March 5, 2021 Weekly Musings

Christine Alfery

Posted on March 05 2021

March 5, 2021 Weekly Musings

No One Knew

Mar 1, 2021 

Just finished framing and mounting this piece. And hung it in my front entry. Must say I am impressed. It looks very good there so I thought I would share it with you all. No One Knew She Had Wings, 30x40

I didn't think I would have this piece done in time for the CVA but "wa la" - I did. You can see the largeness of this work and the wow-ness of this work when it is hanging in the CVA Independent Spirits Exhibition from March 12th- May 7th.

CLICK HERE to learn more.


Featured image: Going to My Happy Place

March 2, 2021

OC Part XI  Words Continued

Aesthetics – just what is aesthetics? I had to teach my art students how to think about aesthetics. When I learned about aesthetics, which is part of my foundation, there was a huge debate surrounding the word and the word “beautiful” which was associated with the word “aesthetics.”. The word, beauty as well as aesthetics, carries a lot of baggage with it. Below is one citation I found online in “The Phrase Finder” about the word beauty;

Shakespeare expressed a similar sentiment in Love's Labours Lost, 1588:
Good Lord Boyet, my beauty, though but mean,
Needs not the painted flourish of your praise:
Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye,
Not utter'd by base sale of chapmen's tongues

Benjamin Franklin, in Poor Richard's Almanack, 1741, wrote:
Beauty, like supreme dominion
Is but supported by opinion
>David Hume's Essays, Moral and Political, 1742, include:
"Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them."

Margaret Hungerford coined 'beauty is in the eye
of the beholder' - taking her lead from 16th century authors like Shakespeare.

The person who is widely credited with coining the saying in its current form is Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (née Hamilton), who wrote many books, often under the pseudonym of 'The Duchess'.

In Molly Bawn, 1878, there's the line "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", which is the earliest citation that I can find in print.

I found that there were many curriculums. The nice thing about art curriculums from back when I was teaching, was that the art teachers were frequently allowed to develop their own curriculum because “art” wasn’t as important as the other subjects. Art, for the most part, provided a break for the teachers. My favorite was the one developed by the Getty Foundation. In a nutshell, aesthetics is the “ah” moment. Getty recommended putting a glass of water in front of your students, give them some blue paint watered down and have them add it to the water.

It never failed. As the students were pouring the blue paint into the clear water there was always a universal “ah” moment in the room. There was silence as they all watched the blue paint flow wonderfully through the clear water. Each student was lost in their own revery of the moment. This is an aesthetic moment – unique, individualized and personally subjective.

There are other moments like these that have become part of object culture. My favorite example is the lava lamp, but then there are also the flames in a fire or candle. The song of birds, the sound of the wind. The difference between the lava lamp, and the others, the one is part of object culture and the others are not.

For me, the aesthetic moment is exactly like the blue paint flowing through the water every time, no exception. It is a subjective moment and it is part of the foundation that can be found in the word “art.” Subjective moments can be part of object culture. That is they can be controlled, governed and marketable and they can be personal and unique for every individual.

The trick is to figure out for yourself – which one is which. And then you will know which is real and which is not. The same holds true for art. Once you realize which one is real, as in the velveteen Rabbit, then you will know which one is real, authentic, true and honest.

The words true and honest are words that have ethical trappings, just like the word art, especially when you link them to philosophical ethics. But, for the most part, it’s easy once you first experience something to realize whether it is part of object culture or not. The ethical qualities of objects that are part of object culture generally encourage fun, wealth, beauty and status and are all group oriented. They are part of collective thinking, not individual aesthetic genuine ethical thinking. They are not part of stereotypical expectations. Rather, they are all about the “ah” moment.


Featured image: Yellow Bowl Blue Bowl

March 3, 2021

Object Culture Part XII  words continued. Aesthetic continued

Getty’s aesthetic moment example happens to me every time I prepare my coffee in the morning. I like milk in my coffee and a spoonful of maple syrup. When I add the milk and syrup to the coffee they are like the blue paint in the clear water. Slowly slowly they blend into the coffee and change its properties. They lose their individuality and become part of the coffee.

Life, and art are like the milk and syrup, like the blue paint mixing with other elements. The key is how do we maintain that wonderful aesthetic moment when they are still both unique and individual. For example, why does the milk become part of the coffee and not the coffee becomes part of the milk? Why is it called coffee with cream and not cream with coffee?

The key is not to let the element of the coffee, or the blue water, overtake the elements of the clear water and the milk and syrup. The question becomes, how to maintain the aesthetic moments, the individuality, the beautiful ethics associated with uniqueness, genuineness, in a thing in itself, in an artwork and in life.

The key is that you have to always remember that you are unique and individual and you don’t need to have your coffee become the same kool-aid that you drink with everyone else.

I am not saying there should never be group thinking. Group thinking is important when it comes to the essential governance for a culture to survive, but groups should always be thought of as filled with unique individuals and not as individuals who all think alike. The group is technical color not grey.

Art today seems to be part of group thinking even with all of its correct speech and recognition of how different cultures think of art and how it is produced. The problem becomes when these groups are all grey and not technical colored.

Featured image: Plums

March 4, 2021

Object Culture Part XIII

Freedom – Choices We Make

“Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty I am free at last.” Martin Luther King

The concept of freedom is part of my code of ethics. It is difficult to talk about ethics because I think that it’s a personal individual choice, not a group think, collective or part of an object culture thinking choice.

When we judge, “ I don’t like her hair,” or more relevant, “I don’t like that artwork.” We, whether we like it or not, are making an ethical choice. A choice that involves a “yes” or “no” answer or a correction of action, a choice that involves a good or bad evaluation.

What are the principles linked to the choices we are making? Are they ours or are they part of the choices you need to make to be part of a group? Being an artist and developing a style, more often than not, involves being part of a group.

Many of us, as artists, call ourselves different thinkers, creatives. This is our ethical choice as to what makes up a good artist versus a bad artist. Many of us think we are outstanding realistic painters, and we are good at it. After all, many have told us that we are. That is an ethical choice. It makes no difference whether we are good or bad. It is subjective.

Ninety times out of a hundred, ethical choices are personal and subjective. For the most part, only 10% of them are objective. Ask yourself when you judge something as good or bad where did this ethical choice come from? Was it from my personal subjective preference? my personal objective preference, or my group subjective preference? And before you answer that question, ask yourself if you really believe that. Can you respect others who think differently?

If you can answer that question yes, then you know you are on the right path when you make an ethical judgement on something, be it art or another person.

This freedom that comes with that yes answer does not fit in all situations because as I have said before, a group always needs direction and a minimal amount of governance. Like rules of harming another, rules of breaking the rules, what is acceptable and what is not? But, it needs only to be minimal.

When asking yourself if you are free at last you need to be able to answer philosophical questions about 1. Ethics, 2. Reality or metaphysics, 3. How you know things or epistemology and 4. What your politics are – what is the foundation for how you think about the notion, the concept of freedom. Are you an object, part of the object culture of others or of yourself?

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