Paradoxes

Steph Saxton '14 was one of 137 students who traveled to NYC for the fall term art trip. Saxton spent her day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Walking through, you are put in a sensory driven trance.  You observe and observe until you’re looking at the lines on the cafĂ© and the guards and the pamphlets with the same eyes as you are the art.  You walk the stairs with the same milky, creamy stroll as you do when circling the Metropolitan Kouros.  You take on this “art-gait”.  Hands in pockets, on a bag, occupied.  Left hip falls dramatically, then right.  Heel-toe, in a slow, syrupy, way coating the art with yourself, letting it stick to you, then sliding to the next almost groggily.  Here you experience one of the paradoxes of art observation—both heightened senses and a desensitization.  You are hyper-sensitive to the gleam, the color, the scent, the temperature of each place, your proximity from the piece.  Simultaneously, so many other things are ignored by your nerves.  You lose your peripheral view, lose those around you, lose a sense of time.  You are equally unaware of the current year as you are aware that this piece in front of you was made millennia ago.  You become aware of the multitude of cultures different from your own, yet each piece regardless of culture can reflect a facet of you.  Art observation is all paradoxes. 

Today the Kohei Nawa piece was particularly affecting to me.
 

It exemplified the biggest paradox of all art of its kind: depicting life in death.  This sculpture is a taxidermied stag covered in clear marbles.  The bigger ones give you a magnified picture of the strands of hair.  Clear orbs.  Lively, cyclic, evoking life.  They heighten the color of the stag and capture light, adding life to this paradoxically dead creature. 

I find that is a common theme to have life evoking images and shapes in images of death.  It’s true for grave stones, sarcophagi, any funerary piece, any embellishment of the dead like the example here. 


Comments