By Kelvin Salter
“We all look at the same things, yet see different things,” Impressionist Artist Claude Monet once said.
It is true that art appreciation is subjective. We all bring something different to the table when we examine a work of art. As high school students, an exhibit may spark something inside of us that may be different than our peers or teachers. The important point is that art can always spark something if we just take the time to look. In a time of screen time and social media, a trip to an art museum is exactly what we need.
Last week, Thurston art students took a trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts. A highlight of the day was the 30 Americans exhibit.
Art students had the chance to see 50 paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs and video drawn from the Rubell Family Collection which was created by many of the most important African American artists working over the past 30 years, including Kerry James Marshall, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kara Walker, Nick Cave, Kehinde Wiley, Carrie Mae Weems, Robert Colescott, Glenn Ligon and Lorna Simpson.
As described on the DIA website, “Identity, triumph, tragedy, pride, prejudice, humor and wit. 30 Americans: An exhibition bound by one nation and divided by 30 experiences. A dynamic showcase of contemporary art by African American artists, this exhibition explores issues of racial, political, historical and gender identity in contemporary culture.”
This free exhibit is open until January 18.
With so many diverse pieces in the exhibit, students had a chance to really find pieces that “spoke to them.”
Thurston’s art teacher Mrs. Graham called the exhibit “absolutely brilliant, fascinating, very diverse and displayed the culture of African Americans wonderfully.”
“From the acts of Kehinde Wiley’s ‘Sleep’ and ‘Triple Portrait of Charles I’ to Leonardo Drew’s monolithic wall made of cotton and wax, just amazing,” she said. “It was the first time I’ve seen work specifically for African Americans. The fact that gender played a role and you can see the difference between female and male artists work.”
Senior Kaylei Kerr said, “I was attracted to the glittery art and rhinestones and ‘Flower Soundsuit’ by Nick Cave.”
Senior Tovias Washington said, “The things that really caught my eye were the works of art that are similar to mine such as ‘I Sell the Shadow to Sustain the Substance’ a statement by Glenn Ligon.”
My personal favorite was Silhouettes titled “Camptown Ladies” by Kara Walker and Gary Simmons’ “Duck, Duck, Noose,” a devastating installation in which Ku Klux Klan hats sit on stools in a classroom-like circle — while an empty noose hangs in the center.
No matter who you are and what you bring to the table, you are bound to be affected by the works in the exhibit. If you get a chance, get to the DIA before the end of the day January 18. In fact, what better way to spend Martin Luther King Day than enjoying art.