Vik Muniz, Sarah Bernhardt, from Rebus, 2010
It was a dreary day out; rain was promised, but took a long time in arriving. My husband dropped me off at work in the morning and took my car to fill it up with gas and go grocery shopping, and I planned to catch the bus home.
I thought I'd like to add some unanticipated fun to my day, so I decided to fit in a quick visit to the Palmer Museum, Penn State's free-admission, on-campus art museum, between my afternoon buses. They have a special glass exhibit running through the end of April, and I am a sucker for all things bright and shiny and sparkly, so I decided to go have a look.
I've featured the Palmer Museum just a few times on these pages. The exterior of the building was the backdrop for the line of people in the January 2012 blip, Waiting in Line to Pay Their Respects to Joe. The most recent glass exhibit in August 2015 was the subject of Luminous Allure, which was also the name of that exhibit. And in December 2016, I introduced you to its marvelous gift shop, one of our lovely campus's best-kept secrets.
On this day, I enjoyed the glass exhibit, and I took many pictures. But then I wandered into another section of the second floor and stumbled upon a number of works from the museum's permanant collection, including this one: Vik Muniz's Digital C-Print of Sarah Bernhardt.
I remember seeing this work before, and thinking it was neat and colorful, but I don't think I ever stood close to it before. What did I discover? It is a photograph of an image constructed entirely from toys!
I've included a closer view of her face in the extras. Do you see the tiny figures above her eyes that serve as her eyebrows? And the figures parading along her hairline? And the bunny above her one eyebrow? You may see more details from this image at a blog posting I discovered online.
Muniz is a Brazilian artist and photographer who was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1961. He is famous for using nontraditional materials (such as chocolate syrup, or toys, or garbage) to create works of art, which he then photographs. You may see more of his works at this artnet website.
So that is the information about the Art; now, a little bit about my personal philosophy of life. One of the things I try to do in my daily life is to introduce the element of delight wherever possible, even if only in little tiny doses.
I was born a rather optimistic and fun-loving person, and my oldest sister has been a major force in my life who has encouraged me to try new or even strange things and have fun wherever possible, just for the sake of it! And so I have been this way for all of my life: a fun-seeker. But I work hard, too: I am one who Gets Things Done, a lifelong over-achiever.
In the 1990s, when I was working full-time in a very demanding job as a unit supervisor at Penn State, while also attending graduate school, my days were long; they began early and ended late. I remember getting up at 6 each morning and running out the door by 7 am or so. I'd stay at work late, well into the dark hours, doing budgets, preparing staff performance reviews, writing papers and dropping them off after 11 pm at Carnegie Building.
Sometimes the only "fun" I had was when I quite consciously CHOSE to imbed 15- or 20-minute blocks of it here and there. And I gave myself full permission during that time to Not Think About Anything Else, But Just Be Happy In the Now: 15 minutes with a magazine; a 20-minute walk among trees.
This is a pattern that I follow now for my little photo shoots, too (which most often occur in the mornings, before work). Except that this day, it was in late afternoon: a walk among ART! Yowza, it made my imagination sing! I looked at things in a new way; it gave me new ideas. It made me feel free!
So here is my recommendation: Think up the funnest and most amazing and unusual thing you can think up. (OK, I'm not talking illegal, immoral, or fattening here. All right, maybe fattening, but only on occasion . . .)
And then: DO IT! You don't need anybody else's permission! Go walk in the woods. Go see some art, if it so pleases you. Even if only for 15 minutes, GO! You will thank me for it . . . No, not just that; you will thank yourself.
The song to accompany this wonderful image is about how I feel about art. It's by the Who, from their famous rock opera Tommy: "See Me, Feel Me," live at Woodstock.