That seems like such a simple question, but when you think about it deeply, it can be difficult to answer. Who are we? What makes up what we are deep down? Personality, values, genetics, thoughts?
Philosophers, psychologists, artists, and ordinary people have pondered this for years. Yet, everyone seems to have differing opinions. What we all can agree on is that people are unique and amazing creatures who are difficult to understand fully.
I spend a lot of time upside down. It increases the blood flow to the brain, so it really helps your creativity.
We’ve already talked about photography in the mundane, but how about photography from another angle? What if you took pictures of the mundane and did it while being upside down? For example, it’s easy to photograph a table, but have you ever tried from being underneath it?
We’ve been talking a lot about art you can do yourself. Sometimes, it’s just as rewarding to enjoy art that other people have created. This can get expensive (opera tickets aren’t cheap), so here are five ways you can experience art in the Minneapolis area without breaking your bank.
1. Visit an Art Museum
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is a free museum where you can see jade sculptures from ancient China, portraits by nineteenth-century Romantic artists, and contemporary abstract paintings.
2. Hear a Concert at a Coffee Shop
The Coffee Grounds is a local coffee shop that brings in musicians ranging from folk to hip-hop on every Friday evening for a free concert. Sometimes they even have comedy troupes.
3. Watch a Ballet
The Landmark Center offers free ballet performances by members of the St. Paul City Ballet on Tuesdays at noon. They also have free classical music concerts and art exhibitions.
4. Listen to a Reading
The Loft Literary Center brings in local and national authors to read poetry and prose, sometimes from one author’s book, and sometimes from several authors’ works about to explore a theme or celebrate an award.
5. See a Film—Fifty’s Style
The Riverview Theatre still has the architecture, decorations, and furniture it did during the 1950s. While not completely free (tickets cost $2), this theatre makes you feel like you stepped backward in time.
Even if we’re involved in art, we tend to stick to mediums that are familiar. For example, my college campus has a ceramics studio in their art building, but I have never been inside in all my three years at this school. Until now.
This weekend, I strapped on an apron and got my
sister, who is an art minor, to give me a tour. She began with the bucket of wet, slimy clay (called “slip”). After this clay has the excess water removed, it’s usable for projects. Next, she took me to the wedging tables, where artists knead the clay until it’s solid enough to work with. When I tried wedging, I was surprised by how fast the clay dries out.
Then I got to try wheel-thrown pottery. First, my sister showed me how to center the clay by bracing my palms on the rapidly spinning wheel. I couldn’t get my lump centered. Then I pushed too hard and pulled it completely off the wheel. After a couple more tries, we decided I should just make my object by hand.
Some people naturally appreciate modern art. I am not one of them. Several times, I’ve found myself standing in an art gallery, staring at a painting called something like “Red Line on White Canvas,” and thinking, “I could do that.”
Today, I actually tried it. I got out my colored pencils . . . and had absolutely no ideas. I hadn’t realized how hard it would be to create art that didn’t look like physical objects.
To give myself some inspiration, I browsed the work of two abstract expressionist painters, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman. Rothko’s paintings depict colored rectangles. Newman’s works feature bright colors with thin vertical lines running through them. I’m not a very good artist, but I decided to imitate both of these artists. How hard could it be to draw some lines and color blocks?
It was much harder than I thought. Drawing the shapes was fairly easy, but it was hard to create a picture that was visually pleasing. I couldn’t explain why, but my pictures were less interesting than the originals. My rectangles looked like random blobs. My lines weren’t very striking.
This reminded me of a conversation several of my friends who are art majors had about abstract art. They said that it was hard to create good composition with such limited subject matter.
While I still don’t understand modern art, I gained a new appreciation for artists who can make such a simple structure hold the viewers’ attention. It’s a deceptively simple art form.
Last week, I came across this picture in my Facebook news feed:
It’s a photograph of priests from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church standing in between the peaceful protestors and the armed police forces in Kiev. When it was taken, they didn’t know if Ukraine would break out into a civil war, or even if it even survive as a country.
This image captures the priests’ bravery and poise during a time of nation-wide unrest. It reminded me of what draws me to photography—its ability to tell stories and communicate emotions.
This change rocked the fans of the Potter universe. Best friends suddenly in love? Or were the deep feelings simply hidden to appease the high-tempered Weasley family? Many questions are left floating around as readers contemplate this change in story.
Art can sometimes reflect questions that we are facing. It can also come from emotions and experiences in our lives. Thus, I decided to make a work of art centered on this literary couple with someone special.
I love going to the art gallery on my college campus and seeing what other students have created. I just don’t have time make anything myself.
But that’s not completely true. There’s always some lag time between my classes or while I’m waiting for the shuttle. I just tend to use these gaps to browse Facebook or Twitter. Although I’m never on for very long, these bits of time can add up.
For one day, I challenged myself to use these breaks to create something, specifically to draw. I’m not an art major—the last drawing class I took was in middle school. My confidence in my artistic ability maxes out slightly above stick figures.
Still, I carried a sheet of printer paper and a mechanical pencil with me all day yesterday. Instead of using my breaks between classes to check social media, I drew. I had no specific requirements for subjects, so sometimes I drew geometric shapes, sometimes I drew identifiable (though very cartoon-y) objects, and sometimes I just doodled.
I’m sure that my results violate several artistic principles, but I had fun. At first, I had a hard time coming up with ideas, but it got easier the more I drew. I would love to try doing this again, maybe with more specific subject matter or more realistic drawings. This project made me wonder what else I could create in my schedule’s margins.
Want to learn more about drawing or try a challenge?
Art can be intimidating for those of us without access to studios or even art supplies. For example, I recently visited the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, the largest center dedicated to bookbinding and related crafts. MCBA’s gallery showcases the intricate, beautiful work of local artists.
I have always wanted to try making a book, but I have never taken any of MCBA’s bookbinding or papermaking classes. I don’t own any of the binding thread sold in their shop. It’s easy for me to look at the tiny, hand-cut pages spiraling out to form landscapes of European cities (complete with accurate depth perception) and give up. Continue reading Book Art for the Rest of Us→
Today, I decided to use my new camera to take some photographs. This creativity challenge might seem simple, but walking the halls of school trying to find interesting subjects filled my day. Every potential item intrigued me but then seemed like a lame choice.
In a world where anyone can snap a picture with their phone, I feel silly attempting to be a photographer. If the finished product does not look perfect, what is the point? That harsh philosophy has been my past belief.