For our TRaC Rewind 2018, we’re looking back at some of the most interesting and thought-provoking reviews by our Teen Reviewers and Critics!
Throughout the Fall semester, Visual Arts TRaC explores various museum and galleries throughout NYC, focusing around the phrase “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”, which is borrowed by the 1971 essay of the same name by American art historian Linda Nochlin. Below are reviews from TRaCstars Britney Villeda, Mollie Smith, and Angie Cangiita.
The Dinner Party @ The Brooklyn Museum by Britney Villeda
Before entering the Dinner Party Exhibit, I was quite hesitant. I had little idea and information as to what would lay ahead of me in the room that was specialized and set for this particular exhibit. After all, it’s not every day that you learn that a part of a museum could actually accommodate a dining table art piece. When hearing about the name of the art piece, Dinner Party, my mind first wandered directly to The Last Supper, perhaps due to the similar series of events being alluded to in each piece.
Directly before entering the Exhibit, banners intricately sewn together hung on the ceiling, each a part of a larger story about women. I greatly admired these banners as I believed they added on nicely to the women empowerment art piece. The hallway was dark as it became ready to illuminate the centerpiece. I walked on.
The centerpiece was nothing as I’d imagined it. It was better. Low intensity lights cast a calm aura as they were pointed on the white, linoleum-like triangle shaped table directly underneath them. Each side of the triangle was separated by millennium markers, displaying all of the well-known women as finally having a place at the table. Every woman had a banner and sculpture that represents her; I believe the artist is arguing that every woman at the table had a voice, not only at the table, but in society. Each woman had a voice and the ability to stand up for what they believed in at times when this wasn’t accepted, which is why they are recognized throughout history.
I was most intrigued by a 1995 piece by Yolanda López entitled Women’s Work is Never Done. In the painting, masked working female farmers are shown protesting and holding up signs to signify the fight for better conditions and pay in their jobs. The women are masked to show the anonymity and lack of “voice” for many women who were going through the same difficulties. This artwork strongly relates to the Dinner Party exhibit, as it is pays homage to Dolores Huerta, the leader of this group of women, which connects to the respects paid to each of the important women at the table.
Throughout thousands of years, women are continuing to work hard and stand up to achieve their goals; this is an ideal that connects with the phrase Women’s Work is Never Done. There will be more women in the future that will continue to outshine all odds, and are known as changers of history.
Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future @ The Guggenheim by Mollie Smith
If you were to ask a random passerby in Manhattan on any day of the week who Hilma af Klint was, the odds of them knowing who she was would be relatively low. Af Klint is believed to be one of the very first abstract painters—some of her work is older than that of Kandinsky.
Yet her work is largely unknown. Why is this?
What originally drew me in the most to af Klint’s work was the knowledge that her abstract works were largely, if not entirely, based and/or inspired by her spiritual beliefs. She would host regular séances – starting off by participating in them, she was so captivated with them that she pursued and began conducting them herself. Spirituality, specifically the practice of frequent group séances, found its roots in the late 1800s America following the Civil War. Dozens upon dozens of grieving mothers sat around tables with mediums hoping for a chance to communicate with their dead sons. Although af Klint was Swedish, she was participating in a practice which had first captured the United States many years before. Af Klint was specifically fixated on the idea of her paintings being kept in a “Temple,” as she desired the spirits (the High Masters, as she called them) she spoke to in these séances. She often felt that her work was guided by the spirits themselves—that they were guiding her hand as she worked, quite literally, as she worked in the practice of automatic drawing. This fascinated me—af Klint attributed so much of her work to these spirits.
Yet she was largely ashamed to share her work—she would take photos of and sketch out a few of her pieces in a notebook and show them to her closest friends. When she showed them to one colleague, he responded in a way that left her so humiliated that she hid her work for the rest of her life—she even wrote in her will that her work could not be opened until 20 years after her death. Twenty years after her death, when the boxes of her work were opened, very few people alive had any idea what to expect.
Af Klint is a perfect example of why it is incredibly important for the art community to embrace all kinds of art. There is no telling how different things might have been if af Klint was not humiliated by her colleague—she might have spread her work, and there is no telling how that would have, and could have, changed the art community. She teaches a valuable lesson: the strange, the weird, the unexpected, are integral to the growth and change of the art community.
The Burke Prize: The Future of Craft Part 2 @ The Museum of Art and Design by Angie R. Canegiita
The piece that really stood out to me during our time at the Museum of Art and Design’s exhibition The Burke Prize: The Future of Craft Part 2 would be Colin and a Queen by Roberto Lugo. Roberto’s terracotta vases were a nice blend of urban and classical art that really stood out against the pieces surrounding it. Its vibrant colors were captivating, and at a closer inspection, you can see the artist’s many influences from urban/hip-hop and ceramics, which shows two different styles at a balance.
The craftsmanship of the piece is clearly shown in the liberty he took to decide where he wanted smoothly glazed pots and when he wanted the dryness of terracotta clay. He had notable people as the center of the piece and he used a blend of realism with the details of the people and a realistic outline with general features. This piece makes you think and dig a bit deeper because at further inspection you notice elements of the work that you miss at a first glance.