled "Feeling Lucky," is on display in the Remis Sculpture Court. Over the course of his life, Stirner has taken an interest in a variety of art, and has developed a large collection of African and Pre-Columbian pieces. While he does not directly reference this art in his own, it has had an unconscious effect on him and his artwork. "A piece of art doesn't have external dictates, it's all from within," said Stirner. Often labeled a minimalist, Stirner described his sculpting process as "trying to do what is absolutely essential to get to my ends." Stirner's work is primarily concerned with the formal elements involved in the sculpture. Stirner has worked with iron for much of his life, and has recently begun to incorporate photographs into his sculpture, as is evident in this exhibition. "Barbara's room," a piece Stirner created four years ago, is an iron encasing with an enlarged photograph inside. To view the photograph, visitors must peer into the sculpture from above. The photograph is of a young and beautiful bride. Stirner's pieces often deal with this young woman, his former wife, who committed suicide not long after they were married. "It's been many years, and it never goes away," Stirner said of the piece. Because of the beauty and nostalgia that is called to mind by the image, there is an inherent sweetness to the piece. However, at the same time, "Barbara's room" evokes a sense of death, as it resembles both a shrine and a coffin. The contrast between the well-defined lines and edges of a piece of metal, and the visual complexity of a photograph is quite striking. The duality experienced in viewing this piece is a common characteristic of much of Stirner's work. "Fleisch," is a two-part sculpture that consists of two curved iron pieces atop tables that are equal in height. There are small ridges on the sculptures, and the overall effect is both of sensuality and morbidity. This is captured in the title, which stands for the German word for both "flesh" and "meat." In "Barbara 1," a 55-gallon drum is compressed to simulate the shape of a brain A single bolt is placed within, evoking the nature of Stirner's wife's death. This part of the sculpture sits on a metal I-beam. "Barbara 2" recalls the image of a Renaissance-style grave. In this piece, a figure made of a compacted steel pipe in the shape of a torso lies on top of a flat iron surface, mimicing the recumebent figures often found on Renaissance tombs. The materials that Stirner uses come from many different sources. He and his assistant Carl Disastio have found metal in places like railroad tracks and scrap-yards. The older pieces of metal that they discover will often bring something unique to the art, whether it is a rusted surface or a shade of paint that is deliberately left untouched in the metal-working process and adds a depth to a final piece This display is Stirner's first solo exhibition in New England.
Throughout his fairly prolific career, Moby has never been afraid of experimentation, which, as one would expect, yields a decidedly mixed bag of results. Over the course of his numerous albums, Moby has embraced eclecticism as much as an electronic artist can; that is, while still remaining within his chosen genre.
In displaying the works of so many artists who live in the Boston area, common themes are bound to be addressed. With each artist, however, comes a unique story and perspective. The artists in the latest installment of the ongoing thesis exhibition series at the Tufts galleries take full advantage of their designated space, and even exceed it: much of their artwork spreads from the floor to the walls and ceiling, in a variety of mediums. Lior Neiger originally came to the Museum School program from Israel to paint. However, for the past two and a half years he has immersed himself in a new language, and has found that his artwork has shifted as well. Lior learned to "talk" computer, and began to explore themes in technology and the metaphorical relationship it has with society. Neiger presents paintings, video and photographs in what he has termed "Constellation Art." Works in each medium stand on their own, but they have obvious connections in color, form and content. His video, "Dead Pixels," explores the disturbing connection between technological viruses and real-life epidemics, with many other subtexts at work. He takes the typical landscape desktop image and, over the course of his video, morphs it into a rotating globe. The number of AIDS victims over the past year appears over each continent, numbers which Neiger must continually update. Text in html runs across the screen with alerts like "virus suspected," and continues on with the more complacent "your monitor is working correctly." The display has a grace and balance that is hard to find in modern artwork. Although it has a definite resonance and triggers thought on social patterns and injustices, the exhibit does not overpower or attempt to shock you. Leah Bedrosian looks at the interplay between fiction and reality. She has designed an artificially Armenian dating website (Armeniandate.net), complete with photos and profiles of each site member. Accompanying the cyber component of her work are large photographs that display each member in their day-to-day environment. There is, of course, a disparity between their profiles and their images. "I am working towards one day becoming President of the United States. I work really hard and am a dedicated and motivated person," reads the description of one cyber member, Future President, an "Armenian by association." His photographed image is not of a man hard at work, but instead, of a disheveled young blond man in a shirt and loosened tie, drinking Carlo Rossi. Bedrosian's photographs are very large, and have an evident fictive quality to them, as items are strategically placed to tell a story and characters are often portrayed in a satirical light. Juniper Perlis explores fantasy and reality in a different vein. She joined the Masters program two and a half years ago with the knowledge that her father had a house in Somerville. Although she hadn't seen him in 20 years, while studying at the Museum School Perlis became obsessed with searching for him, and her art explores her emotions about the search. Her work is inspired by the outside of his two houses, the one in Somerville and the one he lives at in Newfoundland, both of which she visited many times without her father knowing. With the opening of the exhibit approaching, she wrote to her father and invited him to come see it, telling him what she'd been doing for the past few years. "A part of it is my inability to distinguish between reality and fantasy," said Perlis of her work. Her voyeuristic approach seems to have prolonged this confusion. Another pseudo-spy is Gina Dawson, whose work, "Movie Star Homes," looks at the lure of celebrities and their personal estates. She has stitched a map of Hollywood and the homes of the stars, her research drawn from hours upon hours of television footage from their mansions. Hilary Baldwin's work consists of an array of many objects, some real, some false. For example, a string of lights appears to hang from the ceiling; in reality they are just decoration pieces used by storefronts. "Many of these objects are icons from city life. They show the reality and falseness of the urban landscape," said Baldwin. Also showing their thesis work this month are Nicole Arendt, Yvonne Boogaerts, Amy Finkelstein, Aimee LaPorte, Evelyn Rydz, Erin M. Sadler and Tim Saltarelli. Viewing the work of these 12 artists provides a rather comprehensive look at themes that are being explored in modern art today. All artists are part of the Joint Graduate Degree Program of Tufts University and SMFA, Boston. The exhibit opens today, and the artists will be present at the opening reception held on Thursday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Walking into a life-size gerbil cage, complete with floor shavings and a water tube, is not something a person gets to do everyday. But for those who have ever wanted to empathize with their favorite hamster or bird and see things from its point of view, then "PE(s)T," the new exhibit at the Atlantic Works Gallery, is the thing to see. A collaborative installation between artists Liz Nofziger and Peter Pizzi, "PE(s)T," asks what it is that transforms an animal from an unwanted nuisance into a member of the family. According to the creators, an animal becomes a pet when it has been invited into a human's world and is given a home. With that in mind, the artists have converted the entire gallery into an interactive playpen to show what that "home" might feel like to its inhabitants. The shock value of the installation is its greatest asset. Bars are painted on the walls to indicate the cage-like nature of the piece, and the floor is several inches deep with wood chips and hay. A gerbil tube and a bird perch have been created to human scale. Visitors are encouraged to crawl and swing their way through the exhibit. "We are playing with perspective, making the familiar unfamiliar and inaccessible" Nofziger said. Also life-sized are the food and water containers (the pellets are made from Dunkin' Donuts' Crullers), as well as papier-m??ch?© excrements scattered around the gallery. Tellingly, the humor is not lost on the artists. Nofziger and Pizzi both have full-time day jobs as an artist's assistant and photographer, respectively. They were interested in creating an installation on their own, however, so they worked together to form the theme and setup of "PE(s)T." Despite careful planning beforehand, it still took the pair five days to fully install the exhibit. With so much time and energy devoted to this project, one might guess that Nofziger and Pizzi are animal fanatics. In fact, Pizzi is an animal lover and has several pets of his own. On the other hand, Nofziger doesn't particularly like animals and has no interest in being responsible for pets. This difference in interests gives the installation a dynamic voice and a multitude of readings. The atmosphere they created, for example, can be seen either as a playroom full of colorful toys and fun distractions or as an inescapable prison. In one area of the wall, the bars take on three-dimensional form. Behind them is an alcove which the artists have turned into a small living room with a sofa, TV, and other human items. This is the one familiar space in the installation, but the bars prevent the viewer (and make-believe pet) from accessing it. This emphasizes the role-reversal that is taking place; the visitor now becomes the display. There is, however, a peephole behind the living room through which viewers are allowed to sneak a peek. Not only that, but the TV in the living room, visible through the hole, is also playing surveillance footage of the room. This provides yet another vantage point on the whimsical yet unnerving world that Nofziger and Pizzi have devised. Perspective is compounded many times over in "PE(s)T" by the strange juxtapositions of space and size. In viewing humans from the inside of an animal's world, visitors begin to question the purpose of the imprisonment and who or what it actually benefits. As Nofziger sways back and forth on the bird perch/human swing suspended from the ceiling, it is clear that she relishes her creation and wants everyone else to enjoy it as well. She and Pizzi will be hosting an Easter egg hunt in the installation on Easter Sunday, and they welcome anyone to stop by. "PE(s)T" succeeds in attacking a concept with real but lighthearted intent. It illuminates the relationship between humans and animals by taking the viewers out of the familiar and into the containment to which many people subject their most beloved pets. Love it or hate it, it's an undeniably original experience which will subsequently make a person look at any caged animal in a very different light.
It's tempting to write off Thievery Corporation as lounge music: a horrible term which brings to mind pretentious New York hipsters wearing light colored sunglasses at night, always seeming high on something, and hanging out at dimly lit clubs with cooler-than-thou DJs. Yet Thievery's latest album, "The Cosmic Gate" is more complex than that, taking the listener through a whirlwind of psychedelic beats, intriguing lyrics sung by guest artists, and styles borrowed from a variety of cultures. The journey begins in indie-rock America and moves from there to Jamaica, Brazil and India. The album opens with "Marching the Hate Machines (Into the Sun)." The opening sounds suspiciously like Massive Attack's "Teardrop" until the entrance of a very weird voice: Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips. This is one of Thievery's most political songs and sets the album's tone of protest. Coyne's opening line is: "Let's start by/making it clear/Who is the enemy/Show them/That it's not them/Who is superior." Coyne's voice is distorted and there is a melodic chorus of voices in the background. The piece stands as a departure from the band's earlier work. The world tour continues in Jamaica, with one of the strongest songs on the album, "Warning Shots." On this track, Thievery blends jungle MCs and their usual Rude Boys references with a hard, psychedelic backbeat. The echoes and the distortion are on par with any Thievery album, but the addition of the jungle MC makes it more unique. "The Cosmic Gate" is full of guest vocalists, including Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction and David Byrne of Talking Heads. There are also several less famous additions, most of them Indian or Brazilian artists. The use of so many different styles adds variety to the album, yet the group manages to keep the album cohesive through their signature psychedelic style and the use of African drums, which appear on several songs. The best of the Indian influenced songs is "Doors of Perception," featuring Gunjan. Thievery effectively mixes the unique, traditional sound of the sitar with lofty electronica melodies. The vocalist does not sing words; instead she just produces melodic tones. In the middle of the song, very suddenly, a hardcore drum beat begins. The m?©lange produced by the sitar, the voice and the drums makes this one of the more unique songs on the album. "The Cosmic Gate" is a good album for its genre, thanks to the heavy blending of cultural music and trip-hop, yet the album has a few boring songs interspersed in between the more creative tracks. "Satyam Shivam Sundaram" and "Amerimacka" are not particularly interesting unless the listener is on enough drugs to make roller coasters appear in front of him, while "The Heart's a Lonely Hunter" - the song featuring David Byrne - simply makes no sense. Byrne sings, "Welcome to my spaceship/you're beautiful forever." The beats are interesting but Byrne's lack of coherence takes something away from the song. A drawback to the Thievery duo's music is pretension. It is very difficult to make a lounge music album unpretentious, and Garza and Hilton sometimes go too far in trying to be creative and different. The use of Indian Bhangra was creative on one or two songs, but by the fourth Indian song, it is no longer innovative. Artists must take care when adopting other cultures' fashions in their music and not forget their own personal style, which in Thievery's case, more closely resembles Portishead and Massive Attack than Astrud Gilberto.
The Daily's job, with respect to the fine-arts world, is to reflect and comment upon what's being put out there. This semester, we've seen quite a bit of art that has raised a few questions. We've seen a controversial dead lamb encased in a formaldehyde solution by Damien Hirst, 7,500 gates installed in Central Park, and you may even have heard about the mock-gates made out of toothpicks by a man in Somerville - so why not showcase cars as works of art? And why not cars owned by designer Ralph Lauren? Actually, a link between fashion and cars is not so ill-conceived. After all, Vanna White stood next to innumerable cars during her career on "Wheel of Fortune" wearing just as many different dresses. And then there's that annoying Buick commercial with the woman wearing a succession of slinky dresses to match the cars. In 1920s France and Italy, automotive beauty contests called concours d'elegance came into prevalence. At these shows, fashion designers would present their designs and provide live models to accompany the cars. While the cars at the MFA don't have models by their sides waving at the crowd, it is clear that many of them are there because of their good looks. Or is it what's inside that counts? The 1937 Bugatti Type 57 SC Gangloff Drophead Coupe had it all when it was put out. This model, which reflects the sleek and low-profiled style of its time, clocks in with a top speed of 115 mph, and has an added supercharger to increase its power. Ralph's 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder was also noted for its appealing aesthetics, somehow using spiders as a gimmick to make this car seem cute. This is the model that James Dean crashed in, resulting in both his death and an increase in sales thereafter. It was not unusual for the Californian elite to latch onto a particular model. The 1950 Jaguar XK120 Alloy Roadster, for which the company planned the production of only 200 vehicles, became a quick success and was owned by both Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Among the vehicles showcased are Bugattis, Porsches, Jaguars, Mercedes, Ferraris, Alpha Romeos and McLarens. No American cars are present, and there are cars on display that were never even geared toward an American market. The dynamic 1988 Porsche 959 AG, which has an all-wheel drive designed for multiple usages as a road car, race car, and rally car, are only owned by a few people within the United States. The 1933 Bugatti Type 59 Grand Prix gets the award for character. The radiator is shaped like the archway leading into the city of Molsheim in France, the home of the Bugatti factory. Adorning the outside are leather straps and external brake lines. This one caps at 135 mph, though given its antique appearance, this might not be something you'd want to try at home. Also of note is the Bugatti Atlantic, which has an exposed seam that runs down the spine of the car. If cars are linked to fashion, then the body of a car is unavoidably associated with the human body, most traditionally with the female body. Phrases such as "she's my baby" or "is she running hot?" come to mind. Well, lets just say, no such thing could be uttered of this particular model. Along with the cars, the MFA presents profiles of the manufacturers and designers of each type of vehicle, with an implied postulation that each personality is reflected in the respective car's design. Enzo Ferrari, who took equal interest in opera, journalism, and car racing, presided over the design of each of his models, giving his personal input on line, form and other aesthetics. Ferdinand Porsche was an amazing and innovative engineer who by his early twenties designed the first hybrid car. Funny how that was over one hundred years ago, and they still haven't caught on, eh? In case visitors forget that these cars belong to Ralph Lauren, there are videos playing inside the gallery to remind them. One features Ralph Lauren driving on the grounds of the Crane Estate in Ipswich MA, with wind flying through his hair and long shots of the mansion and greens in the background. These videos invoke both the sense of elitist beauty that is inherent in the cars themselves, and also the $22 entrance fee that burns a hole in visitors' wallets. Let's see ... there were about 200 people in the gallery, which puts ticket sales for the 11:00 viewing at loosely ... $4,400 dollars. With a day's worth of ticket sales, someone could be well on their way to purchasing a hybrid.
When the housing lottery treats you wrong, deadlines for those lengthy summer internship applications draw ever closer, and you don't even want to think of that 15-page paper you have due next week, it's easy to long for the comforts of kindergarten: construction paper came in every conceivable color, scissors were made for lefties and righties alike, and who can forget the familiar taste of paste? But why stop at mere nostalgic reverie when you can grab some friends and hop on the T for a short trip to Central Square, the home of Art Interactive, where you can indulge in some creative R&R and color outside the lines to your heart's content. Founded in 2001, Art Interactive is a non-profit gallery dedicated to showcasing experimental, participatory works while fostering self-expression and communal interaction. It takes a while to find its decidedly unobtrusive entrance (the bland, brown building has only a small sheet of paper tacked to the door to let you know you're in the right place). However, soon after ringing the bell, visitors are ushered inside to the unique 2,500-square foot space, whose foyer is currently graced by a Technicolor flock of cranes, an installation created by local origami artist Andrew Anselmo, who will be hosting a workshop at the gallery on March 24. The white walls of the main gallery provide a blank canvas, while huge windows look out to the colorful chaos that is Central Square; the templates for the projects are scattered about, and this main room is also home to the workstations, aquamarine booths where you'll find all the supplies you need to take part in this interactive experience. The current exhibition, "The Paper Sculpture Show," which runs through March 27, explores the manifold potential of this humblest of mediums. Organized by Cabinet Magazine, Independent Curators International, and SculptureCenter, the show invites guests to create 3-D paper projects designed by the 29 featured artists, and thus the works on display are all produced by the visitors-turned-collaborators. By blurring the line between artist and observer, this innovative exhibition asks open-ended questions about the nature of art: can anyone ever really own a work of art? And at what point is a work truly finished? The playful assemblage of projects includes everything from origami-esque polygons to build, to a village of witches to burn. Some of the projects are just plain silly, like David Shrigley's "Paper Sculpture," whose directions tell you to "earmark the westernmost corner of the starboard half," before "puckering the evenly-divided plane," all to take you to the one-word 22nd step: unfold. Tah dah! You're left with your masterpiece ... a crumpled piece of paper. Be forewarned: some of the projects are seriously challenging, like Ellen Wetmore's "Paper Pandalus." A pandalus, for those weak in crustacean classification, is a type of crayfish, and Wetmore's lengthy instructions detail all the cuts, lateral compressions, and manual maneuverings needed to assemble the impressive 3-D model. Perhaps because of the challenging nature of some of the projects, many patrons chose to forgo the directives altogether and do their own thing, taking elements from different templates to fashion their own unique creations, like the bizarre dreamscape that had been displayed near my work station. These products were, in their way, no less powerful than the ones designed by the artists, reinforcing the dynamic role of the individual in transforming the two-dimensional materials into unique 3-D objects. I decided to tackle a project designed by Ester Partegas, entitled "Things You Don't Like," which involved creating a recycling receptacle into which I would discard all my failings, written down on the paper provided. Although it sounds corny, assembling the project was a calming, meditative experience, and afterwards I felt a lovely sense of catharsis at "recycling" all my flaws into a work of art (I am, of course, using the term "art" very generously here) that would remain with the collection. So whether you are seeking to indulge your passion for art, aching to prove to your friends that you're indie-er-than-thou, or are simply stressed out by your studies and in need of a few moments of kindergarten bliss, Art Interactive is a most offbeat and enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.
Viewing Damien Hirst's exhibition is a physically altering experience. It's hard to put a finger on it, but it may have something to do with the thousands of fly carcasses that are glued onto a square frame on the wall and exude an odor which suffuses its way through the Foster Gallery. If visitors can overcome the temptation to purge these feelings that Hirst's work inspires, the unfortunate first impression may just morph into something that is closer to infatuation. The MFA exhibit is made up of a collection of Hirst's past works. Almost directly in front of the entrance is a piece entitled "Away from the Flock," a lamb in a glass container filled with formaldehyde. Though it seems counterintuitive when looking at his more morbid works, Hirst was raised in a religiously observant household, and his concern for the sacred is a prevalent theme in his work. He has determined that his belief in art is similar to a belief in God and that the two are therefore linked. In "Flock," Hirst succeeds quite literally in preserving the symbol of the sacrificed Christ, yet he also makes a spectacle of it. It's hard to figure out whether to pray or laugh while viewing this piece and the materials used heading on the museum plate, which reads, "Steel, glass, formaldehyde solution, and lamb." Animals, alive and dead, make up much of the material of Hirst's work. Butterflies are one of his many fascinations. In a quotation that accompanies one piece, "The Unbearable Likeness of Being," Hirst declares, "You need to find universal triggers. Everyone's frightened of glass, everyone's frightened of sharks, everyone loves butterflies." To show us exactly how much we love butterflies, Hirst has ripped the wings off of their dead bodies and created an aesthetically gratifying pattern with them on a light green backdrop. What were once beautiful living creatures, in this new form, are suggestive of both life and death. The overall impression is that of a stained glass window in a church, which shares the idea of preservation that the lone lamb evokes, but strongly portrays a sense of religious eternity. "The Collector" consists of an animatronic man inside a greenhouse made of glass, who is intently examining a dead butterfly, while live ones flutter all around him. He is a virtuoso so focused on his study that he is unaware of anything around him, and this gives the piece a Frankenstein-like quality. Perhaps to accentuate this eerie mad scientist aspect, there are broken glass jars with pigs' blood spilling out in each corner of the greenhouse in the piece, as well as a small plastic anatomy model with its guts spilling out onto the floor in front of the concentrating collector. Hirst's quote links the piece to the prettiness of girls and the preservation of beauty. Hirst demonstrates another tie between religion and art in "Is Nothing Sacred" (1997), a medicine cabinet with a very neatly displayed array of old medicine boxes and bottles. His attention to color and arrangement is apparent in this piece, as it is arranged in such a way that it would be sacrilege to remove anything from it: a very tempting sacrilege. This work was inspired by his mother's skepticism towards his art. She displayed a similar lack of understanding of both his art and of medicine, yet had complete trust in pharmaceuticals. He wanted to create something that demonstrated the relationship between these two seemingly opposite institutions. In his work, Hirst embraces opposing forces: life and death, beauty and disgust, heaven and hell; and even his critics seem to maintain inner dualities when considering his work. Media coverage has been a double edged sword for him, and has been concerned as much with his character as with his artwork. The often humorous titles of his work bring about the question: is Damien Hirst an innovative and talented artist or a hip young Brit with a sick sense of humor? After all, this is the guy whose band, Fat Les, sang the football-themed hit "Vindaloo." In 1988, when Hirst was a graduate student at Goldsmith's College in London, he organized an exhibition, "Freeze", which displayed his work and the work of 16 other students and helped to fuel the Young British Artist's movement. After the exposure he gained from "Freeze," Hirst went on to create his seminal piece, "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living"(1991), a tiger shark suspended in a tank filled with formaldehyde. In 1995, Hirst won the Turner Prize for art, and despite his mixed critiques, he has greatly influenced the contemporary art world. His work is indisputably dependent on their shock value, but it is up to the viewer to see what emotions are invoked after the initial shock of it. The artist himself, now approaching age 40, has moved away from making the sculptures that are on display at the MFA, and is about to open his first painting exhibition in New York on March 11.
The two spring exhibits currently on display at the Tufts University Gallery consequently form an interesting dichotomy; though one examines the world of young girls today and the other questions societal restrictions on their more mature counterparts, both "Girl Culture" and "Time Signatures" question our perception of the female form and force viewers to examine the societal pressures that shape the lives of all kinds of women. "Time Signatures" is the work of artist Barbara Zucker. The project's roots go back to 1989, when Zucker began a series of work called "For Beauty's Sake," which was based on the processes involved with plastic surgery. But her artwork evolved into something else in 1998, when Zucker began taking photographs of herself and of other mature women and then translating their facial wrinkles into prints and three-dimensional sculptures. The pieces that resulted from her project, perhaps fittingly, don't quite look as one would expect them to. They are twisted and curling, balancing against the walls, made out of rubber and metal and even Plexiglas. One stands over five feet tall in the center of the room, matching the height of the subject who donated her photograph for it. "They all started out right side up. I was being literal and dutiful," Zucker said. "But then I decided that they should go whatever way they look good. They evolved into moving parts that could change according to the space." The sculptures are all created from photographs, and stay true to the wrinkles in the faces of the pictured women. The subjects include Zucker herself (part of the back of her neck is on display on the left-hand wall of the exhibit) and several of her friends, as well as one piece that was made from a picture of artist Georgia O'Keefe. "I came up with the idea that wrinkles, fissures, lines on faces - female faces - are not in and of themselves ugly; it is the culture that tells us they are ugly," Zucker said. Zucker also created a 15-foot-tall piece specifically for the exhibit entitled, "Lilian's Face Flowing," with the help of a grant from the Artist's Resource Trust of New England. Her newest creation was made onsite and hangs cascading down from the second story of the Remis Sculpture Court. "I lurk in the margins. I do want to make a difference, no matter how small," Zucker said. "I would like women to feel better about the complex, amazing maps of their faces. And I would like men to like looking at these women, too. But equally, I want to flay my skin, and rail against the ravages of time." "Girl Culture," the first exhibit to open this week in the Aidekman Arts Center, was put together by award-winning photographer Lauren Greenfield as part of an attempt to examine the daily lives of girls everywhere. It consists of 58 photos and a series of corresponding interviews that provide a vivid look into the world of young women today. The series of photographs captures the lives of girls across the country and presents a wide cross-section of American females. Greenfield's youngest subject, six-year-old Lily, claims Britney Spears as her role model and shops for clothes in the ritzy Rachel London's Garden. Her statement says that, "I really want to be a teenager. Now. Really fast." In another shot, attendees at a weight loss camp wait uncomfortably on the beach in their bathing suits. Statements from some of them describe how, even in the camp setting, the thinnest and prettiest girls became the most popular. Further along in the series, four girls, barely old enough to be teenagers, pose in heavy makeup before their first dance, looking like they belong more in "Vogue" than in middle school. Greenfield captures the rituals associated with the everyday lives of girls everywhere, from daily routines of putting on makeup three times a day to the elaborate preparations involved in getting ready for one's high school prom. Rather than glorifying these rituals, Greenfield's works always question if too much importance has been put on looking good and fitting in, and the subjects of the photographs grow more serious as one moves farther into the exhibit. The vivid, often emotionally raw statements from many of her subjects compliment the photographs and often reveal another side to the pictured girls. These are the stories that rarely make the cover pages of a newspaper or magazine, but they are real and present in the lives of young women everywhere. The darker sides of culture and peer pressure today are often hidden away or ignored, but Greenfield shows absolutely no hesitation in bringing avoided issues to the forefront. Her photographs show teenage mothers and a 24-year-old anorexic, made so anxious by the thought of weight gain that she has to stand backwards on the scale. It is also hinted that this cycle, as condemnable as it is, is self-perpetuating. A statement from a young girl that appears at the beginning of the exhibit, talks about how she wants to become a topless dancer when she grows up. Later, 24-year-old Leilani describes how she was forced to choose between working as a topless dancer to put herself through college and her place on the school's track team after her coaches found out and disapproved. These issues are not easily confronted, but Greenfield's simple, freeze-frame style captures many of her subjects in their most real moments. Her effort to photograph girls as they really are provides an accurate look into the culture of girls and young woman. If Greenfield's work questions the state of young girls today, then the second new exhibit in the Aidekman gallery celebrates and challenges how we perceive the women that these girls will one day become. Artist Lauren Greenberg speaks tonight in the Cohen Auditorium at 7 p.m.
Walking into Gallery NAGA, coolly removing the Beatnik shades and preparing to play art critic for the day, there's a disconcerting surprise. The moving holographic images on the walls portray lifelike images: a man kneeling down closely observing the room, and a family of three smiling in greeting. At first, this voyeurism is unnerving. But as the realistic eyes of these holographic portraits invite examination, they also welcome viewer engagement. These are the exhibited holographs of Harriet Casdin-Silver, one of a dual-artist exhibition at the NAGA Gallery on Newbury Street this month. The two types of work featured in the exhibit are unconventional and unique. Casdin-Silver is an 80-year-old master artist, and co-exhibitionist Reese Inman makes her gallery debut. Though both artists are at very different, if not opposite, stages in their artistic lives, they both incorporate the conventional arts as well as the use - and even the abuse - of technology. Casdin-Silver is recognized worldwide for her innovative use of holography, and the exhibit also includes some of her more recent photography prints. She has bravely expanded the boundaries of holographic art by portraying images that convey a sense of sincerity and compassion. A particularly touching hologram image of a couple sitting together captures the precise moment when the man lays his head on the woman's shoulder. Since the only times one ever really sees holograms are on credit cards and such, viewers will be astounded by how moving Casdin-Silver's illusions can be. After looking at Silver's "Holographic Portraits and Other Work" exhibit, viewers move beyond a wide column that almost divides the gallery in half and arrive among walls covered by the work of Reese Inman, whose underlying messages aren't so easily grasped as Casdin-Silver's. By combining her background as a computer programmer, designer, and artist, Inman creates the "Algorithm Map Series." This series consists of a number of square panels with an array of multi-colored dots arranged in algebraically significant patterns. It is a wondrous blending of mathematics and art and is a powerful message of the "technology overload" in our modern society. On the surface, Reese's work is a bunch of painted dots, but her work is much deeper than that - almost esoteric. Granted, many may characterize art in general as an obscure field, but even an ardent lover of the arts could struggle to understand the meaning behind Inman's work. A quick trip to the curator's information booth provides a guide to Inman's seemingly random dots. Upon closer inspection, there is a rhythmic flow to each painting, created by individual software that allowed Inman to create a unique algorithmic pattern. More people than mathematicians can appreciate that. With a little research, it's easy to have respect for Inman's challenging and risky nature. Overall, the exhibit was probably not the most riveting gallery experience, mostly due to the minimal selection displayed for both artists. Although it is understandable given the size of the gallery and exhibit, the small collections don't allow viewers enough time to immerse themselves in the artists' work. Despite this, however, Gallery NAGA is undoubtedly enjoyable and thought-provoking.
With the advent of visual media in the last century many artists have emerged from behind the canvas to become public figures, even icons, in their own right. The new exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art(ICA), "Likeness: Portraits of Artists by Other Artists," explores this phenomenon, creating a role reversal in which the artist is the subject. Composed by admirers, friends and peers of the artists, the gallery walls hold the countenances of familiar figures like Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, David Hockney and Chuck Close, as well as those of less well known faces. Each work plays off of the collaboration between the two artists and, through medium and content, seeks to deliver its own message about art and self. Deborah Kass's 1994 collaboration with Cindy Sherman provides what is perhaps the most complex and intriguing portrait of the show. On a large silkscreen ink and acrylic diptych inspired by 1960's pop art, Sherman's face stares back at you under the guise of Liza Minelli. Famous for her self-portraits, in which she arranges herself into different characters, Sherman comments on society's stereotypes and preconceptions. Her portrait, though initially startling, asks the viewer to question the idea of celebrity. Andy Warhol, the man who called himself a "superstar" and his studio a"factory," sits in the same room in a piece by Richard Misrach. The portrait, a bullet-hole riddled photograph of Warhol in a Vidal Sassoon ad, interestingly references both Warhol's actual shooting and the irony of his position as a pop-culture icon. As one might expect, the attempted collaboration of two artists in the production of a single work can be difficult. Three primary options are available to the artists: they can choose to collaborate equally, be truly loyal to the subject's style, or rely on the vision of the artist. The artist has to decide what style, medium, and format will most appropriately reflect his peer and will produce his desired statement. Portraiture and viewer interest in images of human beings have existedfor millennia, in every imaginable form. From honest and intimate, to deceiving and propagandistic, according to the individual goals of the creator, they are windows into the consciousness of both the painter and the painted. In the ICA, one will find media ranging from photography to watercolor, with executions even more far reaching. As you might expect, most of the pieces in the show put a twist on the idea of the traditional portrait. For example, Heather Cantrell's photo of well-known feminist Mary Kelly shows her seductively lounging by a pool, showing how even photographs can mask reality. David Robbins, on the other hand, decides to use a basic approach to hissubjects in "Talent" (1986). Lined along the wall are head shots of variousartists, mimicking those in actors' portfolios. "Contemporary art," he observes, "is kind of intellectual show business." He reminds us that artists can be both intellectual commentators and publicly recognized figures. Not only does "Likeness" have a great collection of work by noteworthy artists, but it also makes you think about the core ideas behind them, showcasing the many paths artists have taken over time to answer questions about their purpose, their place in society, and the degree to which their work should be associated with their identity.
It turns out that Kill Bill's Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are not the only ones educated in the way of the warrior. Since the rise of the warrior class in twelfth-century Japan, samurai were fascinated by the sport of falconry, the training of hawks and falcons to kill smaller animals for them. But Japanese interest in the falcon did not stop there. These birds of prey developed into a much larger symbol within society. Artwork that explores the falcon's relevance to Japanese society is now on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, in an exhibition entitled "Pursuits of Power: Falconry and the Samurai, 1600 - 1900." With the appointment of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603 came the Edo (Tokyo) period of Japanese history. This period marked, among other things, progress in economic development, urbanization, foreign trade and stability. And it is due to this time of relative peace that the samurai educated themselves not only in martial arts, but in literature and the arts, and began commissioning and collecting artwork themselves. In this artwork, the falcon and hawk came to represent the authority and power held by the Samurai. On the museum wall hangs a series of large flat wooden panels covered with cloth, which are decorated with ink drawn scenes. When viewed in order, these panels make up a hunting tale. The narrative style of story-telling is used often in the artwork of this period, and is effective in portraying the partnership established between the warrior and falcon, a physical and mental balancing of power that the samurai came to be known for. Edo was the center of all art and commerce during these years. In order to foster growth in Edo, provincial rulers were required to spend every other year there, and brought artwork back to their respective provinces. Visitors can view popular prints called Surimono, which were privately commissioned during this period. These prints celebrate the intellectual power that flourished with Japan's developments. They contain images and scenes, typically of falcons or hawks in nature, which are accompanied by literary references and puns that have some correlation to the image. Unfortunately the museum does not offer translations, and a working knowledge of Japanese characters is necessary to interpret them. Other birds appear in the artwork of this period as well, and are presented in the exhibit as a symbol of change. Birds depicting a panoramic scene on an elaborate hand scroll situated in the center of the room reflect the different seasons in which the warriors hunted. For example, the presence of chicks would mark spring or early summer, as this was the time they were taken from the wild for use in falconry. Temporal change is not all that is mirrored, however. The exhibition draws a parallel between the falcon's evolution into a symbol of authority in Japanese artwork, and the shift of the government from a physical power to a political one. As the political economy developed, so did the art and culture. Two 6-panel folding screens, used to divide rooms during social events, stand side by side in a glass case, on each panel the image of a different bird of prey. Owned by a warrior, the screens showcased the number of birds he had obtained and trained and were symbols of his status. When falcons could not be afforded, such panels as these would be an admissible backup. And like every glory-signifying symbol in society, falcons and hawks became popular emblems on clothing and accessories (see Woody Allen's "Picking Up the Pieces"). Silk embroidered hawks decorate robes called uchikake, typically worn by warriors' wives. Jewelry and figurines are also on display. This exhibition is a great example of how the tracing of one object or symbol can uncover much larger trends in society. The political shifts in Japan during the Edo period and the relationship that existed between art and society at the time are well represented by the falcons presence in Japanese artwork.