We’ve been conditioned to have certain expectations when visiting museums, often looking to the walls for explanation about the items on display. As a bit of an info junkie, I’m usually perfectly content to read this as part of the exhibit, while the contrarian inside complains that it’s too prescriptive.
Every once in a while, you find an exhibit that isn’t so instructive, instead simply allowing the display to stand alone. “Life’s Link,” an installation by artist Fred Wilson, at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Museum of Art, assembles pieces from the Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art and other historical materials from Savannah. There was no introduction to the exhibition aside from the title, and I quickly found that this was going to take some time to view and interpret. Photographs of Frederick Douglass’ nephew and letters between them and a Romare Bearden painting quickly set the mood for an exploration of African American art and history. Prints, paintings and sculptures were interspersed with old letters and newspaper clippings advertising runaway slaves. I recognized some names from History and English classes, while others were totally unfamiliar. It was thought provoking to say the least, so I would say Wilson achieved his objective:
The works are not about answers. They are about questions, and making you want to know more. Sometimes looking at documents in different way is like looking at art and how does that affect you? Not specifically necessarily understanding the topic, but what leads you to more thoughts.
I’m en route to Savannah and reading up on the art scene. (Really looking forward to the food as well!)
Interesting comments about the artistic process and purpose from a SCAD professor and multimedia artist:
Explosive Art « The South Magazine http://ww2.thesouthmag.com/dailies/2011/explosive-art/