Late Nights at the Whitney
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On March 26, Youth Insights Artists discussed and created art with one of this semester’s artists in residence, Darren Bader. A Connecticut native who now lives and works in New York, Bader has a piece on view in the 2014 Whitney Biennial exhibition which showcases some of the most recent developments in contemporary American art, as determined by the curators―this year, Stuart Comer, Anthony Elms, and Michelle Grabner.
With Bader, we continued an ongoing discussion among YI Artists about the meaning of art and how context largely affects the success and significance of a piece. Bader explained how an infinite number of factors give life and meaning to objects that we may take for granted. To make this idea more tangible, he grabbed five oranges, displayed them in a certain way, gazed at his creation, rearranged it, removed one, removed a few more, grabbed all of them, and threw them into a random yet organic formation. He discussed the decisions that had to be made when the fruits started disintegrating, such as whether to replace them with new ones or keep them.
As we walked from the Whitney Studio to the elevator, we stopped by Bader’s Biennial work: two cylindrical, transparent donation boxes that read “all donations will go to something” and “all donations will go to nothing.” Bader discussed how his interactive piece was not able to be placed where he wanted it to be, and how his creations usually do not have the artist’s background notes accompanying them.
We went to the second floor of the Biennial to discuss works by Charline von Heyl and Terry Adkins, among others.
Back in the studio, YI Artists split into pairs to make sculptures within a limited time frame. The challenge was to improvise and convert objects in such a way that they took on new meanings. Although the pressure of time seemed daunting, YI Artists were able to create diverse, colorful, and meaningful sculptures. We learned that on its own, an object may not convey an intended message, but by applying thoughtfulness and other objects, its meaning can change.
Our session with Bader not only helped us become more insightful artists but also enhanced the importance of being aware individuals. He helped us understand that even in museums, we should be able to question authority and be critical about the world around us. He told us that we know the world as much as anyone else, and shouldn’t doubt our intuitions about it. What I found most interesting was Bader’s ability to put into words the enlightened knowledge he had about art, even though it may have seemed confusing at times. After our session, I felt a satisfaction knowing that everyone, even myself, was capable of critiquing, making, and understanding art.
By Jejomar, Youth Insights Artist