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Moravian First Year Seminars in NYC

Throughout the fall semester of 2011, Moravian College students enrolled in the first-year seminars "The Great Museums of New York" and "Broadway and Beyond: NYC Plays, Players, and Playwrights" will reflect here on what they've learned as they have traveled throughout New York City.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Overall Success

Overall, I would say the fall semester was a success. I learned a lot and gained many experiences from this LinC class. Every trip to the museums brought a new feeling and something to be gained. This class opened my eyes to a new way to interpret art. Art isn't only paintings or drawings or pictures. Art is truly in the eyes of the beholder. It is a form of expression. It expresses ones feelings, and sometimes nothing at all. It can be the result of pure boredom, or skillful representation. Either way, art is what you make of it. It has no defined medium and no boundaries. This class taught me that, and I am glad it did. There is no limit to what one can create when they put their heart into it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

MoMa and Chelsea

Having already been to MoMa this semester, I already new what to expect. Like the first trip, I expected to be underimpressed. However, with less required assignments this time, I found I was more able to see what I wanted and have more time to do so.
One of my assignments was to analyze the de Kooning exhibit. I undersdtood that his brushstrokes and color choices had to do with emotions he was feeling and that all of his paintings had deeper meanings than what a viewer originally sees. However, even with this understanding I found it difficult to fully appreciate. I understand that his paintings are expressive and emotional and I appreciate that. I also can't say de Kooning wasn't talented. What I don't agree with is why he's famous. Anyone given paint can express themself on paper. Their emotions are just as real as de Kooning's and yet the person will never have their own exhibit in a museum so what is it that separates him?
With th de Kooning exhibit as my only assignment, I had more time to look around at what I considered the interesting parts of MoMa. I enjoyed the 3d works the most because I didn't have to look at them as an "art critic" so to say but I could instead interact with them. It was interesting to see everyone in the group's reactions to different pieces rather than their artistic evaluations.
The trip left a lot of free time between leaving MoMa and heading for Chelsea during which time a few of us broke off and explored central park and the lobbies of the ritziest hotels in New York including the Plaza. This was definitely an experience! I learned so much by just being in the city. Chelsea ended up being just as interesting. I actually enjoyed the galleries there more than MoMa. It was so exciting to find a new gallery because there was no way of knowing what was inside. There were some galleries that we literally had to climb over the artwork just to get inside. The galleries were much more interactive than the museum and the artists weren't famous. I think the fact they weren't famous made me appreciate their work even more. These people weren't creating art for profit or because they thought someone would like to hang it in their house; they were creating art to express themselves. To me, this is the truest form of art, uninfluenced by the perception of what art "should" be. The Romans said it best: "Ars gratia artis" or "art for the sake of art."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Semester in Review :)

Looking back on this semester as it comes to a close, I cannot believe that I traipsed around the crowded streets of New York City with my First Year Seminar class FIVE TIMES. Although it was definitely difficult to balance with the marching band’s football schedule, in hindsight I am definitely glad that I made the decision to join this class—the main reason for this being that I got the opportunity to see and do so many things that I would not otherwise have gotten to see or do.

For example, prior to this class, I had only seen one Broadway show. And since it had been a while since I had seen the show, I had somewhat forgotten what the experience of viewing a Broadway show was like. There is nothing quite like live theater, I was once again reminded. Indeed, regardless of people’s opinions regarding the more critical aspects of the show, there is just something special about the “live” aspect of it that no technological advancements can adequately replace, really. (Note, too, that these positive words are coming from one who would have much preferred to see Mary Poppins and The Lion King over Hair and Spiderman. On the other hand, though, Warhorse is a play that I probably would never have made time to see outside of this class, but I am so thoroughly glad that I went, as that production was completely phenomenal.

It is a similar situation with the museums that we got to visit. For instance, I had heard of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum prior to this class, and I had heard about Frank Lloyd Wright and his geometric architecture (particularly focusing on curves). However, I had never actually seen the museum, just as I had never actually seen in person a building whose architecture was a “product” of Frank Lloyd Wright’s. In our visit to the Guggenheim, I beheld both an incredibly designed museum and an incredible example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s telling style of architectural design.

Of all of our museum visits, I think my biggest shock in general came from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Again, of course I had heard of the Met. But for all of its fame, I myself had never seen it, for one reason or another. Before I even entered it, I was amazed at the sheer size of it, and its impressive architecture. This amazement only continued to increase as we meandered through a mere few of the many, many sections of the museum. Not only was the place large in size, but it had a seemingly endless supply of art on display. We would go from room to room and I could not stop being stunned by the immense quantity of art. The Met seems like one of those places that you could go to practically every day without it ever getting old.

In addition, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and the Museum of the American Indian were very interesting. I also enjoyed attending the MAAFA Suite performance, and visiting the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of the City of New York. The variation among our trip itineraries was what made the trips as a whole worthwhile.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

MoMA aGaiN

I have been to the MoMA before and was not particularly impressed. By anything by the art deco chairs at least. Perhaps my negative perception from the previous trip is what made this visit much more enjoyable then planned.
Considering that this was not a routine class fieldtrip, but rather an art department trip, I had several assignments to complete –and less time to actually appreciate the artwork. For drawing and design we were supposed to look at the de Kooning exhibition.
It was after this show that I realized how horrible of an art critic I truly am. I found myself drawn to de Kooning’s most realistic piece –a still from a drawing class. The bowl, pitcher and jug were drawn with such realism that I admire. I spent most of my time in the exhibit trying to understand the technique of his works rather than thought process behind them.
I was drawn perhaps to the least emotional piece in all of the rooms. A true critic digs deeper and judges not only the technique but the ignition of thought. What drove the artist to create this? Why are the strokes so violent, so jagged, and so blue? Instead I looked at what kind of lines he made, they were painted, and they were oil.
It is unfortunate that I now have to analyze de Kooning’s work, a group of pieces I did not come close to understanding. I wish I had done more research on the specific exhibit before the trip. I find it easier to connect the discussion of technique if I see the piece soon after. At least then I know what to look for. Finding some research about the author’s background I think is quite helpful as well (prior to visiting the museum). Sometimes I think that it is easier to make sense of what an artist is doing on the canvas if you know what decade they were working in or
what events or ideas they were influenced by. De Kooning at one point was studying motion. But to someone like me who didn’t know that –he was just randomly throwing color on a canvas.
I honestly feel that though I did not “reap the benefits” so to say and learn about de Kooning enough to write about him, I did learn something –I think that is maybe even more important. I now know that there is more to art then how well it is made. Though I knew it before, I did not truly recognize that intent and background play a huge role in the definition of a piece. This trip to MoMA has taught me more than any other museum visit or classroom lecture. I feel I have become a more mature artist and critic, knowing what to look for and acknowledging what I had missed. I am confident that at my next museum I will absorb and appreciate far more in one visit then I have in all the ones prior combined.

Scavenger Hunt in the MoMA

This past weekend I revisited the Museum of Modern Art with my mom. The last time we attended the MoMA together we didn’t have the best experience. My mom ended up becoming sick from being so claustrophobic because the galleries were so packed full of people. This put a damper on my first time in the MoMA and I didn’t really feel like returning any time soon, however, I rather enjoyed myself going on Saturday.

I entered the MoMA with a mission. I had an assignment to find six pieces of artwork, with only a section of each piece on a paper. My mom and I scoured the museum searching for these works and it turned into quite the competition. We both had a great time together and the assignment forced us to look through each gallery and see all the pieces the museum had to offer. After this second time at the MoMA my opinion of the museum has completely changed. I can’t wait to go to New York and visit the Museum of Modern Art once again.

One piece I had to find: Pablo Picasso’s drawing, Interior with a Girl

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Going to Venus would have been more exciting...

Here’s a throwback to our second to last New York trip. This one was another LONG day, and we all know how those really get to me. This time though neither show got me through the day. The stronger of the two in my opinion was Other Desert Cities. It was a simplistic set with not very many characters but it still had very many strong qualities to it. The best part about it was the acting; the emotion all the actors and actresses had was so realistic. I can’t imagine summoning that amount of anger and sadness for such a long period time when you don’t really have a reason to be either of those. At the same time that was what I did not enjoy about the show, it was so angry which is not my kind of subject matter.

The second show, Venus in Fur freaked me out from the time we first started talking about it. It was advertised as “90 minutes of good kinky fun” and that made me question what the heck we were going to see it! Although it did not turn out to be as scandalous as I imagined I still did not enjoy it at all. There were very few funny moments and I just found the plot kind of weird and strange. I was trying to like it but its repetition bored me :(

From War Horse to Spiderman

Going into this city trip I was already aware of what show I was going to like and what show was going to disappoint me. War Horse was even better than I expected with its flawless use of puppets and the amazing story and set. The show had just the right amount of effects and truly made the audience FEEL for Joey. This show had me literally on the edge of my seat and I'm proud to say I had tears in my eyes. The tour after the show was the Best thing we have done all semester. Getting the chance to go back stage on a Broadway show was like a dream for me. For me that should have ended our trip, Spiderman was a waste of time, energy, and should never have made it onto a Broadway stage. The effects I was so looking forward to seemed cheesy and lacked purpose. Overall the show was worse than I expected and that’s saying a lot.