On Wednesday, October 3rd, we went to see the opera, Turandot, in lieu of having a class. I’d never been to an opera before and I’d also never even been to Lincoln Center, so I was definitely excited to take in all my surroundings. The place was absolutely beautiful and full of life, with people bustling about everywhere.

Once the opera started, the beautiful singing kept me engaged with the story. I was very impressed with all of the actors’ and actresses’ talent. Their voices were amazing. The orchestra played very well, complementing the singing perfectly. I noticed how the highs and lows of the story were accented by the music played by the orchestra. However, as impressed as I was with the singing, I didn’t really like the story itself. It just felt very impractical to me; I know it was written centuries ago, so to have expected it to be something more modern would have been outrageous, but regardless, I found it extremely hard to relate to and I just didn’t really enjoy it.

All in all, however, it was a worthwhile experience. I found the place breathtaking and I truly appreciated the music in the opera. I don’t think I ever expected to be able to say this, but I would definitely like to go back and watch another opera at some point in the future.

Seminar Sept. 19, 2012 – Dr. Liu’s Discussion

During class on September 19th, Dr. Charles Liu came and spoke to us about the art gallery that was on display at CSI. In his discussion, he mentioned how hundreds of years ago, people could potentially master all fields of study. Now, however, it is impossible to do so. If I recall correctly, he said that every 15-20 years or so, the amount of collective knowledge doubles. And so now, there is simply not enough time for one person to study everything in a lifetime. There’s just too much to know. That simple thought stuns me, honestly. This world really is a huge place, and it just continues to grow. I am likely going into business, and so my education will be tailored towards that as I move along in my college career. Others are going to go into different fields and their educations will be tailored towards whatever it is they choose to become. I think it’s a shame that we can’t really learn everything. There are so many fascinating things out there, and there’s just too little time to take them all in. However, it’s not impossible to do more than one thing. I play guitar and sing in my free time, and I’d like to take some music classes to try to enhance my musical knowledge (and hopefully my musical ability), even though I don’t plan on becoming a musician when I’m older. And so, I definitely think that other people can try to study other things on the side as well. There are endless possibilities in this world and while we can’t know everything, we can delve into multiple things at once.

9/12/12 – Edward Hopper’s Style

We opened the class by discussing gaze. I think this came into play later on in the class when discussing Edward Hopper’s style. In terms of painting and photography, gaze is where the subject’s eyes are looking. For example, we see reciprocal gaze when we look at the Mona Lisa. She is staring right at us as we stare at her.

While analyzing Edward Hopper’s paintings, I thought his style was pretty clear. He seemed to create a candid feeling by having his subjects’ gaze directed away from the viewer. In New York Interior, the girl in the painting has her back turned to us, so we don’t even see her face. In Night Shadows, we view a man from above as he is walking away. In East Side Interior, the woman is looking out her window. Self Portrait shows him looking slightly away from the viewer, continuing the trend. In our last class, we analyzed Hopper’s Nighthawks, and in it, none of the subjects had their gaze directed at us.

So in my opinion, Hopper’s style is clear. He liked to paint his pictures in a candid way. I think it created more realism, as it depicts his subjects in more life-like situations. It’s like we, the viewers, are getting a sneak peek into their everyday lives.

Monday 9/10/12 – Mona Lisa & Nighthawks

During Monday’s class, we discussed Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. While analyzing the Mona Lisa, we paid a good amount of attention to the background of the painting. Now, I’d seen the painting hundreds of times before, but I don’t think I’d ever really taken the time to really notice what was going on in the background. All I’d ever paid attention to was Mona Lisa herself, as she is the subject of the painting.  Admittedly, I’m no artist, and I’ve always known that it takes talent to be able to draw or paint something well, but at first glance, the Mona Lisa just seems so simple. However, after really looking at the background of the painting, I started to truly appreciate the masterful work Da Vinci did. It’s so intricate; it actually made me think. What’s back there? A few things were pointed out in class: there is a bridge on the right side and there is a forest along the river behind her. It seems like there may be an island behind her. But for all the intricacies and complexities of the background, Da Vinci seems to have left the foreground, Mona Lisa herself, rather simple. And in many ways, she is. Her clothing is dark, not a swirl of colors like the top half of the painting seems to be. Her hair seems neat and orderly. But the real intrigue of this painting, I think, is the expression she’s wearing. I can’t really tell what that expression is. Her mouth is slightly curved upwards, giving the impression of a smile. So is she amused? One might think so, but then after looking at her eyes, it becomes a mystery. She looks rather serious, if you cut off the bottom half of her face.

We moved on to Nighthawks after analyzing the Mona Lisa, and once again, we were greeted with a simple picture. But after thinking about it, there is even more mystery. Why is the street so empty? Who are these people and where are they coming from? Why is there one man sitting alone and are the man and woman who are together in a relationship or not? So many questions are raised right at the first glance. One thought I had about this painting had to do with the title – Nighthawks. If you look closely, you see that the man who is alone is seemingly staring at the “couple” who are sitting at the bar. Is he a nighthawk? Maybe the message Hopper was trying to get across was that at night, we are constantly being watched by “nighthawks.”

What I really took away from the class was that art can really make you think. Something may seem simple at first glance, but if you really take the time to truly analyze art, you may find complex things – things that provoke thought.