My first exposure to art was when I was around 4 years old. My sister was 16 at the time, trading in her rollerblade-chic look of mommy jeans and middle-parted hair for tighter black camisoles and hip-hop music. (Shout out to artists such as Sisqó and Lauryn Hill, the oldies but goodies). She also began parting her hair to the side.
Along with her love of hip-hop/R&B music, my sister had a love — and eye — for paintings. Next to her posters of Usher and *NSYNC (I’m more of a Backstreet Boys girl), she had up posters of Vincent van Gogh’s iconic “Starry Night” and Gustave Caillebotte’s “Paris Street; Rainy Day.”
I don’t know if this was a common thing for schools to do, but my elementary and middle schools would host an annual, weeklong event called “Art Goes to School.” During this week, parents in the PTA would come in during our art classes with large posters of famous paintings by van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, to name a few. They would sit us down and give us a few minutes to observe the pictures. Then, they would ask us questions.
“What did you like about the picture? Why do you think the artist used orange for the flowers instead of white or pink?”
I think I can speak for the rest of my classmates when I say that we were more than uninterested. Our little 8-year-old brains did not yet possess the capacity for higher thinking of this caliber. However, this art initiative by my school district did allow for greater exposure to the various styles of art and to art in general — even if it were only for one week out of every year. The whole purpose of Art Week was to encourage autonomous thinking in the artistic realm and to expose us to a diversified range of things outside of mathematics and the sciences.
Much like my school’s art initiatives, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art just launched a new program on March 25 entitled “The Artist Project” that examines the museum’s vast and extensive collection of artworks through the eyes of 100 contemporary artists. Artists are to choose a single work or gallery that “rocks their world,” Christopher Noey, the director of the project, told Architectural Digest.
“The Artist Project” will be presented through 100 episodes that will be posted on the Met’s website. The 100-long series will be presented in five seasons, each season being 20 episodes long. The project will not only have contemporary artists’ musings on their favorite pieces, but it will also feature curators and staff members of the 145-year-old museum itself.
“We wanted an array of voices as diverse as our collections and our audience,” Noey told Architectural Digest. Highlights from the first season include George Condo, Mickalene Thomas, Tom Sachs and Cory Arcangel.
The word “museum” has classical origins with its Greek form mouseion meaning “seat of the Muses,” a place of philosophical contemplation. “The Artist Project” brings a whole new meaning to this word, as people will now be offered a glimpse into an artist’s mind as he interprets his choice of artwork and muses aloud.