Represent: 200 years of African American Art

Last Thursday, I visited PMA’s new exhibit. With a special tour (perks of being a Teen Council member), I experienced it days before the general public and now I’m bringing the news to you!

We’ve all seen the posters on the bus stops and in the subways: Represent: 200 years of African American Art. I was expecting to see pictures of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other political figures, like the one on the advertisement, plastered on the walls. What I found was a great variety of artwork from pre Civil War spanning to today. The collection is arranged in periods— both political and artistic.  Furniture, sculptures, quilts, and photographs join the paintings on the walls.

Two of my favorite pieces, “Portrait James Baldwin” by Beauford Delaney and a collection of photography, “The Kitchen Table Series” by  Carrie Mae Weems are in this collection and I geeked out when I was able to witness them in front of me and not on a page or a screen.

The exhibit does a great job encompassing the duality and complexity that is the African American condition. Silver-smithed items of a freeman are juxtaposed with “Face Jugs” created by enslaved peoples. While many pieces hold political messages, some works have absolutely nothing to do with civil issues, and are simply celebrations of art (which happened to have been done by African American artists).  I think the apolitical pieces become political because of the artists’ choices to refuse to design their art focusing on their racial status. What defines people and how they express themselves comes from within, ethnic background is not the only contributing factor.

My favorite section of the display is the area towards the back that has a couch. You can sit on it! It is like sitting in someone’s living room and looking at family photos— the couch faces a huge wall of pictures while a soundscape from interviews of different artists in the collection plays. The contrasting and individual ideas from each of the artists show the range of artists’ inspiration and beliefs.

Represent truly captures of the essence of the word, it showcases works of those who expressed themselves. Each artists represents themselves, as well as what their art stood for.

I feel all art is a statement: I am here. I am here. This will be here.

 

To cite my STAMP Story from a few months ago: “ In 50 years, people will look back to now and it will be our generation that contributed to what they have to see. We are experiencing  history in the making, it is our jobs to leave a legacy, through art, actions, literature, or laws.”

 

This exhibit has inspired me. I hope you visit and let me  know how you liked it in the comments below!

P.S. Check out the Cool things happening soon at PMA

Holiday Break Guide!

Hey guys! I hope all in school and life is well!  As we near winter break, we’ll  have more free time to relax, spend time with family and friends………. and visit museums.

Your STAMP pass is the perfect defense against winter boredom.  A block away from the Race-Vine subway stop is PAFA, and there are some cool things going on inside.

Last month I blogged about Peter Blume’s Nature in Metamorphosis exhibit. It’s great! I keep visiting to see it. If you haven’t seen this exhibit, I strongly suggest swinging by one day after school or during break.

The exhibit is housed in the Hamilton Building (the modern one), and before you reach it, there’s a wall of photographs.  The photographs belong to an installation by the artist Eiko Otake called A Body in Fukushima. It captures a journey taken by the artist in abandoned areas of Japan.  In 2011, an earthquake and tsunami caused an accident in a nuclear power plant, causing people to flee their homes, in fear of radiation.

Arranged from ceiling to floor, these striking images made me feel like I could step into them.  They told a story. The uninhabited town, full of color and life, thriving and  almost allowing nature to reclaim the area, is so striking.  Eiko positions herself in the middle of it all. Some of the photos look as if she’s dancing, others as if she’s crying or sleeping.

It was amazing to see how time goes on; How buildings stand without people to hold them up, and how flowers bloom without being planted. Friends of mine that have gone with me to see the work have called it “Tastefully raw” and “Full of life, but not overbearingly so”.

If you want to take a trip to Japan without leaving downtown, you should check out A Body in Fukushima! Take a friend!

 

PAFA’s Peter Blume Exhibition

Hey guys! Hope all is well. This month’s edition is about an exhibit that opened October 24th….  Peter Blume: Nature in Metamorphosis.

Housed in the Fisher Brooks Gallery, this exhibit is comprised of sketches and oil paintings by Peter Blume, but these are not just canvases on a wall. What is interesting about this exhibit is that every piece has a story. Each canvas  is accompanied  with information about  Bloom’s inspiration, his location (he was a traveller and it really shows in his work ) and the methods he employed.  The visitor leaves the gallery with both artistic and sentimental knowledge.

Blume’s scenes are dramatic, political, and creative. He employs bold, concentrated colors, which really jump off the walls. Bloom plays with depth and there is something going on in every corner of  the paintings. One of my favorite items is “Italian Straw Hat ” and  because there is so much in to see with 159 works, I’ll definitely be visiting again.

PAFA is just a block a few steps away from the City Hall and Race-Vine subway stops. The museum closes at 5, so if you have about a half an hour after school, you can check out an exhibit.

If you decide to visit, post some comments below about something you learned.

Amani’s STAMP Story

I hope the second month of school is going great and that STAMP usage has been a regular part of the school week (or the weekend). Along with Double STAMP Points, we’re enacting a new competition called STAMP Story this month. We want to hear your STAMP Story: What have you done with your STAMP pass? You can talk about your favorite museum experience or a STAMP event.
We can’t wait to read what you guys submit. I thought I’d share my STAMP story:

Once upon a time, well really about six months ago, I had a big project coming up in History class. I was tired of Google and Wikipedia and I needed to do something fresh. The theme was “American Identity”. With STAMP pass in hand, I ventured to PAFA. I did an analysis of American heroes’ immortalization in art, and how it differs depending on the artist, the time period, and the event. With several portraits of George Washington— one of which was the only thing saved from a fire— it is interesting to see how each artist decided to portray Washington, which brushstrokes, which background colors. I learned about a sculpture of an African American laborer that was a revolutionary piece of art in its time period. There were also portraits of people that aren’t in history books, paintings of fruit by American artists. Each piece was unique in its own right.

If I wanted to, I could’ve walked about 8 blocks to the African American Museum of Philadelphia or the Constitution Center for more facts about the history behind events in American history and how they formed an American Identity. It’s really convenient how some of the museums are so close to each other. (And now with free FLASH bus fare available to STAMP members, it’s even easier to get from museum to museum).

I think using art as an expression of history and political sentiment was a fun, informative way to do school work. It has also solidified my drive to create something, to leave a mark on the world. In 50 years, people will look back to now and it will be our generation that contributed to what they have to see. We are experiencing history in the making, it is our jobs to leave a legacy, through art, actions, literature, or laws.

Thanks STAMP!