Addressing sexual assault in the United States through the lenses of de Goya’s “Disasters of Wars”

A couple posts back, I wrote about the Blanton Museum of Art here on campus, which is home to some really cool temporary and permanent exhibitions. Last semester, Francisco de Goya’s etchings were here on display, and for one of my classes, I wrote a paper using the themes in his etchings to look at sexual assault in the United States today. It’s definitely a pretty long read — but it’s also a subject that needs to be addressed.

(de Goya, F. 1810-1820. Real Academia Calcografía. Etching. Davidson Galleries.)

Continue reading

a four-leaf clover — hard to find and lucky to have

This past weekend, one of my best friends came down to visit me in Austin for half a day. Given we didn’t really have that much time, we spent our time mostly on campus. UT actually has a really nice art museum (the Blanton Museum of Art), and it just so happened that there was a Blanton Block Party going on the day she came, so we stopped by that (before we went to go get some amazing Indian food and boba, of course!)

Continue reading

An instant out of time

Back when I had more time, I used to draw still life sketches. My grandmother, who is an amazing artist, taught me how everything I know about art today. Her art teacher wanted her to be an artist too, but she ended up pursuing a career in language. But after she retired, she immediately went back to drawing. Sometime, I’ll have to show y’all some of her art. Now THAT is talent. I call myself an emerging chick. 😛

And then a sneak peak on what I’m still working on:

Wanderlust: Boston (lifestyle & the arts)

When we weren’t roaming the streets of Boston, we headed over to some of the markets and museums. Quincy Market is a huge building filled to the brim with restaurants selling heavenly food (you’ve got to try the clam chowder and eat lots of lobster!). The Museum of Science was a highly-interactive and educational museum for people of all ages, while the Museum of Fine Arts is definitely catered more towards the artsy people who won’t get bored wandering a beautifully-designed architectural building filled with timeless pieces of art. While you’re there, book a visit to hear the Boston Symphony Orchestra play; it’s not too expensive, and it’s very much worth your time.

We visited during Spring Break, but it was still freezing.

We visited during Spring Break, but it was still freezing.

Continue reading

Thoughts That Breathe: A Pair of Shoes

“A Pair of Shoes” – Vincent Van Gogh

A poem based off of the following painting (“A Pair of Shoes”) by Vincent Van Gogh.

I remember the smile on your face when you scored your very first goal on the soccer field.
I remember the cries of pain when you fell down from your bike at age 4.
I remember your eagerness, as we first walked into your kindergarten class and your classmates ran over to hug you.
I remember your grief, when you understood that the world could be very cruel to even an eight-year-old.
I remember your happiness, when you finally found love under a night full of beautiful stars.

I remember everything you remember, and much, much more.

I remember watching you as you cried yourself to sleep, wishing I could wipe away your tears.
I remember walking with you along the river, wishing you would tell me what happened.
I remember laughing silently when you spilled your chocolate milk all over me.
I remember the joy I felt when you walked across that stage.
I remember wishing all these moments would last forever.

But I’m old and worn-out now, and I will no longer be able to walk down these paths with you for much longer.

I’ll no longer be able to see or remember everything with you.

Will you remember me, too?

Will you remember all the times we ran across the grass, feeling like nothing could ever hold us back?
Will you remember all the times we sat together on the back porch, enjoying the silence?
Will you remember all the times we looked at the moon together, in awe of its brightness?
Will you remember all the times we walked together — sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes feeling just fine?
Will you remember?

***

Here I am, sitting alone in this home that used to light up whenever you were awake.
Here I am, bearing the gusts of wind and rain alone; no one will hold the umbrella for me anymore.
Here I am, listening to the cheers of the little soccer players outside — just like I did years ago.
Here I am, feeling bored, because it’s weird being by myself again.
Here I am now, growing weaker, for without your support and love to fill me,
I am but just a pair of shoes.

van-gogh-a-pair-of-shoes

The Silk Road: Meet the people, the art & the lifestyle

Xinjiang was our final stop on the Silk Route, thus concluding my two-week long trip that began in Xi’an and passed through three uniquely beautiful provinces. But perhaps more interesting than the scenery were the people themselves, a diverse and hospitable group who truly treasured their heritage, and their lifestyles.

another photo from the performance

another photo from the performance

Continue reading

How to realize his question, let alone his answer?

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 5.28.57 PM

Above is Jackson Pollock’s No. 1, an abstract oil painting on canvas. It looks like, well, paint splattered on a canvas. It’s chaotic, but at 6 feet tall and 9 feet wide, no doubt it’s also overwhelming. At first glance, it seems as if the colors are chosen carelessly, applied in no particular order and serves no actual purpose.

But after staring at it for a while, the painting begins to take shape. It begins to look more and more like a winter/spring scene, with the blue-white snow and pink roses in the background. The top colors, yellow and green, seem to imply that spring has come and is overtaking the winter with its vibrance and vitality…

No name but a number.
Trickles and valleys of paint
Devise this maze
Into a game of Monopoly
Without any bank. Into
A linoleum on the floor
In a dream. Into
Murals inside of the mind.
No similes here. Nothing
But paint. Such purity
Taxes the poem that speaks
Still of something in a place
Or at a time.
How to realize his question
Let alone his answer?

Now, here’s a poem by Nancy Sullivan. It speaks to the idea of abstract and modern art itself, that the observer controls what he or she sees (a Monopoly with any bank). There is, literally, nothing but paint, and its purity rejects anyone’s attempt to impose a purpose on it. We will never know why he choose to paint this piece. Unlike most art pieces, which are either reactions or imitations of the artist’s surroundings, Pollock’s art cannot be used to determine anything about his mindset or character.

The painting isn’t for the artist; it’s for the observer. By not giving the piece a name but a number, Pollock prevents the onlooker to extract anything about the painting from him, the artist. The art looks for inspiration within us, not Pollock. Thinking back to when I first reacted to the painting, I remember comparing it to things I had seen before, memories and images in my mind. And sure enough, as I had taken a long walk in the forest behind my house right before I sat down to write this blog post, I definitely noted how bad my allergies had become, thanks to the abundance of bright plants and the sweet smell of flowers…the arrival of spring. Pollock’s art is a medium for us to realize OUR questions, and OUR answers.

And that’s the beauty of abstract art. So many people lament the direction that art has taken, wishing we could return to the styles and beauty of the Renaissance and thinking, “Heck, anyone can splatter some paint on a canvas nowadays and call it art.” But this art is different. This is not Van Dyke, where today we argue whether the Arnolfini Portrait was meant to honor a beloved but dead wife, or to celebrate a marriage. This is the art of the observer, where each person derives meaning of a piece from their soul, where everyone’s vision is different but all are true.

Frighted with False Fire

The Play Scene in 'Hamlet' (Daniel Maclise, 1806-1870)

The Play Scene in ‘Hamlet’ (Daniel Maclise, 1806-1870)

The above oil on canvas was painted by Daniel Maclise, a painter from Ireland, in 1842. Maclise’s work was often focused on literary and historical figures and scenes, and The Playscene in Hamlet (depicted above) is one his many paintings. The original is housed at the Tate Gallery (size: 60 x 108 inches).

Like the name suggests, The Play-scene in Hamlet depicts, well, the play-scene in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, where Hamlet and Horatio observe King Claudius’s reaction to the Murder of Gonzago. 

HAMLET: He poisons him i' the garden for's estate. His name's Gonzago: the story is extant, and writ in choice Italian: you shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife. 
OPHELIA: The king rises. 
HAMLET: What, frighted with false fire! 
QUEEN GERTRUDE: How fares my lord? 
LORD POLONIUS: Give o'er the play.
KING CLAUDIUS: Give me some light: away! Away!

In the painting, Hamlet is lying on the ground (in a creepy way, with an even creepier look on his face) as he stares intently at King Claudius, as if to look into his very soul. Claudius can no longer look at the play, as it reminds him of his guilt and his murder of his own brother, and a look of guilt and perhaps even remorse crosses his face. Queen Gertrude, who does not know of the murder yet, watches the play (with a relatively neutral look on her face), while Ophelia stares sadly (sympathetically?) at Hamlet and Horatio (at least, I think the one standing behind Ophelia is Horatio?) focuses on the King’s reaction to the play. Everyone else (Polonious, the lords and ladies) are watching the Murder of Gonzago, which is at the center of this piece.

The play itself is ominous, with the the lamp in front casting eerie shadows across the actors. That scene is particularly noteworthy: the murderer (in the play) turns his back to the audience to hide his identity, but the light (the truth) shines on him and reveals his clear features through the shadows on the wall. It’s a clear reminder to Claudius that his actions cannot forever be hidden, that soon, all will know of the atrocious act he committed. Yet, the play certainly isn’t the focus of this scene; rather, we are supposed to look at the facial expressions and details in the specific moment that Maclise captures with his painting. From the looks on each of the important characters’ faces, we see their deepest feelings and secrets; we see into their minds. Just as notable are the  tapestries of Cain and Abel on the walls that allude to the circumstances of King Hamlet’s death. Maclise’s work beautifully commands the emotions across the characters’ faces and their actions, while the intricate details add depth to our understanding of both the painting and of the original work itself.