Upon visiting the African Burial Museum and reading about how many people are buried there and their traumatic pasts, I was saddened. There are 15,000 enslaved African Americans buried at the African Burial Ground. Considering their work ethic and how they are essentially the backbone of the “colony building” of America, they should be respected and honored. However, during those times African slaves were seen as property, a commodity to be bought and sold, to be used and abused. They were seen as animals, where if they were sick and couldn’t perform or be sold for anything they were just thrown off the ship that was on the voyage to America.
I enjoyed learning about how the enslaved African Americans viewed death through their artwork. Their burial was a mix of celebration, mourning, and connecting with their ancestors. They also buried their loved ones with certain possessions. It seemed almost peaceful to watch how they honored the dead as well as their ancestors and formed a community regardless of the numerous rules/ codes that were imposed on them.
Enslaved Africans had to sneak out in order to have social gatherings. This also meant that they were breaking the law, which seems outrageous to think about relative to today’s society. This really made me think about where this ideology came from that blacks are inferior to whites and what justification slave-owners had for owning and possibly raping slaves, besides it being the “norm” at the time. While slavery is abolished in the current times, it doesn’t seem that we have evolved too far from those ideologies; rather, they are resurfacing in the form of police brutality, mass incarceration, and environmental racism.
For my extra credit, I chose to visit a museum not related to the things we studied in our class but someone rather different. I went to the Museum of Moving Image, as it is one of my favorites because of how different it is. This museum, located near Kaufman Studios in Queens, focuses on film and television. While there are not necessarily paintings and statues like in the Metropolitan Museum or the Brooklyn Museum, there are many other interesting things to look at, such as costumes from movies, fan mail received for certain shows, cameras, and even original movie script drafts.
One thing I saw when I was there was letters from fans of “The Muppet Show.” Some of these were dated back to the 70’s and were often from kids. One specific letter was from a boy named Jay from Michigan, who wrote to the creators of The Muppets to share his concerns of the show being cancelled before he has the chance to work with the muppets. At the end of the letter he even adds a drawing of a muppet saying “We go Bye-Bye!” before signing off as “a concerned kid.” This caught my attention because it was very real and something the kid never would have thought would end up in a museum. He only wanted to discuss his worries about a show he was a fan of becoming cancelled.
Another thing I found interesting was a display of a paper with the original brainstormed ideas for the title of the 1986 film “Labyrinth” starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. I loved this movie as a child and getting to see something that was a part of the process was interesting. Some of the title ideas were “Magic Maze” and “Inside Outside.” Seeing this reminded me that while the title of a movie may seem insignificant to viewers when thinking about a whole movie, a lot of thought does go into it. The full outfits worn by David Bowie’s character were also on display and being able to examine the details of those up-close showed just how much effort actually goes into creating the clothes worn by characters in things we watch.
In my post about what art is to me, I wrote that art is not limited to just paintings and sculptures because photography, fashion, and film, are also forms of art. This museum is a perfect example of this because it proves that museums are not always just about paintings from centuries ago, they can be about things we enjoy in our daily lives too.
On Monday, November 19, 2018, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to check out their new exhibition called “Jewelry: The Body Transformed.” The room was dim with black painted walls with glass columns from the ceiling to the floor with a piece of jewelry inside. This exhibition is all about jewelry, why wear it, and what its meaning is throughout history. They had 5 areas themed for something else such as the divine body, the regal body, the transcendent body, the alluring body, and the resplendent body. It wasn’t necessarily organized by time, but by theme, which was nice for a change. Jewelry is known to be an ancient form art that has enhanced and embellished the human body. Each area had to do what jewelry was attributed to. From the earliest time, it was attributed to the gods. Eventually, it was something that became appealing to the eye and became like a piece of clothing. Throughout history, jewelry has been something that helped others understand the culture of that time. I recognized the names of famous designers of some of the pieces such as Swarovski and Cartier.
The Seductive Pearl
Five strand pearl necklace
Cartier (French, founded in 1847)
Made in London, ca. 1926
The piece that stuck out to me most had to be the pearl necklace from the Alluring body area. Pearls are my favorite type of jewelry. Also, the company Cartier stuck out to me. Pearls in history were known to be as an erotic accessory. This idea faded in the era of post World War 2.
This exhibition is my by far my favorite that I ever went to. It was interesting to learn about the meaning of pieces of jewelry in different eras. It gave me the opportunity to learn about cultures were like and comparing it to what it’s like nowadays. I never looked at it as a form of art until I went to this exhibition. I now look at jewelry as something that unites body and art. Overall, I had an enjoyable time looking at the beautiful pieces at this exhibition.
You have two ways to earn extra credit in this course.
1. You may attend an art-related event on campus (including the artist talks hosted by the art department), and write a review of the event.
2. You may go to another museum or gallery to see an exhibition.
Reviews should include the who, what where, when and why of the talk, a brief summary of the event, and your review of what happened. In your review think about what the message was and how was it conveyed. What are the stakes? Why is it important? approx. 300-500 words.