Friday, February 18, 2011

Recommended Reads

Normally, I discuss my love of decorative arts and direct you to works that I find compelling. However, today, since I've got lots of time on my hands being done with the thesis and unemployed and all, I thought I would share a few of the blogs that I follow regularly and really enjoy what they have to offer.

First off is my friend Kelly Anne who can be found at Have Degree, Will Travel and Snails and Whales. Kelly and I were in school together before she moved to West Virginia to discover the wilds that Pocahontas County offers with the VISTA program. You can read about those adventures on Snails and Whales. For her fantastic "Door of the Day" series, which features beautiful doors curated from across the internet, visit Have Degree, Will Travel. Kelly is brilliant, funny, and knows her internets. Check her out!

My other recommend is the blog of my good friends over at Whynot Pottery. I've mentioned Whynot before, and if you're not following Meredith's daily goings-on, you're missing a great representation of a slice of life as a potter. While you're reading about making mugs, firing kilns, and their current shows, follow the link to their Etsy shop and buy yourself a little something. I use one of their coffee mugs every day and, trust me, you will not be disappointed by their wares.

Happy Friday and happy reading!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Presidential Medal of Freedom

Yesterday, President Obama recognized civilians who "have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors," by awarding them with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Among the recipients were Maya Angelou and former President George H.W. Bush. But one recipient warmed my heart and gave me hope for the arts in our country. Jasper Johns, painter, was awarded for his works that deal "with themes of perception and identity." (

Best known for his American Flag encaustic, Johns was (is) an Abstract Expressionist, working with Rauschenberg and others to push American painting to a quality and style that was easily on par with the greatest European painters. I've always loved Johns because he represents a time when things could be interpreted in new ways, could take on new meanings, and familiar icons could suddenly challenge thoughts and deeply held beliefs.

Sometimes art should be for us to enjoy and to give us the simple aesthetic pleasures we desire, but it should also at times reflect our humanity, our struggles, and tell a part of the human story. In the same way novels from a time period paint a picture of what life was like at a particular moment, so to does the work of Johns tell us about his perception of American life. Maybe we should be intensely patriotic. Maybe we should question what the flag means for us. Perhaps we should use the art work to examine deeper meanings about who we are. This is why I love art. Because it not only tell us about the artist, it tell us about ourselves.

Congratulations, Jasper Johns. I hope to see other visual artists recognized for their contributions to our society, and that as they are recognized the arts will continue to be funded and supported.

Image from National Gallery of Art. Numbers, 1966