Wabash Blogs Immersion 2009: New York Art

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Day 4 - Learning from the good and the bad

Mike Scott, Class of 2010 – Today, we went to a lot of exhibitions, plus a couple of museums.  I really enjoyed most of the individual installations, and especially the last museum, the Chelsea Art Museum.  Many of the works there were very interesting, one in particular, a wax figure of a person, the upper half of which became tree-like forms that arched and reached to the ground.  This piece was really striking to me, it brought that which is human, that is becoming consumed by technology and industry, especially in this city, and transformed it back into its organic “roots”, reminding us of what we really are and where we come from. 
Many of the installations in the individual galleries were very interesting, I liked the fact that they were not terribly mainstream, and often were unafraid to go to darker places or more crude places to get their idea across.  One installation in particular caught my interest that featured several works comprised of different cloths and cloth-like materials.  The works were very minimal, but were composed very well, and were attractive in a very whimsical and soft way. 
Much of the art here in Chelsea is very unconventional, some in good ways, some in bad.  I find, that many times, I learn so much more from a piece of art that is lacking, rather than one that gives me all the answers easy.  For example, one installation featured more photo-realist pieces, but were comprised of many unconventional items and living things in each piece.  One had a jungle camouflaged soldier with a large and heavy backpack standing on a glacier with a bear adjacent to him and fire crackers going off in the background, and as it seemed they were either in the Antarctic or North Pole, all of these items were random, and I felt like it was an attempt at highlighting the chaos of life and this world.  Now, although the pieces were painting with a very stead hand, and most things looked like they should, the works were overall very uninteresting.  The random figures and landscapes in the works were not interacting with each other, or at least, not enough, for the piece to be interesting.  They all just seemed stuck in there with no rhyme or reason, and even the fireworks were not casting brightly-colored lights onto the Antarctic water, which in this realist piece, unbalanced the reality of the composition in a way that did not compliment the work.  The artist lacked, or chose to ignore, the ability to place the figures effectively.  For me, I was able to see the artist’s faults and gain something more from his/her shortcomings rather than works that inspired me to higher goals. 
I really enjoyed today, though not as much as some of our other days here, but the art was still well worth the effort and the sore feet for the next week.  I have to admit, I wasn’t so sure I would enjoy this trip, being a country boy going to a big city like this and being overwhelmed, but I have truly been surprised in my stay here and am hopeful for the remaining days of the trip.  Thanks to all who helped this be possible, and I hope others will come to enjoy this trip as much as I have.