Jordan's Visit to 'Magic Ladders' at The Barnes

Jordan’s Visit to ‘Magic Ladders’ at The Barnes

Hey guys! I hope everyone been enjoying our sneak peek at some extremely nice weather lately! It is definitely a great opportunity for you and your friends to go and check out all the fun art and cultural activities and events that are going on in Philly! I recently got the chance to go on a field trip to the Barnes Foundation with my school. After getting a tour of the famous Barnes collection, we visited the new exhibition that is currently being held there called Yinka Shonibare MBE: Magic Ladders. The artwork was done by renowned British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare. He brought so much life to the exhibition with the colorful fabrics and the dynamic figurines he incorporated within his work!

I was pretty captivated by the amount of liveliness I could sense circulating the room as I first walked in. There was so much movement that gave off the illusion of people dancing, engaging in lively conversations, genuinely inviting the viewer in to join them in their activities! As I navigated through the large room, I was very impressed by the way Shonibare conceptualized everything and allowed me room to generate my own thoughts and feelings toward the pieces. For example, his “Climbing Ladders” series sparked some thoughts on the progression a child goes through throughout their years of innocence to maturity when taking in learning and education. The pieces broadcasts a strong message towards the amount of impact education has on children and also puts emphasis on the importance education has towards their development. I felt a great sense of connection with the artist because of the similar opinion we may share toward the subject.

After drifting into a different section of the space, I found myself taking part in an extremely intense debate. The figures had gestures that were so lively and energetic that it added so much enthusiasm and breath to the pieces surrounding the large, round table. Each piece was covered in luxuriously decorated fabrics that gave a rich quality to them. They perfectly wrapped around the figures and their bold attitudes. Underneath all of the embellishment was a message that the artist wanted the viewer to digest and spark up new questions that they have not yet asked about their own culture influences, as well as others. That was one of my favorite aspects of this exhibition, that even though there is so much decorative fabrics and designs incorporated into every pieces and area of the space, each piece contains a message and/or connection the artist wanted to make towards himself and his own cultural identity. I think it helps people start to relate themselves to their own cultural background and identities, which I believe is a essential part of an individual’s development.

There are so many more fascinating and elegant pieces within the exhibit that was just astonishing to get to see, but part of the adventure is for you to experience for yourself! The exhibition absolutely influenced how I look at my own art and the way I consider the effectiveness of incorporating myself and my opinions and beliefs into my artwork. The different pieces helped me realize that the strongest thoughts and opinions can be easily projected in the most delicate and appealing of ways. So I really encourage everyone to take some time out of your week to head down to the Barnes Foundation after school to take a look at both the Barnes collection and the Magic Ladders exhibition. The Magic Ladders exhibition will be ending April 21st, so you better hurry before you and your friends run out of time! Have fun!

READY TO VISIT The Barnes Foundation? Check out the Barnes profile page for the hours you can use your STAMP pass!

This post was written by Jordan Deal, a STAMP Teen Council member. Jordan attends the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts.