For our outside arts event, Abraham, Adam, Katherine, Melissa, Sandy, and I visited the Irish Hunger Memorial, near the World Trade Center in Manhattan. Although we originally planned to visit the museum of feelings (which had a line of approximately an hour and a half), this particular memorial served as an excellent historical substitute.
The Irish Hunger Memorial had a very unique architectural design. The majority of it appeared to be a floating landscape. After researching the location, I found out that it contained soil, stones, and vegetation brought from the west coast of Ireland. Underneath the landscape was some sort of marble wall that had many different quotes about the Irish Potato Famine and world hunger in general. The quotes were illuminated in the night sky by distinct black and white banding patterns. Finally, at the top of the memorial one could enjoy a breath-taking view of the Hudson River.
The Irish Hunger Memorial also had a very poignant and emotional aspect to it, just like the 9/11 memorial. Although not as popular as the 9/11 memorial (probably partially attributed to the fact that we went at around 6 p.m. when it was dark out), one could sense the sorrow that the structure evoked reminding everyone of the horrible famine that occurred between 1845 and 1852.
Snapshot day at the New York Historical Society was an awesome experience. It was exciting to see all of the photos taken by my peers presented at the museum. Our photos had become a part of the art. The curators did a great job of exhibiting the various photos and organizing them based on the approximate time they were taken. I liked the creative idea of choosing random times of the day, like 7:46 P.M., rather than exact times like 10 A.M. Finally, the question activity helped us to think about the meaning behind a particular photo, not necessarily our own. I happened to pick my own photo and answered the question by saying that my photo expressed that New Yorkers care about one another.
The photo that I chose to submit for the exhibit was the one that I took on our trip to the 9/11 memorial. I selected this particular photo for numerous reasons. Firstly, this honoring monument has an aesthetic beauty to it. The idea of a waterfall within another waterfall intrigued me. Also, the sheer size of the design was somewhat intimidating: an acre for each waterfall set within the footprints of the Twin Towers. Another important reason why I chose this photo was the overwhelming and deep emotion that I felt standing there watching the memorial. Of all the trips we’ve taken this year, I believe this one had the greatest emotional component to it. The memorial meant so much to people of many unique backgrounds. It acted as a unifying factor to bring New Yorkers closer together.
For someone who listens to almost exclusively electronic and rock music, surprisingly, I very much enjoyed the Brooklyn College Big Band’s performance of Latin Jazz. One aspect of this music that particularly intrigued me was the synchronization of all of the instruments. Throughout the entire performance, each and every one of the instruments seemed to me to perform as one. Even during the solo improvisations it seemed that everyone was in impeccable harmony. While one player improvised their piece, the other instruments would back him/her up with a smooth undertone, adapting to the intricacies of the improvisation.
I could not help but watch the audience’s reaction throughout the performance. Every time I looked around I would see people dancing in their seats, snapping their fingers, or humming to the beat. Jazz seems to have an extraordinary emotional effect on people. I found myself smiling throughout the entirety of the performance.
Arturo O’Farril’s passionate and talented performance was amazing. He was constantly trying to get his musicians motivated and excited (and it worked extremely well!). I thought it was generous of Mr. O’Farril to let one of his friends conduct a piece that he composed. Furthermore, I was astonished by the new conductor’s ability to coordinate the group with no practice beforehand. Not only were the musicians improvising, but so was the conductor himself!
One final aspect of the performance that grabbed my attention was the setting. I enjoyed having a smaller audience seated close to musicians, as opposed to the other performances, such as the ballet, where we were a part of a huge audience seated very far from the performers. This up close and personal experience really allowed me to see the difficulty of playing such complex musical pieces as well as the dedication and fervor that the musicians played with.
Of the three performances our class has seen so far, “Henry IV,” by William Shakespeare, was easily my favorite. I think the most important thing about these pieces, is the presentation of the story. The performer’s acting, the setting, and the innovative use of the props grabbed my attention and successfully communicated the riveting story.
My favorite actress in the play, by far, was Jane Anouka, who played Sir Harry (Hotspur) Percy. Normally in literature and live performances, including plays, movies, and TV shows, I favor the protagonist over the antagonist. I have not been able to give up the mentality of that good will always triumph over evil. However, in this play, the adversary that tries to kill his father, King Henry IV, in an attempt to take control, was the most brilliant in my eyes. In addition to the character’s nature in Shakespeare’s play, the sheer passion that the actress presented us with was awe-inspiring. I was amazed how the actress was able to argue fervently with other characters and perform athletically at the same time without showing even the faintest appearance of exhaustion.
Initially, I was somewhat disappointed with the informality of the play using a DJ for music and children’s toys as props. My perception changed completely after the first few minutes. These two aspects were brilliantly intertwined into the play as a source of comedic effect. Never did I imagine myself laughing at a performance of one of Shakespeare’s renowned plays. Furthermore, when the play took on a serious tone, I found myself too distracted by the intense plot and acting, to notice the simple props.
I was also intrigued by the “play within a play” concept prevalent in several scenes throughout the performance. It added a unique twist to the play, where the viewer is forced to consider multiple settings, rather than just watching the piece exactly as it was written by Shakespeare. It allowed people who are not as familiar and comfortable with of Shakespeare to appreciate the play in a different way.
Even despite the lack of an intermission for a two hour and fifteen minutes performance, I have no complaints! I had a remarkable experience.
I had a really exciting time at the performance of Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera theatre last Thursday. This performance appealed to me more than the ballet because of its’ compelling story. As we discussed in class, there are different ways of delivering a story to the audience. I think that the opera’s singing was able to get the message of the story across more effectively than the dancing in the ballet. Actual words, for me, are a key element in conveying the plot. For the most part, I was able to follow and understand what was going on, where as in the ballet I would find myself getting lost at times in the complexity of the dance moves.
My favorite part of the opera was during act II, where Scarpia, the chief of secret police, interrogates Cavaradossi, the painter. I was amazed at Cavaradossi’s defiant attitude toward Scarpia. Despite all of the torture and verbal harassment, Cavaradossi refuses to give up the location where his friend, Angelotti, an escaped political prisoner, is hiding. This audacity and bravery proves how reliable and loyal a friend Cavaradossi is.
The only part of the opera that I disliked was the length of the intermissions. The intermissions ranged from 30 to 40 minutes. Small breaks in between acts are important for me so that I do not lose interest in the performance. However, I do not think the intermissions should be as long if not almost as long as the acts themselves. Not only does it make the show unnecessarily long, but it also makes it difficult for people in audience to remember what happened in the previous act when the intermission ends.
All in all, I enjoyed the experience very much.
I had a much more enjoyable experience at Thursday night’s ballet than I thought I would. I have never been a big fan of dance, particularly ballet, which was why I was very much surprised that there were certain parts and aspects that I enjoyed.
The third part, The Green Table, was my favorite. I liked this part so much because it focused on a story. The other parts seemed to focus around the music and coordination with other ballet dancers to perform difficult techniques. After watching the ballet and doing a little research I came to understand The Green Table revolved around the idea that Death inevitably becomes everyone’s partner, and convinces them to dance on the same terms by which they lived their lives. Story in dance for me is very important because it creates a sense of purpose and understanding. For example, for me, it was difficult to identify a story line in the first part, The Brahms-Haydn Variations. The lack of a clear story made it challenging for me to understand what was going on.
I also enjoyed the second part, Monotones I and II, because I feel that it best connected with the music. Each individual step and dance move would coordinate to some sound or beat of the music. I found this synchronization between the ballet dancers and orchestra fascinating.
The first part, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, of the performance, however, was my least favorite. I found that the huge number of ballet dancers performing on stage, all at the same time made it tough to keep track of what was going on. Furthermore, it was virtually impossible to use the binoculars during this part without missing something that was going on the other parts of the stage. Nevertheless, I did appreciate the complexity of the dances moves and cooperation of the dancers throughout this part.
My favorite photo that I took on the High Line was that of the My Mom Drinks Pepsi sculpture. I like this photo so much because it resembles a geometric pattern. Math has always been one of my favorite subjects. So, when I saw this sculpture all I could think of was the unique squares and rectangles and shapes within shapes that were formed when coke cans are put together alongside one another. I also enjoyed the simplicity of the sculpture: a series of coke cans placed to form a specific shape. The sculpture reminded me of another sculpture made of soup cans that I saw on my trip to Montreal in the Museum of Contemporary Art.
My experience at the Brooklyn museum was much more exciting than I thought it would be. I was able to meet new people from Hunter College and old high school friends from Queens College that became part of my group. All of us truly enjoyed the exhibits. The exhibits that particularly fascinated me were The Mummy Chamber, The Rise of the Sneaker Culture, and American Identities: A New Look.
The Mummy Chamber contained many precious relics from the Ancient Egyptian time period. I was amazed how well preserved the mummies and sarcophagi were. The sheer volume of the collection surprised me as well. In fact, according to the Brooklyn Museum website their collection contains more than 170 objects that “explore the complex rituals related to the practice of mummification and the Egyptian belief that the body must be preserved in order to ensure eternal life.”
Prior to visiting the Brooklyn Museum, I never thought that sneakers could be considered art, unlike my younger brother. As far as I was concerned, they were something you put on to protect your feet and keep them comfortable. It turns out that many see them as an “urban icon.” The exhibit explored the social history, technical innovations, fashion trends, and marketing campaigns of sneakers over the past two centuries.
My favorite exhibit was the American Identities: A New Look. I’ve always been a huge fan of American History. The art, however, allowed me to visualize it. My group discussed two paintings from this section: George Washington by Gilbert Stuart and Fallen Bierstadt by Valerie Hegarty. What I liked the most about these two paintings, and the American art section in general, was that there many small details that provide hints to the time period that the painting depicts, although, they could be interpreted in many different ways. For instance, the rainbow in the background of the painting of George Washington may represent a symbol of peace after revolution and the prosperous beginnings for America.
Here are some of the pictures that I took with my phone: