Friday, June 22, 2012

Art in a Cloud

In last week's posting, you'll recall that I was engaged in a philosophical dialogue with a couple of vocal, and quite opinionated, sparrows in City Hall Park about "What is art?"  We've come to no resolution, but have decided upon a truce.

Leaving them to their banterings, I had another opportunity to explore my own opinions about Art at  the Metropolitan Museum of Art's new exhibit, "Cloud City."  A friend and art mentor, Gary Schwartz, head of the Visual Arts Department at LĂ©man Manhattan Preparatory School, sent me an email titled,  "Amazing!!!"  "Check out the new Installation art at the Met.  I'm taking a group of students.  Hope you can join us."

Anticipating my question, "What is Installation art?" Gary sent me a link to the installation of the Installation art.  I watched and googled.

"Installation art describes an artistic genre of three-dimensional works that are often site-specific and designed to transform the perception of a space." (Wikipedia)

Art designed to transform the perception of a space. . . I was intrigued.

I joined Gary, his students and another friend, Nola, on the Roof Garden at the Met, as temperatures on the first day of summer soared to 98 degrees. Sweat trickled down my back as I walked around and into Saraceno's "Cloud," wishing for a cool mist to seep from the steel and glass modules. Despite the heat, I was entranced.

The reflections of light on glass did indeed transform my perception of space beyond the structure to encompass the sky, trees, ground, people, buildings -- everything in its reach. . . ever-changing.


Walking along the stairways inside, stepping from one pod to another, felt like being inside a puzzle.  Nola and I followed the path up, down, in, out and through as one shape attached to the next.  I often caught glimpses of three, four, even five of me. A sign stating, "500 lb. limit," reassured me as I descended onto a clear pentagon, with nothing but hard concrete below.  It was a matter of trust.  It was art, like I had never experienced it.

Continuing to ponder the "What is art?" question, I asked Gary for his thoughts. . .

"When you challenge people's perceptions about accepted societal norms, when you engage more than one person in a dialogue about a common subject, when you satisfy your own need of self-expression whether it is shown in public or in your own den in the suburbs, if it is honest and speaks to your aesthetic integrity, it is indeed a work of art." 

Perhaps I'll share my experience and Gary's insights with the birds at City Hall Park, or perhaps they'll hear about it long before I get back.  It turns out that one of their cousins was watching.

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