Tag: museums

Encounters with Nudity

Wonder Room Diana sculpture

Navigating nudity in art during a visit alone or with family and friends can be challenging for many of us. Indeed, I have been uncomfortable making sense of some works that contain nudity on view at CMA.  For me, every work is unique; some works with nudity trigger feelings of discomfort and even anger, some are rather innocuous.

My position on nudity in art can be boiled down to a few basic statements.

  1. Many works of art depict nudity.
  2. CMA owns and displays works with nudity in the Center for Creativity, in special exhibitions, and in all other galleries.
  3. Visitors should expect to encounter art with nudity during a CMA visit.
  4. Some works with nudity are unsettling to some viewers.
  5. Discomfort is not always a bad thing.

In this blog I do not intend to address statement #1.  Let’s please accept this fact and move on.

I can speak to statements #2 and #3. I admit that CMA has not been explicit about our policy on nudity in art.  Recently, a visitor did express dismay to find works with nudity in the Center for Creativity.  Her comments did not explain why she did not expect works with nudity in the Center for Creativity.  Perhaps because many families with children congregate in the Center, she believes it is not appropriate to display art with nudity there.  Or perhaps she objects for religious reasons.  I cannot know for sure.

Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to be very clear about our policy on nudity in art.

Attention all CMA visitors:  You may encounter works of art with nudity in any gallery in our museum!

I am not suggesting that we intentionally plan for works with nudity in every gallery.  In reality, here is what usually happens:  a curator selects a work because it is innovative or representative of a particular movement, style, or theme.  And sometimes this work includes nudity.  For example, Diana is a sculpture that is currently on view in the glass case adjacent to the Wonder Room.  I selected this elegant sculpture because of the subject matter; Diana, Roman Goddess of the hunt, is typically associated with the forest and animals.  The Wonder Room showcases many works with a woodland theme.  I admit that I did not consider Diana’s small, unclothed breasts when I selected this sculpture. But as a result of this visitor comment, Diana’s breasts have been on my mind. So, last week I wandered through the galleries in the Center for Creativity to chat with other visitors and gain more insight.

As luck would have it, I met a lovely family looking at Diana and the other sculptures on view in this case.   I directed my most important question to mother Amy and 9-year old Gavin, “So, tell me how you feel about the nudity in this sculpture. (I pointed to Diana) I am asking you because a visitor expressed concern that we placed this sculpture here.”  Amy laughed.  She shared this story.  On the drive to the Museum, Gavin asked, “Will there be naked people?” She explained to him that there would probably be some naked people in the art.  Amy also added, without provocation, that she welcomed and supported her son’s “curiosity.”  She wants her children to be curious about the world.  She pointed out that Gavin was comfortable looking, talking about, and even taking photos of the Diana sculpture.

Here is what I noticed: Amy and her family expected to encounter nudity during their museum visit.

Cezanne Bather

I said goodbye to Amy and her family and met another family. Jim and his two children were drawing in the Big Idea Gallery near Cezanne’s Seated Bather.  The “bather” in this painting is a naked woman nestled in a woodland setting. Chatting with Jim, I learned that he, like Amy, expected to encounter nudity during this visit with his family.

I applaud Amy and Jim for preparing their families for one of the almost universal truths of an art museum visit:  Many works of art contain nudity and art museums display these works.  Amy and Jim were comfortable with this fact. But what about visitors who aren’t comfortable with seeing art depicting nudity during a visit?

Certainly, I encourage every visitor to gravitate towards works that have personal relevance or interest.  I want every visitor to have a positive and meaningful experience.  But I also hope to encourage every visitor to approach our Museum as a safe place to explore ideas and topics that may be challenging and uncomfortable.  Why?  Because great works of art are chock full of imagery and ideas and stories that shine a light on difficult issues, such as nudity and sexuality.

This reminds me of the advice offered to me regularly by my massage therapist, “Pain is our best teacher.”  I know what she means. Most days, I plod through my daily routines without paying much attention to my weakened joints.  I’m lazy about the way I get out of the car or sit in the chair.  But when I’m in pain; I must pay attention.  The discomfort forces me to confront some issues I would rather avoid or ignore about myself.  My pain shines a light on my habits, my approach to living, and well, my vulnerabilities.

Great works of art can be like my pain.  They can alert us to some serious issues that we would prefer to ignore. In the course of our daily lives, we may not have to think seriously about poverty or violence or our sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly naked bodies. Most days we can avoid these issues that cause us discomfort.  But a visit to an art museum can be akin to ripping off a Band-aid. Prematurely.  We can quickly feel exposed and vulnerable.  At CMA, many great works of art on view do address difficult topics. These works challenge us to pay attention, to be aware, to take notice of the things we may or may not want to think or talk about.  But like my experience with back pain, if we take the time to be mindful about what triggers our discomfort with issues like nudity in art, we can learn a thing or two about ourselves, our friends and family, and our communities.

Special Art in Bloom Photo Hunt

KirchenerLandscapeat-FehmarnWeb

Celebrate Art in Bloom with our special spring CMA Photo Hunt.

This special CMA Photo Hunt is inspired by our upcoming Art in Bloom, and this Kirchner work, one of the 20 + works floral designers will also be interpreting this weekend (April 25-27).

  • So for this hunt, capture something that reflects your photographic take of this Kirchner work, and the Art in Bloom theme.
  • Tag your photo on Instagram with #CMAPhotoHunt and #ArtinBloomCMA to be included in our online gallery.
  • Tag your work by Sunday April 27.
  • We’ll be selecting our favorites to highlight online.

CMA Photo Hunts are a digital complement to CMA collections and exhibitions, give participants an opportunity to flex their creativity, be inspired by works or themes in Columbus Museum of Art exhibitions or collections, and respond to creative challenges with their own visual take. Since our Photo Hunts began we have received nearly 5,000 submissions from hundreds of photographers from Seattle to Ohio to Paris to Russia.

Our biennial Art in Bloom, takes place April 25-27.

(Landscape at Fehmarn with Nudes (Five Bathers at Fehmarn) by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner).

4th CMA Photo Hunt Instagram Exhibition

4th CMA Photo Hunt Exhibition

You still have time to check out the fourth CMA Photo Hunt exhibition, now on view in the Community Gallery.

Work from than three dozen photographers was chosen for our fourth CMA Photo Hunt installation of mobile photography. Assignments for this round of Columbus Museum of Art Photo Hunts were inspired by hot contemporary photographer Matthew Brandt and our recently on view Matthew Brandt  sticky/dusty/wet exhibition, the first museum show for the Los Angeles based photographer. Brandt processes his photos using nontraditional materials such as bubble gum, honey bees, Pop rocks, and more, was recently named by Forbes the “Top 30 under 30 in art and design.” Our William and Sarah Ross Soter Curator of Photography selected her favorites from more than 1,000 photos submitted via Instagram in the six assigned categories: Soaked, Distressed, Sweet, Elemental, Embed, and Neon.

PhotoHunt4Distressed

CMA Photo Hunts are a digital complement to CMA collections and exhibitions, give participants an opportunity to flex their creativity, be inspired by works or themes in Columbus Museum of Art exhibitions or collections, and respond to creative challenges with their own visual take. Since our Photo Hunts began we have received nearly 5,000 submissions from hundreds of photographers from Seattle to Ohio to Paris to Russia. With our first exhibition in 2012, we were first museum in the world to present a curated, crowdsourced installation based on the popular photo sharing app Instagram.

The 4th CMA Photo Hunt exhibition will remain on view through April 13, 2014.

Follow Columbus Museum of Art on Instagram.

Questions regarding CMA Photo Hunts? Contact the project head, CMA’s Digital Communications Manager, Jennifer Poleon.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Getting to the “Point”

Pointing in the Big Idea Color Gallery

Since I’ve been photographing visitors at CMA, I have noticed a great deal of pointing going on.  Our visitors point at paintings and sculptures.  They point from across the room; they point up close. And I notice that some people don’t look too favorably at this activity – which is unfortunate.

Pointing is a good thing in an art museum.  It is visible evidence of other, often indiscernible, activities such as looking and thinking, sharing and communicating.

Pointing in CMA's Matthew Brandt photography exhibition.

Pointing in CMA’s Matthew Brandt photography exhibition.

Since the early 1970s, psychologists, anthropologists, and linguists around the world have been studying the pointing gesture of humans and other primates. Their research is detailed and complex.  But here is what I take away from it.

Pointing is not such a simple gesture.  In fact, it is a complex and nuanced form of human communication.  Other primates may point, but they don’t have the capacity to point with the same motivation and intention that humans do. Pointing is one feature of our advanced language and communication.

Starting as early as one year of age, pointing is the way one human being tells another, “Hey, see that object over there? That is the thing I am talking about. That is something I have a thought, idea, or opinion about.  And I want to share my thought, idea, or opinion with you.  So please look at it with me.”

In her paper Pragmatics of Imperative and Declarative Pointing, Ingar Brinck notes that pointing is important because “it provides a starting-point for cooperation centered on the shared object.” This is an important finding for art museums.  Why?  Because we are in theobject conversation business.  We collect and care for art objects so that human beings, not chimps or dogs or aliens, can look, think, and talk about them.  At CMA, we endorse this purpose with a memorable tagline:  Art Speaks, Join the Conversation.

A family works on a puzzle in the Big Idea Gallery: COLOR.

A family works on a puzzle in the Big Idea Gallery: COLOR.

And so I take heart when I walk through our galleries and witness pointing in action; I take notes, I snap photos.  I know that conversation is underway or just about to begin.

Pointing is a good thing.

 

6th Brandt Inspired Photo Hunt Challenge

The current round of CMA Photo Hunt assignments are inspired by our now on view Matthew Brandt: Sticky/Dusty/Wet, the first museum show for the hot Los Angeles based photographer. Brandt processes his photos using nontraditional materials such as bubble gum, honey bees, Pop rocks, and more, was recently named by Forbes the “Top 30 under 30 in art and design.”

BubblegumHere in an homage to a classic Ansel Adams shot, Brandt uses bubble gum in the processing. With that in mind, respond with your take on the sixth challenge:

  • Capture something that reflects  “Sticky” either in concept or process
  • Tag your work on Instagram with #CMAPhotoHunt and #Sticky
  • For this sixth assignment you have until Friday December 06, 2013.
  • Please note: images must be your own. Anyone in the world can participate.

Once again our William and Sarah Ross Soter Curator of Photography Catherine Evans will select her favorites (based on the most creative entries, and ones that best represent the assignment), and your creation could grace the walls at Columbus Museum of Art. The third CMA Photo Hunt exhibition was on display July-October in our Community Gallery, and featured work inspired by our COLOR exhibition in the Big Idea Gallery.

CMA Photo Hunts are a digital complement to CMA collections and exhibitions, give participants an opportunity to flex their creativity, be inspired by works or themes in Columbus Museum of Art exhibitions or collections, and respond to creative challenges with their own visual take. Since our Photo Hunts began we have received nearly 5,000 submissions from hundreds of photographers from Seattle to Ohio to Paris to Russia. With our first exhibition last fall, we were first museum in the world to present a curated, crowdsourced installation based on the popular photo sharing app Instagram.

Looking forward to seeing your visual response. Happy shooting!

5th Brandt Inspired Photo Hunt Challenge

Brandt Bees of Bees 2 2012 (detail 1)

The current round of CMA Photo Hunt assignments are inspired by our upcoming exhibition Matthew Brandt: Sticky/Dusty/Wet, which opens November 15, and is the first museum show for the hot Los Angeles based photographer. Brandt processes his photos using nontraditional materials such as bubble gum, honey bees, Pop rocks, and more, was recently named by Forbes the “Top 30 under 30 in art and design.”

Here Brandt embeds bees during the processing.With that in mind, respond with your take on the fifth challenge:

  • Capture something that reflects  “Embed” either in concept or process
  • Tag your work on Instagram with #CMAPhotoHunt and #Embed
  • For this fifth assignment you have until Friday November 22, 2013.
  • Please note: images must be your own. Anyone in the world can participate.

Once again our William and Sarah Ross Soter Curator of Photography Catherine Evans will select her favorites (based on the most creative entries, and ones that best represent the assignment), and your creation could grace the walls at Columbus Museum of Art. The third CMA Photo Hunt exhibition was on display July-October in our Community Gallery, and featured work inspired by our COLOR exhibition in the Big Idea Gallery.

CMA Photo Hunts are a digital complement to CMA collections and exhibitions, give participants an opportunity to flex their creativity, be inspired by works or themes in Columbus Museum of Art exhibitions or collections, and respond to creative challenges with their own visual take. Since our Photo Hunts began we have received more 4,000 submissions from hundreds of photographers from Seattle to Ohio to Paris to Russia. With our first exhibition last fall, we were first museum in the world to present a curated, crowdsourced installation based on the popular photo sharing app Instagram.

We’ll post the sixth and last in this series of Brandt-inspired Photo Hunt assignments here on our blog, and on Instagram on November 22.

Happy shooting!

(Bees of Bees 2, 2012 by Matthew Brandt, private collection).

3rd Brandt Inspired Crowdsourced CMA Photo Hunt

Third Matthew Brandt inspired crowdsourced CMA Photo Hunt assignment. Hills Creek Lake by Brandy

The current round of CMA Photo Hunt assignments are inspired by our upcoming exhibition Matthew Brandt: Sticky/Dusty/Wet, the first museum show for the hot Los Angeles based photographer. Brandt processes his photos using nontraditional materials such as bubble gum, honey bees, Pop rocks, and more.

Here Brandt uses lake water in his large scale processing. So with that in mind, respond with your take on the third challenge:

  • Capture something that reflects  “Distressed” either in concept or process
  • Tag your work on Instagram with #CMAPhotoHunt and #Distressed
  • For this third assignment you have until Friday October 25, 2013.
  • Please note: images must be your own. Anyone in the world can participate.

Once again our William and Sarah Ross Soter Curator of Photography Catherine Evans will select her favorites (based on the most creative entries, and ones that best represent the assignment), and your creation could grace the walls at Columbus Museum of Art. The third CMA Photo Hunt exhibition is on display now through November in our Community Gallery, and features work selected by Evans.

Since our Photo Hunts began we have received nearly 4,000 submissions from hundreds of photographers from Seattle to Ohio to Paris to Russia. With our first exhibition last fall, we were first museum in the world to present a curated, crowdsourced installation based on the popular photo sharing app Instagram.

Watch for additional biweekly Photo Hunt assignments here on our blog, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

(Hills Creek Lake, OR 3, 2009 by Matthew Brandt)

Free Admission for Smithsonian’s 9th Annual Museum Day Live

MuseumEntrance

The Columbus Museum of Art will offer free admission on Saturday September 28, 2013, as part of Smithsonian magazine’s ninth annual Museum Day Live! A nationwide event, Museum Day Live! offers free admission to visitors presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket at a participating museum or cultural institution.

Inclusive by design, the event represents Smithsonian’s commitment to make learning and the spread of knowledge accessible to everyone, giving museums across all 50 states the opportunity to emulate the admission policy of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. Last year’s event drew over 400,000 participants, and this year’s event expects record-high participation.

Admission includes CMA’s George Bellows and the American Experience exhibition. George Bellows is widely considered to be one of the finest artists America has ever produced. Bellows left Columbus, Ohio in 1904 to study art in New York City, and within five years the young artist had taken the American art world by storm, winning every major award all the while insisting upon a new, and often unsettling, standard for the subject matter deemed acceptable as fine art. This exhibition, which includes more than 35 paintings as well as major drawings and prints, reveals the virtuosic ability and amazing breath of this master painter. And don’t forget to see COLOR, a lively, hands-on exhibition in CMA’s Big Idea Gallery.

The Museum Day Live! ticket is available to download at Smithsonian.com/museumday. Visitors who present the Museum Day Live! ticket will gain free entrance for two at participating venues for one day only. One ticket is permitted per household, per email address. For more information about Museum Day Live! 2013 and a list of participating museums and cultural institutions, please visit Smithsonian.com/museumday.

Please note: you can also present your Museum Day Live! ticket on the screen of your smartphone.

Parking is available for free in our lot off Gay Street. Please use the new entrance off the West Garden on 9th Street.

Be sure to tag your visit with @columbusmuseum and #museumdaylive on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

4th CMA Photo Hunt Series

Sylvan Lake, CA 3_580

We’re pleased to announce our fourth CMA Photo Hunt Challenge. This next series of assignments are inspired by our upcoming exhibition Matthew Brandt: Sticky/Dusty/Wet, the first museum show for the hot Los Angeles based photographer. Brandt processes his photos using nontraditional materials such as bubble gum, honey bees, Pop rocks, and more.

Get inspired by Brandt’s work and respond with your take on the first challenge:

  • Capture something that reflects “soaked” either in concept or process
  • Tag your work on Instagram with #CMAPhotoHunt and #Soaked
  • For this first assignment you have until Friday September 27, 2013.
  • Please note: images must be your own. Anyone in the world can participate.

Once again our William and Sarah Ross Soter Curator of Photography Catherine Evans will select her favorites (based on the most creative entries, and ones that best represent the assignment), and your creation could grace the walls at Columbus Museum of Art. The third CMA Photo Hunt exhibition is on display now through November in our Community Gallery, and features work selected by Evans.

Since our Photo Hunts began we have received nearly 5,000 submissions from hundreds of photographers from Seattle to Ohio to Paris to Russia. With our first exhibition last fall, we were first museum in the world to present a curated, crowdsourced installation based on the popular photo sharing app Instagram. Read more about the inception of the Photo Hunt project in stories in The Columbus Dispatch, Art Daily, and Clic France, and Columbus Alive.

Watch for additional biweekly Photo Hunt assignments here on our blog, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Here’s a peek inside Brandt’s studio to give you ideas to get you started.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with for this next Photo Hunt series. Happy shooting!

(IMAGE: by Matthew Brandt from the series Lakes and Reservoirs Sylvan Lake, SD 3, 2012, Chromogenic print soaked in Sylvan Lake water, Unique. © Matthew Brandt, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York)

3rd CMA Mobile Photography Exhibit

CMA Photo Hunt COLOR

More than three dozen photographers were chosen for our third CMA Photo Hunt installation of mobile photography: COLOR. Catherine Evans, our William and Sarah Ross Soter Curator of Photography, selected her favorites from nearly 1,500 photos submitted via Instagram in the six assigned categories: Red, Golden, Green, Pastel, Blue, and Neon. Assignments for this round of Columbus Museum of Art Photo Hunts were inspired by our COLOR exhibition in the Big Idea Gallery currently on view.

We’re thrilled to continue supporting and bringing the mobile photography community together. This is the biggest CMA Photo Hunt to date, and includes work from a mother and daughter, father and daughter, designers, artists, and even work from a photographer in Russia. Last fall, Columbus Museum of Art was the first museum in the world to present an exhibition of curated, crowdsourced photos shared using the popular photo app Instagram. Read more about the inception of the Photo Hunt project in stories in The Columbus Dispatch, Art Daily, and Clic France, and Columbus Alive.

Follow us on Instagram (columbusmuseum) for more information about new CMA Photo Hunts, and your opportunity to be selected for our next CMA Photo Hunt installation.

The CMA Photo Hunt COLOR installation will be on display in the Community Gallery through November.