During a recent visit to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA), I came across an exhibit of 20th and 21st Century Art. Although I’m often not a fan of what is in these galleries, they changed since the last time I walked through there and I was impressed by their creativity. For this week’s photo challenge of “walls“, I wanted to share some of what I saw.
Woman Facing Wall by John DeAndrea
This sculpture is cast from a real model, with the scars and blemishes added in as the artist created her. What fascinated me was that despite the gray tones used on her skin, she was so life like! I fully expected her to lift her head up from the wall and say “gotcha!”. Her muscle tone, stretch marks (look at her right hip), and nails were just perfect.
Here’s a close-up of some details:
The Former and the Ladder or Ascension and a-Cinchin’ by Trenton Doyle Hancock
There’s so much to notice on this picture! I found it easy to look at though – the artist does a good job of moving your eyes around it without causing mass confusion. As for meaning, it’s whatever I, the viewer, want to make of it. Is it about the glory of something past? Or feeling like I’ve never arrived? Is it a commentary on work and climbing the corporate ladder? It’s hard to tell, but I found myself thinking about it for quite a while.
Here’s a close-up of some details:
Zero Hour from the Wayfarer Series by Hank Willis Thomas
According to the sign, this exhibit was to explore assumptions and attitudes about black identity, as well being “an emblem of racial hybridity”. This is the reason for why the model is half black / half in white face.
There were several notable things about this exhibit. As you can see, the model turns from fully black to partially black / partially white to all white as you move from right to left. The glass is frosted, so that no matter where you stand, only one panel is in focus. The rest is blurry. And it seemed that because of that, the model was looking right at you no matter where you stood.
Vessel by Radcliffe Bailey
Surprisingly, this was not about Christopher Columbus (notice there is only one ship). It was about slavery. The artists’ ancestors escaped slavery through the Underground Railroad by following the North Star. The ship represents passage from Africa, the glass is displacement, and the map is the Mason-Dixon line along with the regiment numbers of blacks who served in the Civil War.
Here’s some detail:
Four Men in Formal Attire (after Guston) by Charles McGill
Before I explain this picture, take a close look at it. Does it remind you of anything? It did me and I don’t mean in a positive way either. It strongly reminded me of the hoods of the Ku Klux Klan.
Reading the description, that is what the artist wanted. I’d even go another step and say that the rims of the golf bags remind me of chains used to bind slaves together around their waists. I would have never imagined golf bags to be so evocative, which is why I found this so creative.
Xilempasto 6 by Henrique Oliveira
This was the first museum piece sold by this artist. It consists of plywood that has been soaked, stained and painted. In the end, it looks like driftwood, doesn’t it?
Here are the wall cards explaining each picture. I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour. Whether you like what the artist did or not, it was certainly different!
To see what others did with this challenge, click here.
Virginia Virginia Museum of Fine Art Weekly Photo Challenge Charles McGill Four Men in Formal Attire (after Guston) Hank Willis Thomas Henrique Oliveira John DeAndrea Radcliffe Bailey Richmond The Former and the Ladder or Ascension and a-Cinchin' Trenton Doyle Hancock Vessel Virginia Virginia Museum of Fine Art weekly photo challenge Woman Facing Wall Xilempasto 6 Zero Hour from the Wayfarer Series
I am a backyard adventurer, philosopher and observer, recording my life in journals and photographs. Visit my blog at www.livingtheseasons.com.