Category Archives: Artists

Why there is no celebration of the new.

As a society we have given up on the new. We don’t care about it anymore. I might be able to go as far as to say we don’t like it anymore. The new is weak and fragile, and to quote Anton Ego from Ratatouille, the new needs friends. But today the new has few friends and many enemies. The organizations who once upon a time cultivated the new, or stood for its cultivation, now work tirelessly to preserve not it but what it was. Where is modern art? In a museum. What is a museum? A place designed for conservation (ie preservation).¬†

We need to stop preserving art and start creating it again. 

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Dancing Matt and a need to be inspired.

I have been wanting to post about “Where the Hell is Matt” for over a year at this point. The only real reason I haven’t is due mostly to my busy schedule as a ¬†teacher, but with that life slipping behind me I find myself with nothing but time to catch up on the elements of life I missed out on. One in particular is responding to his most recent video from 2012 that inspired myself and my kids to find our own way to change the world. There isn’t much to his videos and there are based on something rather simple, dancing around the world. But his simple concept of visiting different cities and dancing with local populations has inspired me and continues to inspire me. The videos are cute, funny and leave an audience smiling if not laughing. But no jokes are told or script developed. For what makes us enjoy his videos is the happiness and togetherness they portray. We see the differences of our world so wonderfully displayed next to each other as to forget the pain those differences have caused. We are given a reason to smile from his video.

In my own explorations as to what is the responsibility of artists I have danced with the idea that as artists we have responsibilities to the population. As a community we always want to strive to be better and those who strive for our attention should naturally lead us down that path. I’ve gone so far as to criticize the remarkably enjoyable music of Jimmy Buffet for doing nothing more than giving us a reason to drink and screw. Yet I was mistaken then and can realize it now. The role of art is and always has been to engage us. To produce in us a reaction transient and pleasurable, his music does that.

I’m not about to suggest that Matt’s videos are as timeless and enjoyable as Jimmy Buffet but I do want to argue that there is a significance to the smile they produce in us. We are a social species by nature, it has had great influence on our evolution, being able to communicate and share and desiring to as well. We are a better, smarter species for our social desires and yet recently I feel we have lost some of that. Many smarter and more informed individuals have blasted our generation and the internet for the decrease in social experiences and though I lean towards their camp I’m not necessarily sure they are right. Have we truly replaced time together with time online? Furthermore is time online truly void of the same social celebrations produced in time together? The answers aren’t necessarily there just yet and maybe won’t be for a while. However what is there is that videos like this have a power to remind us what it means to be together. Those who participated in his videos enjoyed togetherness while those who enjoyed his videos witnessed it. But more than just witnessing it, my classroom felt it, discussed it, celebrated it, and used it to inspire ourselves.

I’ll leave it there for now but will return. I’d like to see more of us inspiring ourselves.

-Huysmans out.

Those unfamiliar with Matt’s dancing exploits can find information about him and his adventures here.

The Art of Teaching, Part 1

For the next couple of weeks and perhaps a lot longer I will engage this blog in a series of discussions on the topic of teaching. More specifically on the relationship between art and teaching. This relationship, though unyieldingly general, is extremely important when its specifics are identified. I am/was (depending on the NYC budget and its cuts) a middle school science teacher at an inner city school. In addition to my science classes I also taught an art history/ appreciation class. Therefore when I talk about art and teaching I mean much more than teaching art or using art to teach content. Ultimately there is no end to where and how art relates to teaching and perhaps that is why an art critic like myself ended up as a teacher… of science.

Therefore in the next few weeks expect these posts to take no general form and to be full of errors and contradictions. I DO NOT WANT TO EDIT THESE. I want the ideas to flow, the mistakes to be apparent, and the evolution of thought as I and whomever else wants to participate engage in understanding what exactly the role of art is in education.

Let me start with this:
Were I to rethink and redesign education from the bare bones I would do away with the assumed four core classes of ELA (English Language Arts), Math, Social Studies, and Science and introduce an alternative four core classes as follows:

Creativity

Observation

Analytical Thought

Communication

When one makes it all the way to high school these would clearly not be the subjects, and in fact by high school a subject by any of these names should not exist as an option. What I mean by introducing these four subjects (most of which are not unfamiliar to education) are to suggest that these four ideas should be the focus of lower school education. These are four ideas, four concepts, four activities of our brain that are at the route of everything we do and everything that makes us uniquely human.

Thoughts?

-huysmans

Gaga or Duchamp or Selavy

For the past year I have been annoying my friends with the idea that Lady Gaga is the Marcel Duchamp of our times. Perhaps it is best to state that I don’t believe her to be an artist of the same caliber but rather I find her celebrity art lifestyle reminiscent of Duchamp’s alter ego, Rrose Selavy.

Rrose Selavy Portrait by Man Ray

Regardless I was pleasantly surprised this morning by a link my sister shared with me to Vogue’s website.

Gaga’s Art Piece.

I’m glad to see Lady Gaga recognizes the connection too. And honors it appropriately.

-huysmans