Your eyes and ears on the world of art and culture. We remind you that 18 years of back issues of eMusings can be found on our archives page.
Although we are not traveling as we once did, and surely will again, the internet allows me to bring you excellence from around the world.
Check out Tea Time in the Soy Sauce Storehouse. In the real Fukuoka Soy Sauce Gallery, you will find floating lamps that you can influence yourself. The tea cups emit 4-colored flourescent lights that react on the scene around them. Once the tea cups are empty, they lose their power. The interactive installation is based on a statement from the famous "Book of Tea", by Okakura Tenshin: " I am doing quite well with the universe and am grateful for what the universe has given me”. For only $9.25 USD you can unwind there in person. Otherwise, watch the video, relax and enjoy.
As many of you know, I have a special fondness for glass. Ben Young's glass-layered sculptures are especially enticing, described here as "Lustrous Seas of Layered Glass".
Another sculptor that creates fascinating pieces is Anthony Howe. Here we are dealing with kinetic pieces that move with the wind. Although some of them weigh hundreds of pounds, they react to the wind as though they were weightless. Watch the videos and prepare to be mesmerized.
Ahrong Kim creates colorful ceramics that I am learning may be interpreted diffently in Western culture from the way they are seen in her native Korea. For us, Kim's beautifully rendered pieces center on the head of a young woman, with seductive added elements that invite interpretation and suggest metaphor. I am told, however, that Korea is such a patriarchal society that any personification of a woman may be deemed rebellious. Women are expected to be obedient, quiet, and submissive. These women, instead, have something to say and say it loud and clear.
"People Come First" is the challenging title of an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the work of Alice Neel. It is Neel's first museum retrospective in 20 years. It stresses her commitment to social justice and humanist ideas. We see pictures of people demonstrating against fascism and racism, along with images of others suffering during the depression. Much of her energy goes into depicting New York City and the energy of its citizens. She also spares no one in her paintings of mothers, and of nude figures, some of them pregnant. Her gaze is direct and unflinching, leaving the viewer no place to hide.
A Japanese artist has used salt to recreate more than 100,000 cherry blossom petals for a solo exhibition at Satouchi City Museum of Art. Motoi Yamamoto has made several salt installations, immersing himself in the intricacies of the complex designs, in order to recreate and memorialize lost memories. In an interview with designboom, the artist describes how he sits for hours, or weeks, at a time as he turns memories into designs. His goal, he says, is to "imprint the precious memories in my heart once again." About using salt as a medium,Yamamoto says, "Since salt is a colorless, transparent crystal, it has a slightly transparent quality when viewed from up close, and it is almost as if this soft whiteness is gently receiving the contents of my heart. I also use salt because it is a difficult medium to control and results in very fragile works. Salt does not bond together, so it breaks apart immediately when touched and dissolves when affected by humidity. These traits are a negative factor in terms of maintaining and protecting the work, but this instability always reminds me that all things are subject to change and that life is finite.” Yamamoto is a recipient of the 2020 Arts United Fund.
Volumism is the concept being applied to painting using virtual reality. Artist Anna Zhilyaeva uses this technique to immerse viewers into her artificial landscapes. In her TED Talk, given in Bologna, she demonstrates not only her process but the equipment required. She titles it, "Can We Touch with Eyes". It may not turn you into an instant VR specialist, but it will give you an indication of the complexities involved.
Grant Akiyama uses clay and glazing techniques to imbue ordinary objects with meaning and importance. He also adds materials like coconut coir, perlite, vermiculite, and calcined bentonite to give added surface depth. He relates that "Eating homegrown vegetables seems to shorten that bridge between myself and the clay".
If you are a fan of Francis Bacon, you may be interested in the new biography of him titled, "Francis Bacon: Revelations" by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan. In a quote from the book, we learn that "Francis Bacon erased or denied parts of his history he didn’t like; he destroyed canvases that fell short of an impossible perfection; he couldn’t speak about himself without getting drunk first." The Pulitzer Prize-winning authors appear to have filled their 900-page opus with ample details to delight the most ardent of followers. It appears that Bacon's life, like his art, was filled with deep anxiety and ghostly contrapuntal forces. The details in this article will give you a pungent taste for what is in the book.
Ensemble for These Times (E4TT) presents The Cassandra Project, Women's Prophetic Voices, an online world premiere of their new commissioned works by women composers. As David Garner, composer and co-founder reminds us, Cassandra was "rebellious against patriarchal power and warned against war". Ensemble for These Times in now in its 13th year. The group was awarded second place in 2019 for Chamber Music Performance by The American Prize and was a 2019 Finalist in the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music. Nanette McGuinness, co-founder and Artistic Executive Director, state's the group's mission this way: " E4TT is committed to an inclusive, equitable, and diverse practice, and to ensuring that all communities—including those that have been historically underrepresented based on race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, or any other factor—are represented in our artistic decisions and programming."
A rather startling new study from Tel Aviv University in Israel finds that prehistoric cave dwellers in Europe reduced their oxygen intake when making art in order to be in more direct contact with the universe. Their hallucinogenic state appears to explain why so many early cave paintings appear in dark black tunnels, far from cave entrances. The study concludes that these artists lit fires deep within the caves, leading to hypoxia and near-death experiences. The cave paintings, mostly from Spain and France, were created between 4,000 and 14,000 years ago and mainly show animals like bison,ibex, and mammoths.
Based in Toronto, artist Ekow Nimako has used hundreds of thousands of black lego pieces to construct a universe called Afrofuturism. The term refers to the combination of technology and race to present a powerful vision of black strength. Part of a series called "Building Black", Nimako harks back to masks from tribal West Africa as well as folklore and proverbs. The architectural installation reaches over 30 square feet. The artist's own website offers further insight into his work and methods.
Art Futura 2021 brings us artists' views of what the future may hold for humans, including their 2021 feature "The Future Arrives Early". Browse the videos on the site to get a view of how the next 30 years may unfold - there are some interesting ideas here.
A calligraphy-covered Museum of the Future is under construction in Dubai. The design is mean to reflect the Dubai government's view of the future and features a ring around a void to suggest the unknown that lies ahead of us. The artchitect's designers say that they used a "growth algorithm" to "digitally grow" the internal steel structure of the building. I'm not sure what this language means, but I urge you to look at and admire the building's design.
John Portman, artist, architect and developer, was responsible for much of the city design of Atlanta, Georgia. Recently, 3 years after his death, his final design for a public sculpture was revealed on the campus of Georgia Tech, Portmam's alma mater. The sculpture, called Koan, was built of carbon fiber to withstand any high winds. Its 3 orbs are said to represent Knowledge, Research, and Creativity. Those of us who work with 3D printed forms know how difficult it is to realize designs that will withstand the elements. See, for example, Whitaker's Angel's Flight.
c. Corinne Whitaker 2021