Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Day at the Dennos Museum

Hello, everyone! 

I am going to make a strong effort to limit myself in photographs for this post. Every week (schedule allowing), I volunteer in the Collections area of the Dennos Museum. This allows me to utilize my History of Art degree in Traverse City and also be up-close-and-personal with the artwork. I love that I have this opportunity, and it has given me the chance to fully embrace the gem of an art museum that we have here in TC. Plus, it allows me to visit the museum after-hours to snap some great photos!

Currently, the Dennos has a fantastic triple play of exhibits. I'll share a few of my favorite pieces and details from each of them. 

When you first walk into the atrium, bright colorful "wings" hang from the ceiling. These unique and totally individualized pieces are the works of Rufus Snoddy, and are a part of his "Wings of Icarus" exhibit.

At first, I was more taken in by the effect of having all these pieces hanging from the ceiling, because it's a different way to display a sculpture court: hang the pieces above instead of having something on the ground. I wasn't totally into the pieces themselves until I started looking at them one by one instead of all together. Snoddy uses all different kinds of materials, color schemes, and themes. As wonderful as they are to see all together, the works stand well on their own, too.

The largest gallery room is filled with contemporary Japanese Bamboo art. I was stunned by these works and the incredible intricacy, eye for detail, and mechanics that went into creating all these pieces. They were all true works of science, math, and art. It's hard for me to imagine the time and patience these artists devote to their work. Not all the pieces are repetitive or symmetrical; there are some abstract pieces, too, but just as thoroughly planned and executed based on the detail put into each piece.

I took a lot of detailed shots of the bamboo pieces, because when standing close to these works the true craftsmanship and complexity of each work really showed. Even just mapping these pieces out logistically and systematically before working on them must take forever! 

My favorite of all the current exhibits are the works of Larry Cressman. Aside from the fact that Cressman is a professor at my alma mater (I wish I could've met him!), I positively love the delicacy, intimacy, and tangibility of his pieces.

Cressman challenges the idea of the line as a stagnant thing on a piece of paper, and the validity (or lack thereof) of the line in nature (since we often thing of lines as something that is drawn, man-made, or a part of an unnatural construction or shape like a square). Working with pins, Cressman suspends his works away from the gallery wall and his beautiful artwork seems to float in space. It is a surreal experience to stand in front of his work and appreciate the fragility of each piece and the love that Cressman put into installing each piece on the gallery walls. 

I love that Cressman uses natural elements like stems and twigs to showcase the lines in nature, but brought into a gallery meant to display man-made artwork (typically mounted on the walls). The way Cressman's pieces hover in midair makes them feel ethereal, as if they are part of an entirely different dimension. I got lost trying to following the lines of each work as the elements crisscrossed and overlapped one another. The shadows and light of the room play into each piece, too, which creates another set of lines in each piece.

If you'd like to check out any of these works, I recommend doing it this weekend, because it is the last time the Cressman and Japanese bamboo artwork will be on display. There will be a fantastic new exhibit coming up in June, but more on that later...go check these out if you're interested!

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