The Artist and the Anthropologist

Whether it’s true or not, we often believe that someone is watching. So we alter our behavior to be whatever we think “they” want it to be.

This was once best enforced in prisons with the concept of a few unseen guards to monitor the many, and today with security cameras (don’t adjust your clothes in the elevator). It has a word: panopticon. I learned about this from the anthropologist…she’s my cousin.

large.panopticon

Family Visits: They’re Educational, Too!

Visiting relatives has the rich opportunity to learn family history, get the scoop on black sheep, and to downright learn things you didn’t know.

I’m lucky to consider my cousins as friends. Not only are they funny, but they’re fascinating. Right now we’re talking about the clan-currently-living-in-Raleigh. But a quick shout out to the Atlanta folk who are sprinkled throughout prior posts for their spectacular support, savvy, and humor.

Alright, that should put me in good stead for the next gift exchange.

The Anthropologist

Her job is to go to sites ready for construction, but it’s known/suspected that there are archeological artifacts there. She and her colleagues unearth and document them. Saving history one day at a time.

While working in the field or on a casual hike, she’ll come across animal skulls. Being the scientist that she is, she brings them home and places them on bookshelves, the mantle, etc. In some settings, candidly, this would scare the bejeezus out of me. Here, it’s simply what it is: fascination with nature, form, and function. We pulled them out (Ok, I pulled them out) and looked at their teeth. I’ve never had cause to think much about animal teeth before and was amazed to find which looked like human teeth (carnivores) and which were layered in a swirly way (cud grinders). Saw beaver teeth – quite offensive, actually. They really need braces to hold those things in….

Her demeanor and the fact that she has a Masters degree made me feel comfortable to share that recently I’ve found new divots in my head. Three, in fact. She confessed (conspiratorially) that she has too and tried to research what they mean, but couldn’t. We emphatically decided it means nothing. Er, we decided it means nothing. Er, we decided it means nothing.

The Artist

I NEVER would have gone a walk through a sculpture garden had he not proposed it. Blah blah, quirky things. And I like quirky things, but sometimes bigger quirky is not better quirky. But as it turns out, he was right.

The Raleigh Sculpture Garden is glorious. And the main reason: the art is placed in harmony with its space. It’s not simply erected…there. They study the land for the best place that connects the art and the flow of the path with the shape of the piece. Just like a frame can enhance or overpower a canvas, so, too, the location of a sculpture is essential to its impact.

Gyre at the Raleigh Sculpture Garden

"Gyre" by Thomas Sayre; not my photo

In addition to his art installations, which we’ll visit momentarily, he has gigs like being a preparator. He coordinates logistics for temporary exhibits. Getting the art to and fro and installed. Another new vocabulary word that is certain to pop up in daily conversation.

The Science of Art

Looking at lithographs, carvings, etchings, I knew work was involved, clearly. But the incredible labor of love and time was beyond impressive.

Preparing slates, grease type A for this, type B for that; acid of some sort to remove and [something] to enhance. Ink, test proofs, multiple layers for different colors. Plus the talent to create something eye-pleasing or eye-compelling.

It brought to life the Picasso adage that it didn’t take a few minutes to create a piece of art, it took a lifetime. (Hence the pricetag)

Making Ends Meet

(I’m stealing a show title with that subhead.) Artist-cousin weaves coffee stirrers found at Starbucks (he orders them in bulk) into gallery sized installations that you can see through and around. It is an experience beyond anything you can imagine. But let’s try. It’s like being inside of a basket, but with more see-through space. And the basket is room-size. And the lighting is gentle. The sticks stay together with tencil strength and they wave and curve and plunge and reach for the heights.

He weaves every single stirrer one-by-one. Learn more about him at his website. And check out a few photos (that I didn’t take and scanned poorly). Click on the pic to advance to the next image.

What do you learn from your family?

 

 

 

 

One Response

Is Brilliant a family name or his artist name (is there a correlative to “nom de plume” for artists, I wonder)? Whatever, I found this totally fascinating. What a creative person – and one who can leave it behind and move on even when it breaks is someone that I really admire. I hope I have an opportunity to see his works in person some day.

I’m reading the novel The Sea by Banville who speaks about art saying “there is no finishing a work, only the abandoning of it.” The artist Bonnard went with a friend to a museum. He had his friend distract the museum guard while he “whips out his paint box and reworks a patch of a picture of his own that had been hanging there for years.”

Artists are another breed, but Jonathan seems to have his feet on the ground, though his head is in a place that’s foreign and exciting. Thanks for bringing him to us.

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