Art and Culture

Van Gogh

Van Gogh

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston invited the public to choose their favorite impressionist art piece for a special Impressionist Exhibit. My friend and I voted, and as advertised, we received our free tickets.

We enjoyed every moment of our day at the museum, as we were able to explore the floors of visual history with only invited distractions.

Reading, observing, exploring and learning was time well spent away from the monotony of motherhood. I never enjoyed museums when I was younger, they always bored me, as I never understood what I was looking at, and why it was of any importance. Thoughts like “I can make that…in pre-school nonetheless”, would take over my mind as I was supposed to be ooohing and ahhhing at said “masterpieces”.

Pikachu and Jigglypuff by Kaden Lewis (my 3 year old)
Estimated worth: Priceless through their mothers’ eyes:)

Oxidation Painting by Andy Warhol
estimated worth over 1 million dollars

Fortunately, the art world has started to mean something to me, as Iʼve come to understand art for more than what it looks like, but for the story that it can tell, the message it can try to project.

Photo Credit: Kristin Veader

One of the wings at the MOFA displayed a huge, wall sized painting of our

nations first President. He sat, heroically posed upon his horse, while a battle raged

beside him. I was left with an impression of a brave and valiant man, yet on closer

observation it became clear that the painter was not likely sitting amidst the battlefield

with easel, canvas and paints. But the image invoked a feeling, a perception of a man I

had never met, a scene I had never experienced, whether real or not, my senses were

stimulated. Another interesting piece by Andy Warhol, in the contemporary wing, was

his famous Oxidation Painting, valued well over one million dollars, where he invited the

public to urinate on his canvas to observe the reaction it had with a copper pigment he

was using. Itʼs art, is it not? After all, art is subjective, and itʼs not art because itʼs

beautiful or unique, it is part of history, reflecting culture and shaping it.

IMG_2516

          The counterculture of the 60ʼs and 70ʼs to todayʼs youth is similar to how a teen

from the 60ʼs might have viewed the culture of the 1920ʼs. Iʼm 28 years old, I graduated

high school in 2003, when “music”, like “The Thong Song” were trending. To quote Bob Dylan,

“the time they are a-changing.” Today, mainstream media has successfully sexualized any and

everything, from animate to inanimate things. Commercials project wonder drugs for

everything, from hang nails to hangovers. Soft music plays, with visions of butterflies and

flowers, as a voice recites the ongoing lists of possible side effects. The billboard top 40 is

infiltrated with pornographic, morality slaying, x-rated lyrical content, under the guise of

“artistic expression”, and “freedom of speech”. Well, any form of self expression can be labeled

as “art”. I can put some words to a beat and call it music, or words in a certain meter and call it

poetry. Being artistic isn’t about something being necessarily good or bad, or representing what

the eyes  can behold as beauty. Creative acts reflect intent and purpose .

         An author writes with a goal in mind, to leave itsʼ readers with a feeling of

excitement, sadness, confusion, hope, etc. When you start to read art like a story, the

artist can cultivate the same power, as can mainstream media, including movies, music,

reality shows, and social media. They all project images, words, emotions, standards for

behavior and much more. This mural, titled “Paint for Peace” began as a project to cultivate

hope amidst a hurting community given the overwhelmingly high statistics of heroin and opiate

use among the old, and tragically the young. For one year I have been teaching art classes in

various restaurants, cafeʼs, craft fairs, and community events, working to cultivate creativity,

pointing participants to Godʼs peace, and how to keep it.

    In our culture, here in America, and across the world, we cannot deny the power of visual

imagery upon the soul. My year long artistic venture has taught me a valuable lesson,

that art does not have to define a culture. We the people can use art to impact a

culture, a small town, or most importantly, our youth! We can use a visual symbol to

strengthen heavy hearts, to minister life and light to those who are willing to open the windows

of their hearts to see what the eyes cannot.

For this project, every participant was asked to paint something to symbolize an inner sense of peace, amidst lifeʼs unpredictable circumstances. I have collected over 100 pieces from some experienced painters, but mostly from people who never thought they could paint. People who have endured hardships, and grief beyond belief. People who have had great success and failures, recovering drug addicts, children, mothers, fathers, grandfathers, teachers, preachers, people from all walks of life. At the close of every class I photographed each participants finished piece, then printed the images onto 4X6 photo paper. Next, I drew the outline of a dove onto a 4X4 ft piece of plywood, where I then pieced each image within the silhouette, using mod modge as the medium to adhere them together. Lastly, I painted the wood white, and the image will soon be printed into a banner for the town of Saugus.

 

Thank you to everyone who participated and supported me to make this possible.

From my heart to yours,

Michelle

IMG_0645This was the tagline for the project from Phillipians 4:6-9

Verse 8: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virture, and if there be any praise, think on these things.