What We Feel and What We Mean
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Brooklyn Museum

The Dinner Party for me was more of a satire than a visual art form. Judy Chicago’s work lampoons what one may guess is her interpretation of the male patriarchy. Religion is parodied with the medieval banners that have texts with a large She. The triangular and suggestive shapes that abound are there to contrast with traditional monuments that can consist of an (arguably phallic) pillar (e.g. The Washington Monument), the stern clothed or sexless unclothed romantic figures (e.g. Statue of Liberty, Arc de Triomphe), or massive landmarks (Trafalgar Square). The triangle formed by the table challenges traditional hierarchy because there is not real head (the medieval atmosphere also seems to reference King Arthur’s Round Table). The setting itself mocks custom, for indeed a Dinner Party is not the place of commemoration or rallying but more of a private victory toast. I did not know most of the women, according to the Brooklyn Museum’s website, “commemorat[ed]” in the piece, which did not help me gain any cathartic feeling that it seems I was supposed to get. For me the Dinner Party was mostly a good laugh.

An artwork I found more interesting (or at least aesthetically appealing) but equally iconoclastic was Kehinde Wiley’s Go. It is a painting that features young black men falling through the sky. Some of them have strange halos over their heads. The painting is on the ceiling, directly above the viewer. Directly under it are some comfortable couches. There are also similar pieces on the walls around. The general technique of the artwork (realism) as well as its setting have more traditional feel – it seems out of the Sistine Chapel. However, the actual subject of the artwork contrasts a great deal with customary depictions of heaven, saints, and holiness. This gave the viewer an uncanny experience. Yet, unlike the Judy Chicago’s piece, this one could be looked at and enjoyed even without its newness context. This makes it truly great.

Another great exhibit was the juxtaposed recreations of a traditional New England home and a traditional Southern home. I find that there is a tinge of hypocrisy the way we Northerners (that is, my classmates that were with me except Michael), see the Southern home is something by far more attractive, yet we probably have more negative stereotypes attached to the South than any other part of the country.


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