Monday, June 3, 2013

Object Lab Day 1

Today was the first day of the Chipstone Foundation's Object Lab!

I've been able to have the opportunity to go to Milwaukee and study objects, such as decorative arts like furniture and ceramics, and art curation and history with a group of other students from all over the country. Today, I was sent by train to the Milwaukee Art Museum and grabbed my camera and started to take photos:

Getting off the train...

And to the museum!

When we first arrived, we read and discussed the poem "A Sort of Song" by William Carlos Williams

Let the snake wait under
his weed
and the writing
be of words, slow and quick, sharp
to strike, quiet to wait,
-- through metaphor to reconcile
the people and the stones.
Compose. (No ideas
but in things) Invent!
Saxifrage is my flower that splits
the rocks. 

We began to tour the museum, first to see the Chipstone Exhibit Space

The first thing we found about the Chipstone Exhibit was that all these chairs were out on the floor to sit in!

See any famous chairs? (designers, you can pick them out.. right?) What was really cool about this is they had us all sit in them..

We then talked about how they felt to sit in, and what each meant to that person as they experienced the chair. Mine (the white lounge chair of course) felt "springy"and made me think it was somewhat risky.

These we decided were somewhat oppressive chairs, only the one on the right was more like a Dwarf King's chair than an Emperor's throne because of how quirky it was.

We then talked about this pot.. 

which was made by a slave named Dave from the old plantation days! Not only was that bit of history cool, but he also was a crazy genius with poetry, and knew that the stories he wrote in the poems on his pots would matter someday later in the future...

We then went into this exhibit that creatively teaches us about the original museum: the Cabinet of Curiosity

This cabinet was reflecting its foliage virtues, basically how a cabinet comes from nature

Here the cabinet seems to imitate nature...

We noticed that the feet really give that away (not to mention how it looks like these animals are hanging around a tree)

Doesn't that look like a tree? From a Hitchock movie or something...  but what was really intriguing was that those animals were all taxidermy...

That whole taxidermy thing made us think more about cabinets...

Because then with this last one we figured out that the Cabinets of Curiosity were ways for humans to fit their role between creation and the divine by studying it and sharing it with others. (That may sound outdated...but thats another discussion, it also fits in with the era these existed) This really helps to reflect on our call to wonder and fascinate on the world around us, and how we've done it in the past! Look how this piece of furniture even looks like the one with all the birds on it, only these are real wood. 

That made me think about ornamentation and why it exists...

Anyways, we move on and look at other objects in the exhibit

And find a human-like chair, with arms and legs as explicit as you can get,

and this was all part of an exhibit that tells the human relationship stories of furniture pieces

which had mythology uncovered in its tables (these were owned by bankers and businessmen-symbolizing strength and stability with griffins and so on)

Then came the display that made me think the most: the narrative of death found in puritan era furniture. What I thought was so amazing was that these puritan age people were so accustomed to the idea of death that they didn't mind living with furniture pieces that specifically reminded them of it! What was interesting is that this topic is suppressed in our modern time, but it seems to have been embraced, and even emphasized back then. Some people said it was because puritans were always sick and were very serious, but I'd say that they also had a strong anticipation for the "new heavens and new earth" that was to come after their lives on earth was done. It all has to do with how since Christians are saved by Christ, they aren't afraid of death and actually look forward to it because they'll be finally with Christ and away from all the sickness and pain of the world.

That was a really cool discovery today.

This was a cool curvy chair

And this was a really great glass exhibit that I thought was such a perfect contrast to the medieval riches surrounding it

This was exciting...made of felt!

amazing abstracts...

Then we talked about it all! We also discussed in depth thoughts about the success of exhibits, curation,  museums and other arts and culture things. It was so interesting to find out that museums (after the cabinet of curiosity) were used by governments to instruct the country of the standards of living. Basically the idea of being quiet in museums came from the 19th century high standard of conduct, and all the subject matter was of art and artifacts that established cultural values and ideals. At least this is to the best of my knowledge from our discussion.

Then we went to dinner!

More posts to come, tomorrow will be jam packed with new and amazing things!

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