Friday, February 29, 2008

SMFA Traveling Scholars Exhibit

Before visiting the SMFA Traveling Scholars Exhibit I initially did not know what to expect. We entered a long hallway of eccentric three dimensional images pouring out from the brightly colored walls. Leading up to a case of silver vases with mirrored depth perception that seemed to be endless. Then the 'real' exhibit begins... My first glance at all the artwork make me wonder, what was so great about this art? I could throw something like this together... It seemed to be the most chaotic art I've ever seen before. Then I came across the artwork of Leslie Hall. She has taken the meaning of artwork to an entirely different level. From her "Great Battle for Des Moines And My Love" -that depicts a fight between King Kong & an enormously large tiger behind a woman sun bathing on top of a red sports car, to her song and stage show; she has visually displayed her fantasy dream worlds that have appealed to and gotten a lot of attention from most of the exhibitors.


Joseph said...

I'm glad someone chose to write about Leslie Hall, her pieces were a standout for me as well.

Not exactly clear on what you mean by "taken the meaning of artwork to an entirely different level," so I can't really agree with that. But it seems that what she's done is mix the older, bold/flashy pop-art styles with a more personally-focused subject (read: herself). It's a less snarky approach than a lot of the post-modern/pop-art stuff I've seen because it doesn't allow for the lazy detachment that so much of that kind of art possesses: "oh I see you've painted a can of Coke dry humping the World Trade Center! edgy! how avant-garde!" ...Not so much... But by putting herself in the pieces (lounging back on the hood a car, no less!) she's implicating herself in whatever pop-culture she's commenting on. There's no annoying detachment, and it seems she's celebrating and reveling in the kitsch and cheesy-American-ness of it all as opposed to criticizing it. This seems to be a similar theme in her music videos too (actual rapping skill aside...). I hope I'm making at least a little sense here, haha...

But anyway, cool to see other people in the class enjoyed her stuff. Her website is here if anyone is curious to see more of her stuff. And there are some songs and music videos on her Myspace here.

dangross said...

I'm glad someone wrote about Leslie Hall too. I've seen her work in a few places including Vice Magazine. Visually, her work is colorful and entertaining. It is also so "lame" it's cool. Her gem sweaters are a perfect example of this. Much of her inspiration comes directly from the fat of American popular culture. I don't think that Joseph really understands that this is completely intentional. Leslie Hall is a modern Andy Warhol. She takes commercialism and tragic trends like the gem sweater epidemic of the Midwest and reflects in a way that makes them art.

Joseph said that she is celebrating the obscenity of popular culture instead of criticizing it. Must we have a strong opinion about American commercialism? Yes, it is somewhat of a shame that we have this homogenous blob of a modern culture, but some people hear something on the Daily Show and pretend that it's their opinion. Our modern culture is a bit watered down, but we kind of like it that way, unfortunately. It is the choice of the American people to live like this. I'm certain Joseph has bought something like a guitar on the internet instead of the mom 'n pop music store down the street because it was half the price.

Either way, Leslie isn't criticizing it or promoting it. It just is. Art doesn't need to have a radical liberal political motivation in order to be art. Some art is beautiful because it has a serious point. Some art just is. There is no required motivation for art to be legitimate and I think Joseph was looking at her work with a pre-established opinion to which any evidence would validate it.

Prof LL said...

Here is an interesting debate developing: does art have to "say" something to be art? To be "good" art? Contemporary art? Keep thinking about these questions.