the coffeeshop

Continuing the Coffeehouse Tradition of Supporting Starving Artists


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Let's get real

Being an art major is really fun. I mean, you get to exercise as much creativity as you could possibly want. For example, for every project critique you get the opportunity to make up a fantastic statement of why you made your project, the deep meaning behind it, and the layers of difficult questions it arouses. I usually come up with my statement about five minutes before my presentation. Or I nod my head with that "oh yes, you really understand my artistic motivations" expression on my face when my teacher comments on the "historical references," "stimulating complexity," and "careful attention to detail" in my art.

So why all that? Can't I just say it is beautiful? HA! scoffs the art connoisseur. Beauty, what is beauty anyways? Well, contemporary art friend, I would like to point out to you that the question of "What is beauty" has been asked a thousand times in the last century, along with "What is art?" and all the other "difficult" questions of our time. These days art is only made to question modern standards and social norms. Shock value gives you extra brownie points in your exhibition. For instance, in one of my art classes I created a sculpture out of a book. I built a scene from Wuthering Heights out of...the book, Wuthering Heights. Why? Because I thought it would look cool. And I like the book. That's all. But with that reasoning I would get a B tops, so I decided to throw in the automatic A clincher: a piece of raw meat. In my scene, Heathcliff (Lover A) is digging up his dead romantic interest, Catherine (Lover B), so I decided to make Catherine out of the usual paper, and pieces of raw steak.

"Wow!" my art teacher gushes, the disturbing qualities of having a piece of raw flesh incorporated in a simple sculpture have suddenly catapulted my project into the "invocative and therefore amazing" category of art.

When I got back home, I threw out the piece of meat and put the sculpture out on our coffeetable as a nice household decoration.

I'm a little irritated by the direction of art these days. I appreciate clever artists who play with humor and irony because that always makes for a more interesting show, but those serious art critics who delve into how art evokes the "essence" of art, or beauty, or politics, or humanity, or whatever the heck the "essence" is evoking, are missing out on a big chunk of what has always been a huge part of art: aesthetics. If it is aesthetically pleasing with no underlying purpose or no other questions raised, is it no longer art? Tell that to the ancient Greeks! Tell Michelangelo that David is a one-dimensional hobbyist's creation. The REASON that questioning art, society, and pushing boundaries with art WAS successful is because it was new! it was different! it was rebellious! If you REALLY want to be a rebellious artist in this day and age, go home and paint a Mona Lisa. Spend years on a portrait that serves no other purpose than to be beautiful, and you will finally return to breaking boundaries with your art.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's raining in Manhattan

There are corpses on the ground.

Emaciated skeletons litter the sidewalks amidst puddles of grimy dark liquid.
Once upon a time I imagine they were pretty young things, female I'm sure, although now it is impossible to tell. They are disfigured beyond recognition; their spines are snapped, their once graceful arms shattered and bent at grotesque angles.
I imagine that the tattered shreds of faded black taffetta draped over their broken frames once belonged to gowns of ebony.

Once they lifted their faces to the sun.
Once they laughed at the rain with their heads held high.

And you, you are a murderer.
You produced them by the thousands, you did not love any of them, you cared nothing for their beauty, you trained them to do one thing, and when they inevitably failed, you left them to die.

They are tools to you.

She never complained when she shielded you from the blows that were raining down on your head. She gave up her looks so that you might stay warm. She gave up her life so that you might be comfortable. And when she had nothing left to give, you left her broken on the sidewalk. After all, she was dispensable.

There are corpses on the ground and umbrellas over our heads. And when they have been broken by the downpour we will discard them on the sidewalk in a puddle of rain.

Monday, July 13, 2009

That invisible world

There is a unique and comforting anonymity in flying on your own. You share a bond with the hundreds of ants milling around beside you, scurrying from terminal to terminal. You are one of a thousand and yet you are completely alone.

Flying is a world between worlds. One world is left behind in all the vividness of memories, each portion carefully selected until you have crafted the vision you want to keep with you. Another world awaits you, and whether you have been there or not, it will always be a new destination when you are on the plane.

Once you are there you have time to think, time to gaze inwardly and time to philosophize about life and your ever-changing trek through it. For me, this time revolves around goodbyes. The goodbyes that constantly leave my mouth and take something from my heart when they slip out my lips. It leaves me feeling chafed and sore, like the way my hands feel after packing, repacking, and dragging my luggage to the next destination.

This hello goodbye, this tap dance over an invisible line, it leaves scuff marks on the floor of my heart. Like velcro I hook myself back into old friendships and relationships, and with that harsh tearing noise I rip myself away again, thousands of hooks and loops screaming their disapproval. Goodbyes have never really been my thing. If I have ever told you goodbye and seemed cold, don't worry, the tears never come until I am alone in the void between worlds.

I often think of my old world and how every return makes it seem as if I had never left it. I fall straight into the embrace of my dearest friends, a sacred reunion of people I feared I would never see again, much less see together. One person is a joy, but the unity of many that had loved each together is simply beauty. And yet time dances on and the places you once knew and called home have changed without your input. Change is merciless and necessary, but with jealousy I know that my home is changing without me. For that reason I have placed my home in the hearts of those dear to me, so that whenever I am with them I am home.

So when you ask me where I am from I will say, "I don't know." If you really want to know a place, I suppose it would have to be the airplane.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

First Snow

Open your eyes for your world is too small.
Rip off your blinders and see for the first time.
Do not judge what you have only tasted
And do not dive until you know where the rocks lie.
Find yourself, try on your faces,
but do not hold onto a mask
and do not forget your Father.

I'm not dead!

I'm sorry it's been so long! I'm going to be a horrible person and post a bunch of stuff one after another! Gasp!


Here, my friends, is my latest work of art. I'm kind of in love with Wolverine. I think it's the whole "I want the manliest man ever who will never die" syndrome, but at least it's not "I want a super romantic boyfriend with superpowers and sharp teeth who will never die" syndrome, ahem, not that I'm implying any sort of aversion to the Twilight series. At all. Really. Cough cough.