#occupymuseums

As a young, liberal-minded person, I’ve been generally following the #occupy movement. While appreciating the sentiment, I feel the movement mostly leaves the actual action of the activism to a  body that is made up of the same breed of rich, white, male-bodied people whom the movement is protesting against. So while not participating directly because of the lack of organization and generally the method of activism, I do hope, someday, that taxes will make more sense, even if that means that I, as an upper middle person, will be taxed more.

That aside, what really caught my attention this week was an article on the Washington Post’s website about the #occupymuseums movement.

The idea is that museums perpetuate “cultural elitism.” And yes, they do. But I don’t think the tagline of the #occupy movement applies to art museums. That one percent of the world is represented in those museums and the ninety-nine percent isn’t. Whether we like it or not, “museum art” is a part of our Western cultural consciousness and the story we tell about ourselves. I am very pro-museum institution. But I am also very pro-art outside of museums. There are art and artists who actively break down museums in their work, whether they are participating in the museum system or not.

I originally saw a mention of this movement on my tumblr (my favorite micro-blogging platform). It was paired with a Barbara Kruger piece “You invest in the divinity of the masterpiece.” Kruger is an example of an artist who breaks down the cultural elitism of museums by working in the museum system.

"You invest in the divinity of the masterpiece," Barbara Kruger, 1982, MoMA

I believe museums are less culturally elite than the prospect of these pieces of art being in the private homes of the true 1%. Maybe art is elitist because there is such a thing as art and Art, and I believe that good art exists. I believe in the canon, as much as I believe in breaking open the canon. Like I said in my post about the Barnes Foundation (An Opinion: The Barnes Foundation), the absolute most important thing to me is that people have access to art. Large, urban museums provide that. Anyone can walk into the Metropolitan Museum of Art  and see a large portion of art history. And I think that the more pressing issue which the #occupymuseums movement may be missing is that art exists outside museums. By protesting the institution, they are giving power to the institutions, by legitimatizing the notion that because museums are elitist and rich, they monopolize the best art. But there is among the best art outside of museums as well.  As an extremely canonical person (I want to study Renaissance art and Victorian literature, for God’s sake), I do tend to prioritize art that is in museums. But I also actively seek out art outside of the museum system, and I think encouraging that would help break down the elitism more.

You can’t change the institution by being angry at it; you can change it by providing it with competition. Let great art exists in museums, make great art outside of museums and provide access to everyone. That’s how you make the art world equal opportunity.

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october: yellow, anderson and family

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”-Anne Shirley

I recently posted my “fall moodboard” which focused on three movies released between 1965-1970. But I realized that that really only applies to September. Returning to school. Air changing. The Breaking Out of the Trench Coat.

October is a different story. Culturally, the beginning changes have already happened (I say culturally because in Georgia is was both 75 and 55 last week). October is aware of its identity as a fall month, while September sometimes attempts to hold on to the last grasps of summer.

In October, my inspiration is Wes Anderson. I am convinced that the man lives in a perpetual October. I actually think there are more yellow/orange skies in Anderson films than blue ones.

I told my brother today that I love the “underrated overrated folks.” My favorite baseball player is Ryan Howard of the Phillies, whose payroll is too high, admittedly, and he strikes out a lot. So people call him overrated, but I think he is wonderful and that calling him overrated looks at only one aspect of his baseball playing skills. He’s also a team leader and a great first baseman.

Another example is John Singer Sargent, my favorite painter. I love the idea that he was marginalized by his peers because he wasn’t on the surface an avant-garde painter. He appeared to be a traditional commissioned portraitist, but later examining of his art, outside the context of the Gilded Age, Sargent reveals a keen knowledge of art history and sardonic awareness of the constructs of high society life.

I feel like Wes Anderson is my “underrated overrated” director. His films are just so quirky that they seem to either be immediately beloved or immediately hated for being so beloved without any qualifications. But I honestly love him, without an ulterior motive to align myself with either the quirky hipster set, or the erudite anti-hipster set, or any set annoyed by any other set. Somehow Rushmore, The Royal Tenebaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve ZissouThe Darjeeling Limited and The Fantastic Mr. Fox are all October for me. So sure of their identities and having an awareness of their place in the world.

One thing about Wes Anderson’s characters that work so well for inspiration is that they all have uniforms. Just in the case of The Royal Tenebaums, Margo has her kohl lined eyes, fur coat, barrettes, and polo dresses, Richie, his tennis sweat bands and suits, and Chaz and his sons have their matching sweat suits.

october: margo tenenbaum

Anderson movies sort of uniforms too. Distant wives/sisters/mothers, over bearing father figures, misunderstood youths. all centering around the family. Anderson prioritizes the family and somehow contradicts the first lines of Madame Bovary by making all of his families unhappy in the same way, where they are disconnected from each other, yet don’t have identities that are not Tenenbaum, Zissou, Whitman or Fox. Maybe I love him because I feel like my largest identity marker is that of my family. A friend in high school once said “Kearneys travel in packs.” And it is so true. My family is very close and very disconnected as the same time. No member of my immediate family is just their familial role to me, there are other layers of that relationship. Though I imagine that it is true is all families. But, like Anderson’s families, we are aware of it.

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Revisiting: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konisburg

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I’ve been sick and the Phillies have been taking up a lot of my time.

But happily, I am feeling slightly better, and sadly the Phillies’ season is over, both which mean blogging with be back on track.

In my illness fog, I took the time to reread my favorite book from my childhood. I don’t think From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was ever actually my favorite book. But it definitely hold the honor of being one of my favorite books for the longest.

Two siblings, Claudia and Jamie Kincaid, run away from their suburban life to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Living there a week, the two children initially have the desire to learn everything about everything in the museum, but with the discovery of a special sculpture, Claudia makes the executive decision for the children to learn everything about this sculpture. The sculpture is a new acquisition from one Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, known for her bizarre are eye and hodge-podge collection. Claudia and Jamie learn a lot about art, each other and what is means to have an identity.

As a child, I had a large reverence for museums. This hasn’t changed since I’ve grown up, but it started at a very young age. My family spent a lot of time going to the High Museum to see this painting:

Portrait of Anne, George Bellows, 1915

The little girl in the painting is my grandmother, who passed away before I was born. When we went to the High, we went to go see Grandma Anne. Maybe that is why the concept of  “museum as home” worked so well for me in the book.

Claudia also was the oldest girl in a family that lived in suburbia and all she ever wanted to be different. Plus, though Jamie is younger than Claudia, their relationship always reminded of me and my twin brother. She has the big adventurous plans and he is very practical.

But most of all, the biggest theme in the book is the idea that knowledge makes you special and different. Claudia learns a secret about a piece of art and then she gets to go home different. Though I didn’t know it at the time, this desire is eventually what would lead me to my interests in literature and art. I feel like when I research and study art and literature I find out secrets that aren’t apparent at the first glance.

This is one of only children’s books that I think really holds up for adults as well. It still makes me cry every time I read it.

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fickle mcgee

So…I’m an English major again.

I was never officially not an English major. I was just planning on not completing my major and getting a minor. But when I was buying books for this semester, I was really sad that I wasn’t buying any English textbooks.

Plus I realized that after I get back from Florence, my Art History major will pretty much be completed. So why not?

The only thing I am anxious about is two senior theses to write in one semester. But my goal is to do most of my art research in Florence and over the summer.

One of the main reasons I thought I didn’t want to be an English major was because I didn’t feel as compelled to write about anything in literature as I did in art. But looking back at sophomore year, the literature classes I took weren’t really in my research interests. I took Jane Austen, Perspectives on Literature and British Literature after 1700. I loved all the classes, but Austen has never been what I wanted to research because I love her so much and my research interests very seldom overlap my personal interests. And it is hard to go back to big, survey classes like Brit Lit after being in small seminar classes.

But now I am in Medieval Romance which is amazing and wonderful. And I get to think about all my favorite things in literature (gender dynamics, voyeurism, religion) in the context of literature that is actually compelling to me.

I am also thinking about my senior seminar for English. I am thinking I am going to return to my Villette research from my first year class called “The Women Question in Victorian Literature.” Previous blog posts about this research are here, here and here. I focus on the protagonist’s, Lucy Snowe, relation to both theater and the Catholic Church as a voyeur to both and how her being a temporary voyeur in both situations allows for her to stop being a voyeur in her actual life.

I don’t know if I am going to stick with Villette or look at the continental Catholic Church in other Victorian novels. But that’s where I am starting!

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fall moodboard

moodboard: 1965-1970 (movies)

Something about going back to school and fall makes me want to transform into Ali MacGraw. Literally every Labor Day weekend, I become overwhelmed with the desire to watch Love Story. It is the perfect bad movie. And I un-ironically love it. The movie doesn’t take place exclusively in the fall, but the most stand out outfit is Jenny’s trench and minis. And those hats.

But thinking about Ali MacGraw and her general awesome, I realized that my style goals every fall come from exactly three movies: Love Story, The Graduate, and Bonnie and Clyde. So I made this moodboard.

As far as fashion inspiration goes, there is a very small spectrum of years that I really feel at home in, and it is the late 60′s. All my favorite music is from then and a lot of my favorite movies. Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate both came out in 1967 and Love Story was released in 1970.

I included a picture of Joni Mitchell for her awesome bangs because I am thinking about getting my hair cut again soon to include some.

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Revisiting: North by Northwest

Last year, I went on a major Alfred Hitchcock bender. At this point, I’ve seen Notorious, Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, North by Norhtwest, Psycho (on Halloween! in a movie theater!), Marnie, To Catch a Thief, Rope, Spellbound, and Suspicion. I’ve enjoyed all of them, except Marnie.

But my first and favorite Hitchcock film is North by Northwest, even after seeing movies that I think are better movies. But I think North by Northwest‘s inclusion in my top five movies of all time is really a token representation of how much I love Hitchcock. If this movie were directed by anyone else, I don’t know if it would make it. But North by Northwest has the elements of all my favorite Hitchcock films: Cary Grant, sexual tension with a blonde, identity issues, various forms of transportation and ridiculous camera work.

After watching it again for the first time since spring, I realized that there is really only one thing about the movie that I don’t like and it is Eve Marie Saint. I don’t really have a problem with the Hitchcock blonde as a thing, but I just find her a less compelling actress than Ingrid Bergman and not as sweet and beautiful as Grace Kelly.

Is North by Northwest still one of my favorite movies? Yes. But does it have a chance to be knocked out if I fall in love with another Hitchcock film more? I would say yes…except for this scene.

What’s not to love? That weird (horrible) camera work that screams “1959,” Cary Grant drunk, and the suspenseful music. It is my favorite scene in all of Hitchcock because it exemplifies what I love about him.

 

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Week One in Review

I don’t know if this semester could be more perfect. I guess I could be in Italy. But as far as US based semesters go, this is definitely the most excited I’ve been.

I’ve only attended all of my classes only once, but I enjoyed them all. The make up of the classes are a nice mix of people I know and love and people I’ve never met.

I’m officially in Cicero (Latin) at Agnes Scott since I didn’t get into Italian at Emory. But that’s okay! Cicero is by far my favorite Roman and I get to have one of my favorite professors for the first time in a language class.

I hate to say this, but how am I already being converted to a Gothic lover? Vasari would be so ashamed of me! But in Age of Cathedrals,  I’m learning that what I love about Renaissance and Baroque art (patronage, political intrigue, men in funny hats) is still happening during the Gothic period, just on a smaller scale and in multiple places, instead of just Rome.

I am so excited about the Renaissance History reading list. It really focuses on primary sources and I am all about Renaissance through Renaissance eyes. And it is pretty cool that I have Renaissance right after Cathedrals and Cicero. Because already in the readings all the Renaissance guys are poo-pooing the Gothic and yelling “CICERO. LET ME LOVE YOU!”*

The only class I am a little wary about is Feminisms and Religion. It is just so big! I don’t mind big classes that much, but the professor seems to want it really to be a discussion based class, as it should be based on the material. However, I am little worried about getting overwhelmed or lost in the conversation.

*Some historical perspective provided by yours truly

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