Sunday, June 22, 2008

Reward Time!

I spent all morning yesterday extensively revising and editing (for the third time) the book review article I've been writing about Interpreting Art: Reflecting, Wondering and Responding by Terry Barrett, a professor at Ohio State. I'm working on it this morning again. Today is IT, no more tweaking and changing, I'm determined to complete it and send it off. This is my LAST writing commitment for the year; yay! I love to write but the editing and revising seem to go on forever and keep me away from my visual work. The old writerly discipline and detail-orientation tend to dominate the artist-explorer in me when a deadline nears. By this evening I'll send the final draft to the editor and exhale. Now it's officially summer-time-and-the-livin'-is-easy time for me!

What better way to reward my inner artist for letting my writer self have its due than a somewhat spur of the moment art adventure! I'll drive to the airport at 4AM tomorrow morning, meet up with a friend who's traveling to NYC on business (she designs fabrics) and board a 6 AM Jet Blue flight to JFK. We'll arrive in mid-town Manhattan before 9 AM. Monday will be dedicated to MoMa -- my son lives in Manhattan and will meet me there, I'm really looking forward to enjoying his company -- and then we'll all have dinner together. Tuesday morning we'll head of to the Metropolitan, where we'll spend half a day exploring their collections (they luckily open at 9:30 AM!), head for the airport mid-afternoon and arrive back in Rochester about 9 PM Tuesday night. One night and two art-filled days, a perfect amount of time in the Big Apple and nothing I'd rather do instead except maybe see back-to-back stage plays and musicals! But that will have to be another adventure.

Between Earth and Heaven, El Anatsui, 2006, 91" x 126", bottle caps, aluminum and copper wire, collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY.

Here's one of the works I am quite excited about seeing. The Metropolitan has just acquired a piece by El Anatsui titled "Between Earth and Heaven." El Anatsui is a Ghanan-born sculptor (1944) ,who teaches art at a Nigerian university. I discovered his work about three years ago. He takes found materials, particularly flattened bottle caps and bands from the outer rims of liquor bottles and joins them with wire into large-scale cascading sculptural forms. Reviewers have described his works as referencing textiles, particularly quilts.

The components are easier to see in these detail shots. One of the most intriguing aspects of these sculptural works is El Anatsui's attitude towards installing them. He says that each time he hangs one it seems to respond differently, protruding forward or caving inward to create variations in shape. The structures seem to form their own topography. Anatsui prefers to let the work determine where it will ripple and how, to allow the work to evolve in context and to alter over time. Given the nature of aluminum and copper wire, that must stretch and alter the way the works hang as well. While the beauty of the work itself and its cultural implications create interest on one level, the artist's willingness to let the piece alter and reshape itself over time is what I love most about his approach to his art.

So seeing this new acquisition at the Met is one stop that I am definitely excited to be making, even while types of language marks and tools for creating them will still be gestating while I absorb and enjoy other artists' works, ideas and processes.

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