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Archive for the ‘Special Exhibits’ Category

This post comes to us from Sarah Schaller, Curatorial Intern.

Installation artist Soo Sunny Park has always been intrigued by the space between the physical and imaginary worlds. Her work consistently explores that liminal, or in-between, space with her use of light and shadow. The New Britain Museum of American Art is excited to exhibit her new installation Boundary Conditions in the LeWitt staircase.

sunny-blog

Soo Sunny Park’s Boundary Conditions , 2013-2014. Stainless steel, Plexiglass, paint. Commissioned through the Alice Osborne Bristol Fund. Photo by Nick Artymiak.

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This post is brought to you by Anna Rogulina, Assistant Curator.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of catching up with Kathleen Kolb and finding out a little more about what drives the art of this talented Vermont-based painter.

Kathleen Kolb Twilit House

Kathleen’s Twilit House (2013), Winner of Viewers’ Choice Award! Oil on panel, 18 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Anna Rogulina (AR): What first inspired you to become an artist? What compels you to make art?

Kathleen Kolb (KK): Two things come to mind: beauty and illusion.  I have always found beauty compelling and transfixing.  And what I’ve been compelled to do is to try to transfix my experience of beauty to share with others.  I’ve also found visual illusions delightful since I was young.  Once when I was 4 I woke up early on Sunday morning and was playing with my brothers before our parents got up.  We rearranged some small bookshelves and a table to create a little playhouse and were having a wonderful time.  Then I got the brilliant idea that if I drew pictures of my brothers on the backs of the bookshelves (facing out), (imaginary) passers-by would believe those were windows and that they were seeing my brothers inside!  This I commenced to do with the total belief that the illusion would be absolutely convincing!

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Have you recently ventured into the Contemporary Gallery at the NBMAA? Wondering what the futuristic sound-dome is all about? LIsten in as the artist-mastermind behind The Road Not Taken, Jason Huff, and Curatorial Intern, Emily Sesko, discuss  the work and muse about art and life.

Emily Sesko (ES): A few of your projects “zoom in” on an interaction between literature and algorithmic computer functions. How would you say your experiences with these projects, like “AutoSummarize” or “The Road Not Taken” have affected your perspective on literature, or have they not?

Jason Huff (JH): I think about literature differently now. I keep trying to imagine the 30 million or more books on Google Books, plus all of the other texts on sites like Project Gutenberg, and it’s overwhelming. When I created “AutoSummarize,” I was interested in Markov string generators and how computer algorithms could learn English-language grammars. I was curious to find the algorithms’ limits.

In “AutoSummarize,” I use Microsoft Word’s summary algorithm to create the summaries. It was absurd to me that software engineers had built a tool that would let users summarize any body of text to 1% of its original length. (Maybe it makes sense for business documents, but I’m still not convinced.) When I started using Word to summarize entire books, the results were unexpected. Suddenly, I was reminded of all the Cliffs Notes I read in high school, of classic books, only these summaries were even more succinct — ridiculously so. The summaries felt like parodies of the originals, but also true to the way reading and writing has changed over the years.

Microsoft added AutoSummarize to Word in 1997. Each new version includes some upgraded version of the function. There are some basic rules that apply to the summaries; word count, capitalization, etc. Outside of those rules, the algorithm is a bit of a mystery. Making the work was my way of trying to understand two things: one, how Word’s AutoSummarize function produces its summaries, and two, how an algorithm can tell stories.

To me, it is fascinating that algorithms are making content decisions. It’s not a big secret; everyone knows that algorithms power things like Google Search and grammar-correcting word-processing programs. What is interesting is how often people take these complicated equations for granted. If we start to think of them as authors of content — or co-authors — that collaborate with us to generate meaning and poetry, things start to get a lot more interesting. “The Road Not Taken” really points to this idea. It asks viewers to pause and think about the millions of other people and entities who co-create search suggestions, including the algorithm itself, their own personal search histories and current location notwithstanding. The scale of conditional factors is really tremendous, and the way the resulting prosaic language (in the case of Google search suggestions) is presented is meant to feel like a default choice. It’s designed to be seen and clicked, but not really thought about. It’s like Google saying, “Follow the easy paths. We know you like them.”

So I think there is a second author hiding in plain sight, and remixing not only our very interesting historic literature, but also the everyday junk language we use to search the Web. I think phenomena like Google search suggestions are just as influential to pop culture as a pop-novelist whose writing reflects a particular moment. Our own everyday story is being told back to us in these fractured web- and software interfaces all the time. It is its own kind of literature. (more…)

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Image

This August, we’re challenging our visitors and readers to submit a creative caption

for Lulu Delacre’s illustration for Senor Cat’s Romance. Fill out a caption card and drop it in the box hanging in the gallery or simply write in the comment section below. Don’t forget to leave us your contact information so we can send you a free 

year-long family membership if you are the winner. Take a look below to see who you’re up against!

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This post comes to us from Carolyn Nims, Education Assistant. 

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Brown Gillespie (b. 1953), Milky Way, 2011, Wood, custom programmed LEDs, acrylic on canvas, 53 x 50 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, Gift of Mary Gillespie.

Brown Gillespie (b. 1953), Milky Way, 2011, Wood, custom programmed LEDs, acrylic on canvas, 53 x 50 in. New Britain Museum of American Art, Gift of Mary Gillespie.

Milky Way (2010) is part of Brown Gillespie’s ongoing project, Light Visions. This cutting edge contemporary artwork consists of an abstract acrylic painting on canvas recessed in a frame set with light emitting diode (LED) lights all along the inside. The LED lights are a continuous alternating series of red, green, and blue, which are programmed to fade in and out in varying patterns and combinations. The effects are visually and intellectually stimulating. As the lighting color combinations change, so do the colors of the acrylic painting. Usually, when viewing a painting under white light, the color of the paint is static. We assume that once a pigment is set, so is the color. We consider color as a constant within a work of art, while other aspects are more subjective. However, the LED lights play with color mixing principles to show how mutable color can be, in relation to light and other colors. The viewer may wonder, Why do these colors change? This artwork bids us to question the rules that govern color, making it worthwhile to be at least familiar with some color theory, in particular the color mixing principles that Gillespie plays with.

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This post comes to us from Sarah Solberg, Curatorial Intern

“Everything vanishes, falls apart doesn’t it? Nature is always the same but nothing in her that appears to us lasts. Our art must render the thrill of her permanence, along with her elements, the appearance of all her changes. It must give us a taste of her eternity.”

– Paul Cézanne

Jane Bunker (b. 1945) Illumination, ca. 2012. Oil on canvas, 72 in. x 60 in. Collection of the artist

Jane Bunker (b. 1945)
Illumination, ca. 2012. Oil on canvas, 72 in. x 60 in.
Collection of the artist

When viewing Jane Bunker’s work, you are given the opportunity to share in the way that she and many others experience the world around them. Bunker was diagnosed as a child with myopia, or (plainly) extreme nearsightedness. Although her vision has been corrected, it still deeply influences her work and the way that she sees her surroundings. Having personal experience with myopia, I can attest that she has captured the distorted world where I find myself every time that I remove my glasses. Sharing in her experience, I immediately connected with her work. (more…)

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NC WyethThis July, we’re challenging our visitors and readers to submit a creative caption for N.C. Wyeth’s illustration for Treasure Island. Fill out a caption card and drop it in the box hanging next to the painting or simply write in the comment section below. Don’t forget to leave us your contact information so we can send you a free year-long family membership if you are the winner. Take a look below to see who you’re up against!

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This post comes to us from Emily Sesko, Curatorial Intern

Down comes Norman Rockwell, and up goes Pinocchio.

Walt Disney, Scene from Pinocchio, 1939, for the film Pinocchio, 1940, Celluloid painting (animation cel), Bequest of Helen Vibberts, 2008.88 LIC

Walt Disney, Scene from Pinocchio, 1939, for the film Pinocchio, 1940, Celluloid painting (animation cel), Bequest of Helen Vibberts, 2008.88 LIC

Beginning this week, kids rule! Visitors have a chance to catch a glimpse of an original animation cel from Disney’s 1940 film with our newly-installed show from the Low Illustration Collection, featuring illustrations, covers, and much, much more from publications intended for young readers. Gracing the walls in the Low Illustration Gallery now are some old favorites (like Mickey and Minnie, and a photograph from Walter Wick’s I Spy series) and some new friends, including seven illustrations by Nicholas Napoletano for a children’s book in the works by our very own Director Douglas Hyland. (more…)

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This post comes to us from Pat Hickox, Docent.

Clara Driscoll in work room at Tiffany Studios with Joseph Briggs, 1901. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. (Thanks to Ms. Vreeland’s website above)

Clara Driscoll in work room at Tiffany Studios with Joseph Briggs, 1901. Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. (Thanks to Ms. Vreeland’s website above)

I write to you as a woman, lover of art, and a docent @ NBMAA.  With the May 24th opening of “The Brilliance of Louis Comfort Tiffany: Painter and Craftsman” in the NBMAA McKernan Gallery, I will be eager to see Mr. Tiffany’s work.  However, I will also be interested to see if there is any reference to the women who worked within his studio in the late 1800’s.

Months ago anticipating this incoming exhibition, the Arts and Literature program @ NBMAA read a novel by author Susan Vreeland titled Clara and Mr. Tiffany (ask for it at the NBMAA gift shop).  Working with Heather Whitehouse, Associate Curator of Education, I developed a power point presentation regarding this interesting relationship to complement her discussion.

Thanks to Ms. Vreeland’s book and extensive web site www.svreeland.com/tiff.html, I was led into the fascinating world of women  in New York City  in the late 1900’s , as well as the newly emerging field of women in the industrial arts.  Her novel came about after much research and contacts with the New York Historical Society (www.nyhistory.org). (more…)

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Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). Near Eastern Interior, n.d. Watercolor and pencil on paper, 15 ¼ x 10 ¼. Nassau County Museum.

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). Near Eastern Interior, n.d. Watercolor and pencil on paper, 15 ¼ x 10 ¼. Nassau County Museum of Art.

This post comes to us from Alyssa Speranza, Curatorial Intern.

Louis Comfort Tiffany was a true chameleon when it came to his use of different artistic media in his ongoing quest for beautyl. The Brilliance of Louis Comfort Tiffany: Painter and Craftsman, which just opened on Friday, displays paintings and watercolors by Tiffany as well as stained-glass windows, jewelry, lamps and vases he designed. I’ll admit that at first I thought any firm relationship between his paintings and decorative art objects was unlikely, but as I learned more about Tiffany’s life and interests, it became much easier to see the connection. (more…)

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