Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Inspiration at the Big Apple for Art students

New York City is a playground for the senses. People fill the sidewalks, breathing in air that rings with Broadway tunes. The scents of food from all around the world – dumplings, pasta, gyros – mingled together to serenade seventeen senior Art and Art History majors and professors from Whitman as they explored the city.

Even though their feet ached from walking, the works of great artists such as Matisse, Picasso, Rothko and Takashi Murakami didn’t fail to inspire creativity and excitement.

From Nov. 18 until the morning of Sunday, Nov. 23, students spent about nine and a half hours – from nine-thirty in the morning until about six in the evening – visiting art museums and absorbing new ideas for artistic possibilities. Students and faculty visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, MOMA and the Chelsea art galleries, to name a few.

“There was a lot of energy throughout the trip, regardless of the amount we walked each day,” wrote senior art major Maddy Webster in an email. “This trip opened our minds to the possibilities of how to fill a gallery space as well as the emotions one can render through art.”

Art majors are each given up to three walls to fill with artwork for their senior thesis, and going to New York has given students like Webster ideas for what to create for their thesis showing.

Webster mentioned one exhibit she visited at the New Museum called “Making Music Modern; Design for Ear and Eye.” The exhibit looked at how different types of music, videogames and interactive multimedia pieces, are made. Webster said the exhibit shared many characteristics with a class she is taking on how to use programming to mesh art and technology – what Webster calls “the hand” and “the machine.”

An exhibit called “Zero” at the Guggenheim museum left a big impression on senior art major Jesus Chaparro. Chaparro expected to see paintings, prints and sculpture, but instead he found himself face to face with artwork painted using fire, soot and combustion techniques.

“It really challenged me to accept and think of different approaches to art,” said Chaparro. “Looking back, I realized I came home with an abundance of new ideas and methods I would like to employ in my art practice.”

Webster shared a similar sentiment.

“All of the shows we attended reignited a lot of creativity within us and made us want to go back to our studios to work as soon as possible,” she reflected.

The exhibits and inspiration don’t just reach students, but faculty as well.

“It always influences what I do in my own studio,” Assistant Professor of Art Richard Martinez said. “I always see something in a way that I hadn’t before. It’s important for all artists regardless of how long they’ve been doing this to constantly view and engage with art.”

The trip is also extremely valuable as a teaching tool. Martinez said that viewing art face to face rather than through the glossy pages of text books is an eye-opening opportunity for artists.

“All of a sudden we see scale relative to our body, color, texture and materials used in a work of art. We see the work the way the artist intended it to be seen. How the artist’s hand is evident, or intentionally not. This is a very transformative experience if the viewers are actually looking closely and truly experiencing works of art.”

Martinez also finds that student work greatly improves after traipsing the galleries of New York; the variety of and innovation in art that New York offers is great exposure to new and unique ideas, he said.

As invigorating as it was to intimately view art for a week, Webster said it was also “incredibly overwhelming.”

“I was nervous because I had no idea how to take so many inspirations and put it into one piece,” said Webster. “But saying this … too much amazing and inspiring and unique art is never a bad thing.”

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