Archive for January 2012

Memorials   Leave a comment

It was the falling that hit me first: the reflection of buildings in the smooth water along the parapet then their dissolving into water that  plummets first to one level then, through the center, to unseen depths.  Then came the particularity: the parade of names carved into the black stone and, just as powerful, the splitting of the water into individual streams. 

Have you ever seen Maya Lin’s memorial to the Civil Rights Movement in Montgomery, Alabama?  A smooth sheet of water streams across a table of granite and down its sides, continuous and unstoppable.  Through it you read the names of people and the dates of events while the water steadily flows.  There, the memorial is to the movement.  Here at the 9/11 Memorial, with its individual threads of water, the memorial is to the people who lost their lives — first responders, people in the trade center, the Pentagon, Flight 77…

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Posted January 10, 2012 by leeadairlawrence in architecture, memorials, sculpture

Remember Tintin going to Tibet? Well, he was not alone…   Leave a comment

Years and years ago, I read Tintin in Tibet, but I had no idea that, since the 1940s, all sorts of comic book characters have been visiting this far-off land of snow-capped mountains.   This is what a show at the Rubin Museum of Art explores, and after I had read comic after comic after comic, I found myself thinking of  other incarnations Tibet has had.

The Tibetan community in exile still speaks very much in terms of someday returning to its homeland, and for these Tibetans ‘Tibet’ is a concrete geographic place and culture.  But to us outsiders, ‘Tibet’ is getting more and more narrowly defined.  Whenever I see Tibetan monks creating sand mandalas in a museum, Tibetan embroidery and brassware for sale,  or a stupa rising on the Costa del Sol, I wonder whether ‘Tibet’ may not be reincarnating as an increasingly rarefied collection of objects, rituals, and religious practices that floats around the world.

When we think of Tibet, don’t most of us flash to robed lamas and deep-throated chants…tangkhas and bronzes and the Dalai Lama advocating non-violence…windswept mountainscapes where smiling children scamper and old women look out from wrinkled faces…?  It is a ‘Tibet’ not far removed from the 2-D Tibet of comics, when you get right down to it.  Which makes this following bit all the more relevant (and poignant):  in writing  my review, I learned that some young Tibetans living in exile are launching a Comics Workshop.  Why? To make sure that ‘real Tibetans’ start inhabiting comic book Tibet, just the way they long to inhabit the land of their forefathers.

Posted January 4, 2012 by leeadairlawrence in Asian art, museum shows, New York

Eva Zeisel…   Leave a comment

…now here is a woman who has crossed many a border:

from Hungary to Germany to Russia to Austria and eventually the US…

from painting to pottery to design that shaped the look of modern homes.

Today’s New York Times feature includes this:

“By 1935, she was working in Moscow as the artistic director of the Russian republic’s china and glass industry. On May 28, 1936, she was arrested, falsely accused by a colleague of conspiring to assassinate Stalin. She was imprisoned for 16 months, mostly in solitary confinement, an experience that Arthur Koestler, a childhood friend, drew upon in writing his celebrated 1941 novel, “Darkness at Noon.”

Again, Ms. Zeisel’s eyes were opened. “You feel the difference first in the way you see colors,” she wrote later of the deprivations of prison.

At 105 she has crossed  another threshold.

 

Asked how to make something beautiful, she once replied, “You just have to get out of the way.” (this, too, from the NYT piece)

 

Posted January 1, 2012 by leeadairlawrence in Ceramics, craft art