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Monday, January 21, 2019

The 2018 Carnegie International at Carnegie Museum of Art

In January, a friend and I decided to visit the Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art. This special exhibit has been running for 57 years - yes, just like the number of spices in Heinz Ketchup and the exit for Pittsburgh on the PA Turnpike.

I love doodling and creating art projects here and there, but I'm not an artist. And sometimes I struggle to understand modern art. I think, because I'm not really familiar with current trends in art, it's hard for me to place modern art in context and therefore understand how the artist is engaging in conversations or trying to change conversations. I could be over-thinking this! But I try, nevertheless, to appreciate skill, creativity, and beauty. I'm also very honest about what I like and what speaks to me, regardless of if I understand the context.

So here are some the pieces I loved at the Carnegie.

This video by Rachel Rose featured collage art, something I love. In the guide it's called "cozy carpet, giant speakers, and a lonely creature." I'm not sure what the message was, but I loved watching the collages being built in the video.

Dayanita Singh created "pillars of pictures of archives" and I enjoyed the storage devices depicting archives and storage. I used to work at the National Archives and I loved knowing our knowledge was being saved. This photo is of a book wrapped in fabric, I think. The design of the knot reminded me of running legs. 

While looking at another piece that I didn't love, I thought I smelled coffee. I was right. In the next room, "Art Labor with Joan Jonas" featured Vietnamese coffee, kites, and hammocks. The French brought coffee to Vietnam. Now the Vietnamese drink strong espresso coffee with a lot of sweetened condensed milk. These sculptures are coated in coffee beans and are meant to bring awareness to the negative impact of coffee plantations on ethnic minorities in Vietnam. 

Next to the coffee room was a giant glass house surrounded by neon designs. I loved this neon flower box. The devil faced dude doing erotic dances with a giant floppy pencil on the video playing inside the house made me laugh. 

This giant piece of art is not in the Carnegie International, but it's a lovely piece and I loved the Art Deco style and the representation of mythological figures. 

I love this painting of Cape Cod, by Edward Hopper. I'm totally fine with my love of realism! 

The exhibit that really touched me emotionally was "Fruit and Other Things" by Lenka Clayton and Jon Rubin. (I learned from WESA that Jon Rubin has done a lot of very cool art in Pittsburgh.) This piece employs artists from Pittsburgh to paint the titles of the over 10,000 pieces rejected from all the previous Carnegie International exhibitions. Watching artists paint these titles, seeing the titles displayed on the wall, and knowing that visitors can take a painted title home, moved me to tears. As a writer, I get a lot of rejections. A rejection isn't the end of the world, but it's tough. It was so powerful to see these titles resurrected and have a little breath of life given back to their dream if only for a moment. 

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