I live in Tribeca and go to the Bronx High School of Science. I am interested in the social sciences, as well as art history and conservation. After taking a class in ethnography at the American Museum of Natural History, I became interested in culture, how identities are created and changed, and the impact of identities, both collective and individual, on history and the world. Art is perhaps the most idiosyncratic expression of identity and it is indelibly linked to a time and place, and as such, a culture. I have found that art can be understood satisfyingly on both micro and macro levels; it exists as movements and groups, and yet is propelled by individuals. So for me, art is a small part of culture.
At the American Museum of Natural History I learned about anthropology and learned to see in one way. From the Youth Insights Writers program I learned to see in a different way. At the Museum of Natural History I was taught to interpret material culture and reflexively examine the impact of cultural change on the politicization of museums. This understanding, that everything has meaning beyond its surface, informs my thinking process. In the quiet halls of the Frick, Rika Burnham helped me hone another way of seeing. She taught me how to sit still and appreciate the painted folds of a dress, or the light through a window. I learned how a painting can be like a river, and why Bellini was ahead of his time. Thus informed by these varied, but nonetheless convergent approaches to seeing, today I am an amalgamation of them all.
The world is filled with art and culture, but instead of being passive receivers of this, society must break free. People should forget what they are told and make up their own minds. So museum goers and casual art lovers everywhere, throw off the shackles of institutionally approved intellectual oppression! Be a contrarian! Embrace the critical discourse! Refuse to read museum labels and don’t listen to headsets. Instead, take a good long look at something until you can see. In his Ars Poetica, the great Roman lyric poet Horace said, “ut pictura poesis” or “as is poetry, so is the image.” I translate “picture” as image instead of painting, because I believe Horace meant to say that everything around us has poetry. Hence, it is up to us to go out and find it.
Lately I’ve found poetry in Duckie Dale (Pretty in Pink), Chloe Sevigny, Eric B & Rakim, the operas of John Adams, Pablo Picasso’s musketeers, J.M.W. Turner’s seascapes, Rembrandt van Rijn’s self-portraits, the wispy trees of Emile Corot’s landscapes, Mrs Dalloway, Alex Katz’s deadpan and earnest portraiture, David Bowie, the Byzantine theotokos, Edouard Manet’s toreadors, Zooey Glass, Velazquez’s portrait of King Philip IV, and a certain black and white Richard Avedon photograph of a young Bob Dylan standing outside of Central Park in the rain.