Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jonah Lehrer on Art & Metacognition

Jonah Lehrer, pictured above, is a (hot!) Neuroscientist and author.  His most recent book is titled, "How We Decide," all about the science behind even our most mundane decisions.  He recently gave a lecture at the Walters Art Museum called, "From Marshmallows to Metacognition: The Science of Decisions" in promotion of "How We Decide".  It was a great lecture, and I throughly recommend checking out the book- I know I will be doing so soon!  Given that he was lecturing at an art museum, he had to link his ideas to the arts at some point, and given that I am an artist and art educator, this was one of the more interesting parts of his lecture for me (albeit also one of the shortest parts of his lecture.  Honestly, though, the rest was just as interesting).

One of the things Lehrer talks about is something called "metacognition," or as he put it, "thinking about thinking".  Lehrer said that when kids look at art, for example Rembrandt, they are practicing metacognition- thinking about thinking- and therefore learning more about the human condition as well as about the practice of metacognition.  Looking at art inspires us to ask questions like those I ask my preschoolers when we look at art together: "What do you see?", "Why do you think he feels that way?", etc.  This, according to Lehrer, is just one of the many ways we practice metacognition, and learning to practice metacognition is an extremely important tool of success for everyone.  The ability to be aware of our own thoughts, and their implications, and thereby control them- as well as understand ourselves, our place in the world, and those around us better- can be (and is) one of the main factors in whether an individual succeeds or fails in life.  It is fascinating and very validating neuroscience that supports the arts enormously.  I really hope Lehrer talks about the relation of art and metacognition in his book....I will find out soon enough....!  No matter what, remember to go out there and look at art and practice metacognition- it's scientifically good for your brain!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Exhibitions: Heroes at the Walters Art Museum

Next time you get a chance, if you live here in Baltimore, stop by the Walters Art Museum and check out their newest exhibition, "Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece," which opened two weeks ago.  The exhibition showcases Greek artworks (mostly vases) from the Walters' collection as well as several other contributing museums, arranged around the theme of Heroes such as Herakles, Athena, Odysseus, and Helen.  The show explores not only Heroes, but Hero worship and modern-day Heroes, as well as various monsters and challenges Heroes faced, like the Cyclops above.  There are many fun interactive spots located throughout the gallery, my favorite being the "Personality Quiz" that tells you which Ancient Greek Hero you are most like (The first time I took it, I got Helen, which means I am "Beautiful and Enchanting" or something along those lines.  Then I took it a second time, changing the answers to questions where two answers both sort of fit, and got Athena, "Creative and Smart").  You then can take a pin with a symbol that represents your Hero and a card that explains your Heroes' traits, and follow that Hero around the show by locating your Hero's symbol on the labels of all the pieces where your Hero is shown or discussed.  All in all, it is a fun, creative show that manages to take something that can be kind of boring sometimes (Greek pottery) and make it easy to understand and, in many cases, fascinating!

"Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece" will be on display at the Walters Art Museum, located at 600 N. Charles St. in Baltimore, Maryland, through January 3, 2010.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Art Goods: Anthropologie + Nathalie Lete

Good morning!  Today I can't resist sharing the Nathalie Lete collection from Anthropologie.  I was in the Georgetown Anthropologie last week, and saw these plates and swooned.  Were I not a poor college graduate, I would have bought several and decorated my wall with them.  I still might give in and do so....

The plates are the result of a collaboration between the Parisian artist Nathalie Lete and the popular women's clothing and home goods store Anthropologie.  I wish all plates could be this cute and whimsical!  They are certainly day-brighteners, and I'm so happy that stores like Anthropologie make the effort to partner with artists to create original and creative pieces of functional art.  They're fairly affordable, and are a good way to make art a part of your daily life without investing in, say, an expensive painting.  I am a huge fan of art in all sects and on all things, because art is not just what you find in museums, it is a way of life! ~Sarah

Monday, October 26, 2009

Quotes: Damien Hirst

"Painting is so poetic, while sculpture is more logical and scientific and makes you worry about gravity."
-Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst's "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living", 1992

This sculpture by Hirst is one of his most famous, and consists of a real tiger shark in formaldehyde in a glass case.  It is meant to represent life and death in an immediate, visceral way.  A shark can take your life, it is huge and scary, and at the same time it sits in front of you in its case, dead and decaying.  The piece is on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art until 2010.

What is Community Art?

Hello Everyone!

As Sarah mentioned in a previous post, my name is Holly Crawford-Seay and I am a Practicing Community Artist (PCA) living in Baltimore.

What is Community Art?

Community Art is a "public art practice with roots in social justice and popular and informal teaching methods. In the art world, community art signifies a particular art-making practice, emphasizing community involvement and collaboration (e.g. a mural). Community art is most often art for social change and involves some empowerment of the community members who come together to create artwork/s with artists." [Wikipedia]

What do you do?

As a graduate student in the Master's of Arts in Community Arts Program at MICA and an AmeriCorps/Community Art Corps (CAC) member, I co-facilitate an after-school art program twice a week at the Baltimore American Indian Center in Upper Fell's Point/Southeast Baltimore. My co-facilitator is Open Society Institute (OSI) fellow, Ashley Minner (MACA '07).

I do my best to design projects for and with my students to help facilitate their artistic voice and make an impact on the Native American community and non-Native community living in Baltimore.

When I am not facilitating, I make art utilizing text to begin discussions on the value of expression and hope in a community we call Baltimore. (Since I am currently working on my thesis, this description will (hopefully) become less vague!)

How did you become a PCA?
I became a PCA almost by accident. In the the summer of 2007, I interned in the Education Department of The Walters Art Museum (WAM). I was not working directly with young people at that time, but I became interested in museum education and museum-based community outreach. My overall vision is to use art as a transformative vehicle to unite human beings regardless of race, age, color or creed in a shared public space.

As a guest writer, I will make weekly posts related to the community arts spectrum. I am so happy that Sarah has asked for my input and anticipate a greater understanding and interest in the field of Community Art.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Slight Hiatus

Hello!  Today was a crazy day, mainly because I worked all day and then came home and cleaned my house.  I put in the extra cleaning effort after such a long day because my parents are visiting me starting tomorrow!  Yay! So, I am going on a slight blogging hiatus in order to spend time with them.  I will be back with the normal posts starting on Monday, and until then, check out Guest Blogger Holly Crawford-Seay's first post this Friday!  I'm sorry it was a weak week (hehe), and hope you all have a wonderful weekend! ~Sarah

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Spotlight: Eleanor Farley

Hello!  It's Tuesday night, and I'm super tired, but I'm trying to keep up with my schedule and write a new post every weekday!  Therefore, I bring you a Spotlight on the work of my friend Eleanor Farley.  Eleanor is currently a senior at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  The image above is of a brand-new piece of hers, in her studio.  Eleanor and I talked last year about her work for a blog I had to write for my Contemporary Art class.  Eleanor told me that her work is about "personalization of mass produced objects, making a home, what we need v.s. what we think we need, and inside/outside."

And these concepts are what I got from her work just by looking at it- the idea of building a home, the idea of home and how can you mass produce a home when the notion of home is such a weighted, nostalgic, complicated, symbolic thing- how can you really define "home," what things make up or consist of "home"- you can define "house" as a building where people live, but the notion of "home" is an altogether different thing.  What's great about Eleanor's work is that "home" is not one thing or one phrase or even a phrase at all, but a litany of experiences, memories, tender moments, "domestic affections," structures and material culture, which culminate over time and take on this word "home" which resides in a very special place in our heart, whether we are conflicted about our home or not.

You can check out more of Eleanor's work on her blog,!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Quotes: Andre Gide

"Art begins with resistance- at the point where resistance is overcome.  No human masterpiece has ever been created without great labor."
-Andre Gide

(I had never heard of Andre Gide before, but he looks like he means business!)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Guest Blogger: Introducing Holly Crawford-Seay!

Today I want to introduce you all to The Art Caravan's first-ever Guest Blogger, my good friend Holly Crawford-Seay.  Holly works with me at The Walter's Art Museum as an Education Assistant, and is currently studying towards her Masters of Art in Community Art.  Like me, she is a lover of the arts, kids, and teaching.  I have brought Holly on to write a post a week on Art Education & fun art projects for all.  Once she and I have worked out the technological kinks, you will start seeing her posts, and I for one am super excited to see what she has to share! Thanks and welcome, Holly! ~Sarah

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Spotlight: Kali Ciesemier

Good Wednesday, everybody!  It's a grey day in Baltimore, but as I went for a little run and had some coffee, I am all awake and happy.  As I don't have the post schedule nailed down quite yet, I figured I would post a Spotlight today, because I feel like I haven't posted one in awhile!

Today's Spotlight is on local Baltimore artist and illustrator Kali Ciesemier.  Kali is a friend and former roommate of mine, and I love her illustrations- they always make me happy, especially the above illustration of cakes!  Kali is primarily a freelance illustrator, but she is also currently teaching illustration at MICA, where she graduated from in 2008.  Kali puts a lot of heart & soul into her work, and it shows!  When I was living with her, she was always working- she really cares about what she does and is extremely talented.  I think my favorite two things about Kali's work are her colors- usually a limited color palette, but full of nuance and great shades- and her subjects, always playful and smart.  Even with the various jobs she gets- she has illustrated for Air Tran's GO! Magazine, Baltimore Magazine, Pagepath Technologies, Los Angeles Confidential Magazine, Time Out NY Magazine, and many others- her style is always recognizable and her work is always wonderful!

(Illustration for Time Out NY Magazine)

(Illustration for "Vs." Exhibition at The Wind-Up Space)

To check out more of Kali's work, you can go to her website, or check out her blog at!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Openings: King Me

On Saturday night, October 10, King Me opened at Open Space, the new gallery and music venue in Remington.  King Me, the second show to date produced by Open Space, presents the work of the collaborative group DUOX, composed of recent MICA grads Dan Wickerham and Malcolm Lomax.  The show will run through most of October.

This was my first visit to the space, and I felt it was well done.  Concrete floors, white walls, well-placed track lighting and garage doors equals a simple, clean, and good-sized gallery space into which you can pack plenty of people.  And it was already pretty full by 8:30pm, an hour and a half after the opening had begun.  A diverse crowd was sipping from tiny Starbucks cups of free liquor-infused punch (for those 21 and up, of course) and a bunch of chicken wings had just arrived.  Dan and Malcolm were mingling with their guests, both in snazzy get-ups, and when a close friend showed up from New York, surprising them both, there was lots of screaming and excited yelling.

As for the work itself, I have to say that I really don't know what to say.  Do I get it? Not really.  Do I have to get it? I don't know?  I often feel like the biggest complaint about postmodern art is that it seems to make no sense- the meaning is elusive and you often stand there just trying to make sense of it all.  Plastic bags filled with magazine cut-outs and drawings, videos containing sexual acts, a MICA custodial shirt with a painted 40 oz beer bottle sitting on top of it, metallic plastic lids and straws on slabs of plaster, phone books nailed to the ceiling, an aluminum foiled duck, a board with red bricks, red lights, and black belts on it.  A clear Hollister bag with a gold football in it tacked to the wall, a massive collage with black pretzels drawn on it.

They could be talking about materialization, commercialization, symbols and sex, maybe they just love metallics and random materials.  I'm not saying I get it, so I don't really know.  Rob Brulinski reviewed the show for Gutter Daily at, and he wrote that the work, "Attempts to repackage a set of motifs: black pretzels, leisure, work and labor, vacations, journals, morning preparation, transparent Casper, work clothes, sweet and salty sex, image as sculpture, masks, soaps, snacks as lunches, beards, bugs, and hot showers."

Personally I think it's mainly about sex and found materials.  But I really, really don't know.  Regardless, I think it's worth seeing, a good use of the space and interesting at the least.  If you don't get very mild postmodern art, then I have a feeling you really won't get this very extreme postmodern art.  It is quite far from a simple oil painting of a pretty landscape.  But art isn't about getting it, as I have said before.  It's about visual imagery, creativity, and expression- and I believe everyone should expose themselves to as much of it as possible! So, check out King Me at Open Space throughout October, and continue to check out Open Space in the future, as it is already off to a good start- and I am sure there is more good to come!

Open Space is located at 2720 Sisson Street Baltimore MD behind the alligator mural.

Quotes: Helen Frankenthaler

"The landscapes were in my arms as I did it."
-Helen Frankenthaler on "Mountains and Sea"

*I am going to start including images with every quote I post- much more fun! ~Sarah

A Note on Posts

When I first started writing The Art Caravan,  I said that I would post a Spotlight and a Quote everyday, Monday thru Friday, as well as posts in other categories periodically throughout the week.  However, saying I could and would do that was biting off more than I could chew!  I think that many posts a day, or a week, is my dream- is what I want to do, and what I would do if this blog was my full-time job and not something I do when I come home from working all day.  Obviously, I have not been able to post a Spotlight or Quote everyday, in fact I have not even been able to make a post everyday.  I apologize for not living up to my original claims, and am now revising them to say that my goal is to post at least once a day Monday thru Friday, designating certain days for certain types of posts, i.e. Monday's post will be Spotlight, Tuesday's Quotes, and so on.  I am also bringing in a guest blogger to write a post a week- but more on that later! :) Thank you for reading everything I have been writing so far, and leaving your comments.  I truly appreciate it!  ~Sarah

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Mystery of Picasso

The clip above is from the movie "The Mystery of Picasso," a film by 

Henri-Georges Clouzot. Produced in 1956, it is a documentary that shows 
Picasso himself, painting. Picasso made 20 new artworks just for the film, 
and we watch them be created before our eyes, step-by-step. The artworks 
were made using inks that bleed through the paper, so we are watching in 
real time from behind the canvas, as Picasso reveals "the mystery of creativity."  
By contract, most of the paintings were destroyed when the film was finished.  
The French government declared it a national treasure in 1984. I highly 
recommend it, especially for anyone interested in seeing what truly happens
when an artist- in this case, a master- makes work.

P.S. Obviously, I'm having some formatting issues with the text in this post. I think 
it has something to do with the video, but I can't seem to fix it myself. So, I apologize for
the difficult read, and if anyone has any advice on how to fix this issue, please let me 
know! ~Sarah

Quotes: Eckhart Tolle

"All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness."
-Eckhart Tolle

One of the most well-known and best spiritualists out there, Eckhart Tolle is the author of "The Power of Now" and numerous other books.  The ideas in his books are wonderful and profound, and at least for me, often difficult to truly understand and practice.  He writes about being in the present, being in the now, and how this can bring about happiness and love, as well as inner peace.  These concepts relate very much to art and the process of making art.  Art is very therapeutic for many people, and this is probably because of it's ability to pull you into the present and wipe your mind of all worries while you are engaged in the physical and mental work of the visual process.  As Tolle says, you create from a place of "no-mind", which can be very soothing!  Art comes from the subconscious, from the spiritual side of our minds.  If ever you need to get in touch with yourself, your grace, your unconscious (as cheesy as it all may sound)- or if you even just need to calm down a bit- pick up a pencil and a piece of paper and just draw.  Even if you don't consider yourself an artist, the practice of making art can broaden your understanding of yourself as well as art in general. ~Sarah

Spotlight: Molly Colleen O'Connell

Hello! I have been a little under the weather (flu shot side effects?), and am in the process of trying to get a job at the Mt. Washington Whole Foods.  Busy, busy, busy!  So today I bring you a Spotlight on the work of Molly Colleen O'Connell, whose work I own in my personal collection.  Molly is one of my favorite artists.  She graduated a year ahead of me from MICA with a Printmaking degree, and is a member of the comic book collective Closed Caption Comics.  She also is one of the organizers of the new art gallery and music venue Open Space in Remington.

I am a fan of her print work as well as her comic books, which she prints and binds herself.  Molly draws and prints images of intricate other worlds that she creates.  In these worlds, she tells the stories of the creatures that inhabit them, and the various things they do and adventures they go on.  Sometimes the narrative is strong and easy to follow, and other times the story is hard to follow but the pictures are all you need anyway.  Her creatures and her line-heavy, incredibly creative drawings are enchanting and unreal.  I particularly love (and hope to purchase one day) a print of a little girl milking (?) a huge moose (?).  Sometimes it's hard to tell what's actually happening, but that's what I enjoy about Molly's work: She is asking your to use your imagination, to enter her amazingly imaginative world, and see where it takes you.