We can attempt to teach the things that one might imagine the earth would teach us: silence, humility, holiness, connectedness, courtesy, beauty, celebration, giving, restoration, obligation and wildness.
David Orr from "Earth in Mind"

Mar 4, 2007

Day 3: Museums

From Spring Break ...
Santa Fe must be a great town to bike around when it is warm enough. As it was the weather had turned cold and windy after lunch but we decided to walk up the hill to the museums. Some of the museums in Santa Fe are in a complex called Museum Hill, this also includes two research facilities.

While Mary went to the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art we went over to what we thought was going to be an anthropological museum. That building ended up being a research center. I wished I had had something to research. The idea of sitting along the windows deep in reading some text thrilled me. Unfortunately Alder is not quite into long library stints unless there are a lot of board books to chew on.

So we went to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. It was interesting but the whole thing was low lit and it made both Alder and I squirmy after the first hour. Luckily we found a great children's exploration room filled with lots of foam blocks made to look like adobe. While Alder enjoyed himself climbing through piles I imagined being there with an older Alder, wondering what his interests would be at four, seven even sixteen. Kevin was enthralled by the exhibits that covered history and daily life.

On an amusing side note the bags of flour they used for the exhibit were from the mill in Cortez where we used to get our flour. I still have one of the Blue Bird bags waiting to find a use for it.

mexican musicians, Girard exhibitionOur next museum was the International Museum of Folk Art. This was the best part of the trip to me. The permanent collection of work was a little overwhelming. There were hundreds and thousands of pieces from all over the world especially many miniature figures of religious ceremonies and village events. A great deal of this collection was Mexican and the bright colors were a welcome contrast from the low light of the first museum.

The exhibit that I really connected with was called Variations. It grouped items not by country but by what they were. This meant that you could look at twenty different masks from all over the world and see the continuity of the human experience. The exhibit got me thinking about the artists in this country who use the vocabulary of these other cultures to make their art. Rather than acknowledging that there could be an American culture they go outside to find a cultural form to use. I understand the draw of this, the Mexican colors or Japanese starkness are both intoxicating. But these artists not only take the methods but the experiences as well.skeleton musician

These artists may be having fun playing in these forms but I do not think that they are really making art from the soul or heart. Yes the folk process involves taking elements from others but they should be taken and incorporated into the artists own experience. It should be form that is "borrowed" not experience.

The exhibit itself only fueled my want to work on my print making. I am trying to use images that I am finding in an old family photo album as a starting point to make art that is about me and what I have experienced in life. Who knows where it will all go.

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