Expanding Frames of Reference 9/19

Before class on Wednesday, I knew that this seminar class would be about going to see an art exhibit, which is not one of my favorite things to do. However, after Professor Liu came to class to talk about the art exhibit, my opinion changed. I am like him in the sense that I am very interested in science. So when he gave us an introduction to the thought process behind Johann Jakob Scheuchzer when he made his paintings, I became interested in the art exhibit because of my interest in science. It seemed very unique for an artist to unify scientific thought with art and religion. These three concepts are typically unrelated. Science and religion have often clashed because of different theories behind how the universe began. It was interesting to see that there wasn’t a schism in this artists mind, to see how he united art, science and religion in this exhibit.


One particular painting stood out to me in this exhibit, and I think its safe to assume why it made it onto the cover of the information booklet. Scheuchzer’s Plate CCCLXXXI of Judges 14, verse 8, shows his unique intertwining of religion and scientific knowledge. Samson is bent over examining the skeleton of a lion. It shows Scheuchzer’s love of anatomy and fossils because of how Samson is examining the skeleton, and the picture of the completed skeleton above the frame. I also like how Scheuchzer has many details in all of his frames. He unites all of his paintings with his frames. For this painting he put bones on the sides of the frame. In his Plate CCCLXXX of Judges 14, verses 5 and 6, he has the front half of a lion on both sides of the frame, and Greek coins depicting Hercules fighting the Nemean lion. This painting is also very interesting because it combines the story of Samson and Hercules. Normally, Greek mythology and biblical stories are not intertwined in today’s society.

Stephanie Solanki, 9/19/12

Dr. Kahan started the class by showing us a few clips of the movie “The Girl with the Pearl Earring.” The clips she showed us had to do with the “Aha” moment we all had in pervious class sessions when looking at art. I noticed after seeing the girl’s reaction that once a person “sees” a work of art, or sees what they think the artist sees in the work, he or she begins to look at all art differently. As a musician, I have had this same experience. I first learned guitar in a classical way, and I did not expose myself to chords at all. However, after learning a few, I began to explore different styles of playing guitar, and I realized how beautifully each style sounded. I think it’s important to really give each work of art a chance, a fair chance, and to see it the way the artist would have seen it. This gives the work a whole new dimension and depth that an spectator might have missed.

Dr. Liu’s talk left a great impression on me. I also am I person very interested in science, like him. For as long as I have been in school, I have loved science class and learning about all things science. I found that after becoming involved in music and expanding my horizons in the artistic field, I began to see everything differently, even science. I began to see the beauty in science rather than just learning about it. I think that being fluent in the arts and science and being involved in culture makes me a better person.

Frame of Reference (9/19/12)

Back in my junior year of high school I was convinced to take a CUNY Business Communications course by my guidance counselor.  The class was scheduled on saturday mornings and the sheer idea of getting up six days a week for school was depressing.  Thankfully, the class was enjoyable; the professor welcomed comic relief from the students and the work was not overwhelming.

It has been some time since I finished that course but no matter what I still remember learning about one topic, Frame of Reference.  No matter what I do, where I go, who I meet, the phrase always stumbles back in my life, just like it did in Seminar.  Not only did the dean of Macaulay use the phrase but the book given out in the gallery was subtitled, Frames of Reference.

A frame of reference is the way a person perceives something.  This is what stuck with me when I was in the gallery or looking at the artwork in the books given to us.  After the initial shock caused by the detail in the prints wore off, I thought about the frame of reference of those who would gaze at this art hundreds of years ago compared to my generation.

My assumption might be wrong but I think it is safe to say that mankind is less secular now than the time the art was initially created.  Back then, the average viewers of this artwork would have had an easier time building a connection between this art and their lives, particularly with their religious views and teachings.  Nowadays, I assume that a typical person would merely appreciate the artwork’s attention to detail and shrug it off once the art is out of sight.

I might be making too much of an assumption, but I see the modern generation as a secular one.  However, this is just coming from my frame of reference.

Art Exhibit – 9/19

In class on Wednesday, we further discussed the idea of style in conjunction to “Ways of Seeing.” Early on in the class, we watched various YouTube clips of “The Girl with the Pearl Earrings.” I truly think that this was a great movie to watch, specifically at this time, because it draws a very close connection to John Berger’s book, “Ways of Seeing.” It relates to the notion that there isn’t exactly one-way to see something or someone, but rather numerous.  Therefore, it all depends on the seer’s conceptual belief or perception about the particular subject. After that was discussed, we further conversed about Edward Hopper’s idea of style.  I still, wholeheartedly, think that his style represents a universal nature. In other words, his painting upheld validity not only in the past, but in present day as well. After the class gave their input concerning what they believe was Mr. Hopper’s style, Dr. Liu walked into class and gave us a concise overview of what to expect at today’s Art Exhibit, as well as the deeper meaning as to why these various pieces were chosen. Also, he explained that just because someone is for example a chemist, they could at the same time enjoy art, music, etc. We, as human beings, aren’t restricted or confined to one particular field of study. Finally, Dr. Liu led the class to the Art Exhibit. This very gallery was composed of the works by, Johann Jakob Scheuchzer. He depicted art, science, and religion in its own light, but didn’t forget to draw a conclusion and depict how each of these three focal points are in fact related and relevant to one another. To be honest, going into this Art Gallery, I was a little hesitant as what to expect and how it would be presented. However, as I walked around, examining each of the artworks closely, I formulated a great connection that each painting embodied. I think that it was Johann Jakob Scheuchzer’s goal all along, and he did a phenomenal job.  I have to say, I did in fact develop a favorite out of all of the various artworks and it happened to be the first one. First off, I was greatly mesmerized at the engraved frame around the image. It doesn’t merely set the scene and tone, but more importantly, expand on the biblical connections between the frame and picturesque image. I think it depicted the dominance of the sun as it relates to human life and the world of nature. Everything painted was balanced beautifully, and the brush strokes used gave me a warm and conceptual feeling. All and all, this Seminar class was definitely an eye opener, and I am starting to make associations between art, religion, and science that I have never before.

Today, before we embarked to the gallery, Professor Liu visited our class to explain a little bit of what we were going to view. He explained what his purpose in the gallery was, since he is a professor of astronomy, not art. He explained that Johann Jakob Scheuchzer was a person who enjoyed both science and art, which nowadays isn’t very common. Professor Liu started the discussion by asking us if we think it is possible to enjoy both the sciences and the arts. I know, however uncommon it might be, that it is possible and many people do enjoy both. I think it’s a common misconception that people can’t enjoy both because of what many of us have been told from a younger age.
I remember being in grammar school and being told that if you enjoy math, you mostly use the left side of your brain, and if you enjoy the arts, you mostly use the right side of your brain. This separation makes children feel that you can only be good at, or find pleasure in, one or the other but not both. Even as people grow up and go into their specific fields of study, many adults might not enjoy, and might even fear, a subject that they aren’t trained in or comfortable with. Professor Liu also made another good point by saying that everything we do has both an artistic and scientific component; both are part of our lives. He further explained this by using a metaphor, a piano. The notes and sounds we hear are the art aspect of a piano. The meter and the mechanics of the piano are the scientific aspect.
I think many great things can happen when people embrace both the sciences and the arts. We can see this in Scheuchzer’s artwork. Scheuchzer paints Biblical scenes and incorporates science as well. In his boarders, which often become the painting itself, he often shows the scientific part of various Bible verses. In his painting of the mustard seed, the mustard plant’s roots are in the boarders but, the leaves because part of the main picture. Scheuchzer is also not afraid to paint some anatomical things like animal bones. I often saw that a lot of his paintings have animals in them, whether a main part of the picture or in the boarder. Some of his paintings have a globe on them, which incorporates geography, another science. Scheuchzer is a prime example that one can enjoy science and art.

– Amber G

Style / Art Exhibit: 9/19/12

Today in Seminar we continued to discuss the importance of style in an author’s work and the importance of the different “ways of seeing” when analyzing artwork.  I have to admit, this has been not only an informative and eye – opening class for me so far, but it has been interesting and new, and I enjoy going to class.

We first viewed some clips of “The Girl with the Pearl Earrings”, during which we saw on screen what has been happening for most of us in our Seminar class.  One of the main characters, a young girl who befriends an artist, begins to see the world in a new light, and realizes that not everything is black and white, that there are multiple ways of seeing things, it all depends on a person’s own perception.  From that, we continued our discussion from last week regarding the style of Edward Hopper.  After hearing other people’s opinions, I think that Hopper has a very interesting way of portraying different scenes of American life.  He seems to take real objects and real instances and transform them to be something menacing and dark, and in conjunction with my own idea, realistic.

This leads me into my thought for the day after sitting in Seminar.  I truly enjoy learning and analyzing different styles of art.  I think it is an interesting and fun experience to see things through someone else’s eyes.  When we see a work of art, we are seeing what the artist created through that artist’s eyes, his or her perception of the world.  Whether we like it, dislike it, find it menacing or light – hearted, it is an escape from our own reality and our sometimes narrow ways of seeing things ourselves.

After our discussion, we listened to a lecture by Dr. Charles Liu, who, in so many words, passed on the wisdom that while people usually dedicate their lives to studying a particular field or subject, that does not mean that they have to only study and enjoy that one subject.  A person can learn about, take interest in, and excel in many different areas of life, areas that sometimes overlap or complement each other.  We then saw Dr. Liu’s words put into reality at the Art Exhibit in the Performing Arts building.  It was a collection of paintings by Johann Jakob Scheuchzer.  This man seemed to take religion and science, and their two different yet not – so – different ideas and combine them in his paintings in order to get his point across.  My favorite of his paintings was #3 in the gallery, which depicted the power of the sun.  You never really think of the sun as being so powerful and yet, to stop and truly reflect, you find that there are all sorts of natural powers that are not obvious, but that exist in our world.

It seems that today’s class wrapped up our discussion of different “ways of seeing” when analyzing art.  I know I have definitely learned much from this experience, and I can only hope to use this experience in order to keep an open mind about the world around me.