Vacation Idea: Boston Museum of Fine Arts

As we start making reservations for the upcoming summer vacation, where are some places that we could go? Check out the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the fourth largest museum in the United States…

After countless tests, quizzes, assignments, and then the daunting AP Exams, we all need a break and need to rewind during Summer Break. So the question is: where should we go?

According to numerous scientific studies including the US National Library of Medicine, art has rehabilitation effects and is one of the best forms of media that can be enjoyed by a wide group of people.

Already making reservations and arrangements for going on vacation during the upcoming Summer Break here’s a recommendation of a renowned art museum in Boston.

Known as the Museum of Fine Arts, the museum is the fourth largest museum in the United States. The art gallery contains more than 450,000 works of art and is the 55th most visited art gallery in the world. For more information such as locations or accommodations nearby, please refer to their official website: http://www.mfa.org/.

Having been to the museum myself, I can say that one of the best features of the art museum is how neatly the collections are organised. Organised quite comprehensively by time periods, some of their highlight collections includes the French Impressionist and Post Impressionist Collection and the 18th and 19th Century American Art. The American Art collection has especially received more attention due to the Room in Brooklyn piece by the one and only, Edward Hopper.

Apart from their usual collections, the Museum of Fine Arts also opens special exhibitions depending on the time of the year. The current featured exhibition is Past is Present: Revival Jewelry and the exhibition will be shown until August 19, 2018. The exhibition displays different pieces of jewelry from archaeological, Classical, Egyptian, and Renaissance periods.

If you ever get a chance to go to Boston during the summer or even in the upcoming Spring Break, make sure to check out the Museum of Fine Arts!

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PC: Claire J. Lee (’19)
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PC: Claire J. Lee (’19)

– Claire J. Lee (’19)

Expressive Algorithms: Can Computers be Artists?

Can computers create art? Can this art ever be valued for creativity? And, unavoidably, what is art?

Technology that brings computers increasingly closer to humanity: artificial intelligence. With the steady development of various programs that mimic human thought, the rise of artificial intelligence has lent much fear-driven inspiration to apocalyptic stories, in which humans are overpowered by robots in a crushing defeat— a crumbling Tower of Babel. The pop-culture archetypes are only reflections of an anxiety that is becoming very much real in society. But the fear that computers may someday steal one’s job seems to be limited to stereotypically formulaic careers, completely evading the realm of artists. After all, it is difficult to imagine how codes can replace the composer, painter, or poet. But scientists are already making progress in creating artistic robots, posing multiple questions that push the boundaries of contemporary thought: can computers create art? Can this art ever be valued for creativity? And, unavoidably, what is art?

For instance, take AARON, a computer program that produces paintings. With a human partner, it can experiment with colors and shapes, resulting in dynamic, large-scale works that would not seem out of place at a modern art gallery.

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A Painting by AARON

Or consider Google’s Deep Dream Generator, which allows the visualization of a computer’s “dream”- or, more accurately and less romantically, a visual depiction of patterns that the program pulls from a blank canvas of white noise, resulting in a fascinating, hallucinatory work of “art”.

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A Computer’s “Dream”

The diversity of creative programs stretches far beyond paintings, across the wider spectrum of the Arts- Magenta is a program by Google that can compose original art and music. Although the songs produced autonomously by the program do not hold much entertainment value without human intervention, the program is continuously being developed, lending unlimited potential to how original or enjoyable these songs could eventually become.

Language, considered to be a singular and exclusive gift of humanity, is no exception. The fickle rules and patterns of sentences are being coded into computers with increasing caliber, and machines have already gained the ability to replace generic sports article writers. This is why literature is far from evading the pursuit of technology. For example, a novel written autonomously by artificial intelligence after only being given selected sentences and parameters by the human developers made it past the first round of a Japanese literary prize. The lead developer, Hitoshi Matsubara, said: “so far, AI programs have often been used to solve problems that have answers, such as Go and Shogi. In the future, I’d like to expand AI’s potential [so it resembles] human creativity.”

However, we must question what gives art its value in order to evaluate whether these works, or even more advanced and autonomous works created by robots in the future, could qualify as art. Say technology advances to the point that a robot can make autonomous plot choices and create a novel that is indistinguishable from one written by a human, or can create a song or a painting in a similar manner. To the audience, the work may inspire the same feelings and even cause an original realization about the human condition- despite the irony of that situation. If that were to be, put very crudely, the purpose of art, it may even seem reasonable to state that machines can create art.

But there is a distinction between art and entertainment. It may be a fine line, but things that entertain cannot be considered art before it begins with the desire to express something. And this very idea of expression- of creativity- is something human by definition. As a rough analogy, we would not consider a chimpanzee’s painting worth artistic value unless it was the product of a conscious decision made by the chimpanzee to express an idea or emotion. It merely holds entertainment value in that the concept of a chimpanzee artist is interesting. Another way to think about it is a computer that can generate conversational responses based on mass data of human texts- it cannot be a conversation if the computer is not conversing with its own intent. A painting expressing sadness cannot be art until the computer can experience sadness. Art may very well be the only realm that computers cannot enter, not because they are not smart enough, but because they inherently fail to be human.

Computers can generate entertainment- they may one day produce ideal music, literature, and visual art that is even more pleasing to the senses than work created by humanity. But this, created purely in the aesthetic sense, would still not be art.

Let us return to the initial question- will the rise of artificial intelligence endanger the jobs of artists? It cannot ever undermine the value of true art, but it may invade part of the art industry that is fueled by the search for entertainment. In other words, a large portion of consumers of music, literature, and visual arts can be satisfied with entertainment. If it gives them the same experience, the intent of creation would not matter to them. This means the livelihood of many human creators are indeed at a great risk, jeopardized as the world of binary and digital encroaches upon the world of sentiment and analogue.

But the optimist would like to think that enough artists will remain in the world to value each other’s humanity and the endless will to create. That in a world where the definition of humanity is perpetually shifting from what humans can do to what computers cannot, art will remain standing to shine a light on the spontaneous, eccentric, and insane.

-Jisoo Hope Yoon (’19)

Sources:

Cover Image: image created by Magenta, Google’s artificial intelligence project

http://www.iflscience.com/technology/artificial-intelligence-dreams/

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33677271&sa=D&ust=1485009093776000&usg=AFQjCNFaGDhFrQlHJfh2nIDpY919dQ4Sgw

http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/japanese-ai-writes-novel-passes-first-round-nationanl-literary-prize/

 

Why Art?

No more skeptical glances, no more scoffs of disapproval. Art is not a topic that one can disregard.

“Oh, she’s just going to major in art because she doesn’t have the brains to actually study.”

         “You want to go to art school? But you’re so smart! That’s such a shame.”

               “In a world full of starving children and hectic politics, how the hell does art matter?”

If you’re an art student, these sort of questions may be more than familiar to you. In a world where new developments in technology and medicine are in constant demand, it’s easy for people to cast aside the arts as irrelevant, even pointless. And to a degree, I don’t blame them. When you’re in the midst of researching for a cure for cancer, or discussing how to solve the ever imminent issue of Syrian refugees, the works of Pablo Picasso or learning how to wield a paintbrush is most likely going to be the last thing on your mind. However, that doesn’t mean that art is a subject we can completely disregard.

It’s no secret that art is an outlet for creativity. But contrary to what many may believe, this creativity isn’t just useful for choosing hues or arranging a composition. It serves a purpose later on in careers of all fields, where everywhere they look people are forced to come up with new and innovative solutions, a skill that employers look for the most. In a study conducted by Paul Silvia at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, researchers found that involving oneself in a creative activity forced people to “cultivate competence, and reflect critically on the world”. And this served true for those who weren’t necessarily masters of the arts – even seemingly amateur and foolish results spurred this sort of mental development. Especially for primary school students, an education in the arts helps rewire the brain to promote intuition, reasoning, and dexterity.

Now you may ask, to a person who struggles day by day to support themselves, to put food into their children’s mouths, why does art matter to them? In April 2016, freelance reporter Alison Stine released an article “Why Art Matters Even in Poverty”, which covered the role of art in her and her son’s life as a family who lived in poverty. Despite the hardships, Stine noted how creativity made the “the unlivable not just livable, but survivable”, and how art was a source of happiness and entertainment in their everyday lives.

To look deeper into the misconceptions of the arts, Blueprint decided to ask the 2D Arts teacher, Ms. Cone, a few questions about society’s misunderstandings of the arts and what we can do to get rid of those stereotypes.

BP: What are some of people’s’ misconceptions about art and artists themselves?

Ms. Cone: I think that one of the major misconceptions about art and artists is that people have this quintessential fear of what an artist is- the image of a starving artist, a painter living by themselves in a disheveled, one-bedroom flat, the tortured soul. And I think that what people don’t realize is how many aspects of art there are and just how much art has impacted the world around us. The term “artist” itself can be broadened to include all manners of creators, a fact that doesn’t typically come to people’s minds when they hear the word.

BP: What do you think causes some of these misconceptions about art?

Ms. Cone: Part of it I believe is due to the romanticized view, based off of movies and/or the media. When this trope became popular- I can’t say for sure. But it certainly caused people’s worries about their children wanting to become artists, as people immediately think of the picture of the artist living in squalor. So inevitably, we see less support for that career path and art becomes denigrated.   

BP: What can society do to get rid of these stereotypes of the starving artist and the ideal of students taking art as the easy way out of studying?

Ms. Cone: Oh man, that last part makes me so mad. I think part of it is coming to understand and appreciate the wide variety of artists there are in the world, and realizing how much of our daily lives are impacted by art. I’m using art in a very broad term, but literally everything you use, sit on, drive, come into contact with, had an artist- particularly industrial designers- involved in the process of creating that product. Coming to realize how much art enriches our lives everyday, not just through design but even as specific as painting. Think of hospitals that have no paintings in them, and hospitals that do have paintings in them- I’ll bet you that there are studies that show that hospitals with paintings in them make people happier. Just bringing creation and carefully considered visual spaces to people really does hold a positive impact. I think just generally being more educated will make people more appreciative of the arts. As of right now it’s really a zero-sum game- either you’re an arts person or a science person. People need to be more open to being multiple types of people. Everyone has the potential to be an artist, a creator, but they have to be willing to entertain that possibility.

Art isn’t the route of an escapist. It forces one to take a break from the bubble that surrounds us – to pause and take a look at the larger world in full force. So the next time you learn of someone choosing to take art as a career path, don’t mock them or disregard their work as insignificant. As John F. Kennedy once said, “we must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth”.

-Seiyeon Park (’17)

Featured Image: Seiyeon Park (’17) (Art by Sookja Lee)

 

Things That Should be Taught in School

How much of the real world is captured by the subjects covered at school? Read on for an opinion on all that lies outside of the current scope of education.

School is an institution of society, built to educate the youth and prepare them for adulthood. This is where students take their first steps into society, and spend the pivotal years of their early lives, forming their identities. But the focus of school tends to drift to subjects for which progress is easily measurable, in an attempt to quantify the intelligence of children and teenagers- when in reality, school means something much more than that. Classes could be capturing so much more of the world than than SAT and AP scores. There are many things that could be taught in class to encourage a fulfilling life- to take a broader viewpoint of “education”.

The first is morals. While some people may claim that this enters the territory of what is the parents’ responsibility to teach, the same level of moral education cannot be guaranteed for all students if it is simply left for individual families. Studies conducted for a Korean documentary, “The Private Life of Children” (KBS 아이의 사생활), show that having high moral standards has a strong correlation with earning good grades. Students need a class in which the significance of common ethical issues that arise in school can be considered, such as bullying or cheating. More than being lecture-based, the class would consist of plenty of time for students to discuss moral issues amongst themselves and have honest, quiet reflections by oneself. Studies have shown that many people only need a “moral reminder” to correct one’s actions for the better (research by professor Dan Ariely)- why not put moral reminders into classes?

Another subject that students could benefit from is art appreciation and evaluation. Of course, KIS offers a rich arts curriculum, including the visual arts, music, and theatre. However, these courses focus on teaching students how to create art themselves, and appreciation of existing art is a skill that is treated as some sort of a “side lesson” that comes from taking the course. This prevents a multitude of students from learning how to truly appreciate and evaluate art. For example, a student could have a great interest in learning about the history and complexity of music, but play no instruments and lack confidence in his singing voice. Another student may love to go to art exhibitions in her free time and would love to learn more about the analysis of visual art, but feels she lacks the talent to take a particular course, especially when the majority of students taking art in high school are well-experienced and specialized. The Arts is what enriches our lives, stimulating imagination, philosophy, and creative thinking- why not give students a chance to appreciate the beauties of life?

The third is mental health. An underestimated percentage of student populations suffers from mild to severe mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety. But these issues tend to be ignored in contrast to their physical counterparts. Mental health is a vital part of life that deserves more attention in schools. While KIS has taken a step to solve this problem by hiring a school psychologist, this seems to serve a certain minority rather than give the general student body a proper education in mental health awareness: of how mental disorders are no more “weird” or “embarrassing” than physical disorders, how we should be aware of those surrounding us who may be suffering from one, and when and how we should get help. It is only logical that schools place the same amount of emphasis on mental health as well as physical. The class doesn’t always have to deal with specific disorders: general mental health, such as dealing with stress, is a big part of what could be the mental health curriculum.

A final class that students may need is sex education. Of course, unlike some other “courses” previously mentioned in this article, sex education already exists and is widely taught in schools. But- that’s right- KIS does not have a proper system for sex education. This means that high schoolers graduate without ever having properly received education on one of the most important and relevant topics in their lives. In some cases, a lack of formal sex education leads to students relying on their friends or the internet for information, which can be highly dangerous. While it may be a somewhat awkward subject for many students, it is clear that this is an unavoidable part of the curriculum of life.

There is no saying that all the aforementioned topics have to be independent courses. Practically speaking, each has slightly different means of ideal implementation: moral studies and mental health can be incorporated into advisory and counseling, sex education could be placed in the P.E. curriculum, while it is easy to imagine art appreciation as a separate semester course. But the important thing is that all of them- covering the vast, overlooked dimensions of our world- deserve more attention.

It is time we considered on a deeper level what the true meaning of education is. School is meant to assist the youth, and subjects that focus less on the scores and more on “life education” have potential to revolutionize an education system clouded with myopia.

-Jisoo Hope Yoon (’19)

*Featured Image: https://www.nyiad.edu/images/cms/design-articles/six-secrets-setting-free-creativity01-hr.jpg

Painting out the Trauma

Delving into the True Beauty of Art

Globally, the refugee crisis is occurring at an unprecedented scale.

Within the last decade, the number of migrants has increased more than 300%, meaning every one out of thirteen people in this world is a refugee (Aljazeera). They have no choice. Millions flee from war, political oppression, violence, poverty, child labor, and other unimaginable, devastating grounds, hoping for safety, acceptance, and opportunity. Yet, this tragedy is provoking significant repercussions, in which painful trauma is leaving dark emotional wounds for the refugees, including children in the long-term.

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Refugee Child (MEE/Andrea Dicenzo)

The most endemic mental disorders faced by refugees include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, prolonged grief disorder, and other anxiety disorders, along with developmental and intellectual hindrances for children. As a result, severe mental health crisis for the refugees is calling for greater efforts in developing effective psychological therapies that can attend to the multiple traumas of torture, rape, and war.

Recently, the field of art has been shedding light in transforming the lives of refugees. Through creative means, art therapy encourages non-verbal communication between refugees and therapists, a powerful way of overcoming language and cultural barriers, and allowing refugees of all ages to freely explore and express their emotions—a way to fight back the frightening memories of trauma.  

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Anita Toutikan guiding children (Knefel)
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Art therapy in Lebanon (Knefel)

“We are not teaching art here, and we are not doing full therapy…We are offering them the opportunity to express themselves freely, without judgment, without evaluation of their work,” proclaimed Anita Toutikian, an artist/psychologist working in the Lebanon Barja Technical school (Knefel). Each day, Syrian refugee children randomly burst into Toutikian’s two hour long art sessions in Lebanon, where they paint out their diverse stories, or even “brightly colored landscapes full of sailboats, cars, and trees” (thenation).

But, it’s not just Toutikian who is venturing out to show the refugees a new life out of terror through art.   

  1. Castle Art in Akre, Donguk

Saddam Hussein’s once devastated prison of terror in Iraq is now filled with Syrian refugee children, twinkling with their bright smiles, joyfully holding up their colorful paint brushes.

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Castle Art Brightens up Children in Akre Camp (Robinson)

The Akre camp known as the “Castle” is a prison building symbolic of the dictator Hussein’s crimes against the Kurdish people. But now, its derelict walls have become beautiful canvas boards for passionate children.

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Funded by the Rise Foundation, the “Castle Art Project” provides children with spray cans, rollers, and paint once a week. With these scarce materials, a breathtaking mural has been formed—in place of once bleak paintings of war, weapons, and death, the wall is now filled with vibrant landscapes of flowers, birds, handprints, and people. Moreover, street artists like Banksy have volunteered to teach the children various mural techniques, including the usage of corridors, cracks, and staircases as a part of the canvas.

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How art has changed Deana’s life (Robinson)

“When I’m involved in Castle Art I am happy. I used to draw as a child,” expressed 15-year-old Deana who is now dreaming of attending art school one day.

  1. Art Photography in the Kawergosk Refugee Camp

“I want to learn photography because I believe that with it, everyone can see what I feel and how we live,” voiced out Maya Rostam, a 12 year-old refugee, who had been participating in Reza’s Exiles Voices Project.

The renowned photojournalist Reza had traveled to the Kawergosk Refugee Camp in Kurdistan, Iraq, and his photography workshop for children “The Exiles Voices Project” has finally developed into a five-year joint project with the UNHCR.

Displaced children whose lives were torn apart by the violent Syrian war have managed to capture the astonishing beauty, happiness, sincerity, and child-like innocence within the camp; a miracle against all the odds. At the same time, underneath the playfulness and simplicity of children shown in the photos, radiates great power, revealing the true reality of the camp situation—frozen shoes, lack of food, and unhygienic condition.

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Photographer Reza and the Refugee Children (Maptia)

Ultimately, the culmination of the children’s photos and Reza’s portraits in the camp have made it to the Paris exhibition last year, inspiring people across borders.

3) The Za’atari Project

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Za’atari Syrian Refugee Camp (JoelArtista Blog)

There is not a single hint of animal or vegetation in the harsh region of the Za’atari camp located in northern Jordan. A cruel, deserted wasteland filled with endless rows of tents and caravans, along with the extreme sunlight and dust storms, it is the second largest refugee camp in the world with more than 80,000 inhabitants.

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Mural Art Created by the Artists and Children (JoelArtista Blog)

But the Za’atari camp is now filled with color that contrasts with the utter bareness of the region. Since 2013, the world-travelling street artist Joel Bergner partnered with a team of artists and educators from aptART, ACTED, UNICEF, ECHO and Mercy Corps, leading a series of workshops for children, who not only learn about water conservation or hygiene issues in camp, but were also given the opportunity to participate in mural art.  

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“Dozens of children had the opportunity to participate and add their own creativity to murals that they created throughout the camp, adding color and life to the desolate environment and spreading messages of hope to camp residents” —Joel Bergner 

Likewise, the power of art has proved remarkable in not only raising awareness outside the globe, but also in changing the lives of many refugees. Whether it’s photography, film, or painting, the huge variety of creative mediums encourage refugees to express themselves and realize their boundless potential.  

– Sammie Kim 18′

Featured Image from JoelArtista Blog

Kohei Nawa Takes Over Europe

Recognize Kohei Nawa’s art from Big Bang’s music videos?

http://kohei-nawa.net/works/pixcell

Crystalline structures that depict breath-taking stags, fluffy foam-like structures that rise and fall like waves. Japanese artist Kohei Nawa’s works never fail to amaze their audiences and now, they’ve taken on Europe.

One might recognize the deer in the image above from several social media boards, from Instagram to Tumblr or even Bigbang’s music video for their song “Bae Bae”.  

A globally acknowledged contemporary artist, Kohei Nawa has collaborated with several other artists of his time such as Takashi Murakami and Anish Kapoor, and has even created headpieces for fashion brand Commes des Garçons’s Spring/Summer 2012 runway show.

Pace London // Commes Des Garçons
Pace London // Commes Des Garçons

Born in 1975, Osaka, Japan, Kohei Nawa attended the Kyoto City University of Arts, earning both a master’s and a doctoral degree in sculpture. Ever since a young age Nawa had been interested in the arts, and later on in his high school years, architecture and physics, which combined his creative abilities to devise structures that had elements of both pleasingly aesthetic and striking form that took three dimensional art to a whole new level. A key factor in the distinctiveness of each of Nawa’s pieces is the risk he takes with materials. Nawa was never afraid to use unconventional materials, from prism sheets to epoxy resin to mixtures of detergent, glycerin, and water.

Nobutaoa Omote for Sandwich Images
Omote Nobutada for Sandwich Images

In his newest exhibition at the Pace Gallery in London, there’s a variety of works from paintings, sculptures, and installations, all from his previous collections Direction, Ether, Catalyst, and Moment. The theme of the show is “the visualization of gravity that is present in the cosmos,” a topic that Nawa loved to explore since he was a child. Although all the works come from different series and utilize different materials, they are all cohesive in that movement, direction, and gravity are all key factors in the construction and operation of the pieces.

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The amazing Kohei Nawa (Omote Nobutada)

Kohei Nawa’s first installation in the United Kingdom, Force, is a part of the She Inspires Art. The event is a night when artists from all around the world come to perform at the fundraising event for the charity Women for Women International, who’re currently working to aid the women in Nigeria and Syrian refugees in Iraq, a movement that Nawa joined because he wanted to “create an installation that uses artworks as metaphors for the distortions of our society and the limitations of economies driven by consumption.”

While Nawa is not the first Asian artist to entrance the Western eye for his work, his own take on contemporary art has marked a milestone in Japan’s art market, which has only recently joined the world in the modern gallery and art system. Nawa is able to fuse the traditional principles of Japanese art with modern materials, reaching new creative heights which neither the eastern nor western hemispheres have seen before.

 

– Seiyeon Park (’17)

African Art Hotter than Gold

The value of contemporary African art is skyrocketing prices and demand from investors worldwide. Art pieces bought back in 2008 have increased up to 10-fold in value today.

“You could buy a piece of good art for 20,000 Naira [about $100 at current conversion rates]. Today it would sell for millions,” Prince Yemisi Shyllon, reported to be Nigeria’s largest private art collector commented.

A leading factor of the increasing demand and value of African art is the exponential growth of African economies and the rising wealth of the middle class. More and more Africans are investing and spending their time and money in appreciating art and their culture. As we’ve all learnt in AP Economics, as the demand increases and the demand curve shifts to the right, the price undoubtedly increases.

These investments made in Africa have also caught the attention of the global market. Contemporary African artists have started fueling international exhibitions as their works continue to rise in fame. And this domino effect of holding auctions has raised much awareness especially in Europe and the US.

According to director of contemporary African Art auctions at Bonhams, Giles Peppiat, there are two principal reasons for this sudden awareness of African art: “Until about 15 years ago there was no email, there was virtually no internet and you can’t do these sales without modern communication. I also think it has to do with the general globalization of the art world. People are now much more used to seeing other cultures’ art at auction.”

These are some of the pieces that have been sold at unbelievable prices:

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‘Senufo Female’ Statue
An extremely rare ‘Senufo Female’ Statue curved by Ivory Coast-based artist, Master of Sinasso, sold for a record $12 million in November 2014. It was part of a $41.6 million worth of collection sold by an ambitious African art collector, Myron Kunin, at the Sotheby’s in New York.

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‘Muminia Lega’
The Muninia mask, a previously unseen masterpiece, was auctioned off at Sotheby’s France for about $4.4 million, one of the highest price in history for an African mask.

Through these auctions, Africa has its golden opportunity to showcase African art to the world, as the fundamental role of art should not be overshadowed despite the investment appeal.

Africa’s booming contemporary art market is without doubt on its way to creating a legacy, and spectators are looking forward to what more can be presented to the world.

– Hyun Jung Choi (’16)

Dismaland: The World’s First Bemusement Park

The world’s renown graffiti artist, Banksy, takes his criticism of modern society to the next level in his newest collaborative installation, Dismaland.

On the seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, England, thousands of visitors flock to a newly opened “bemusement” park, Dismaland. Called to be “unsuitable for small children”, Bristol-based street artist Banksy’s latest pop-up art installation is the combination of works by 58 artists and Banksy himself. It’s arranged as a dystopian and sinister mock-up of Disneyland, complete with fair games, a carousel, and a towering castle.

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/20/arts/banksy-dismaland-art-exhibition/
(CNN News)

Graffiti artist Banksy has always been famous for his stencils of irreverent, often satirical images of apes, rats, and cultural icons on streets, walls, and bridges around the world, from Los Angeles to Gaza, to Melbourne, despite the illegality of his actions. He first began as a graffiti and stencil artist in the 1980s with the belief that graffiti was not just a form of low-level dissent, but could be “used to start revolutions and to stop wars.” In his art, Banksy explores social and political themes such as anti-capitalism, anti-war, and anarchism.

For example, in this work depicting a couple embracing, Banksy criticizes how modern society has become so absorbed into technology that to the point where we are blind to our loved ones and the very things right in front of us.

Paul Green Photography
(Paul Green Photography)

In another artwork, Banksy depicts a lady falling with a shopping cart, condemning capitalism and how people have fallen senselessly into the cycle of consumerism.

http://banksyt-shirts.com/new-banksys-in-december-2011/
(Banksy Official Website)

For a month before its opening, the public was unaware of the project. When asked about the mysterious construction, owners of the site claimed that the area had been rented out to a film company called Grey Fox, and that a film set was being built.

When Dismaland officially opened to the public on August 22, crowds swarmed to see what Banksy had in store, and were appalled. Several of the pieces spoke directly to the ideals of modern society and the negative effects of consumerism not only on humanity but also on the environment.

A presumably dead Cinderella hangs out of her crashed coach and is blinded by the flash of the paparazzi’s’ cameras. This is an allusion to the death of Princess Diana of Wales, who died in a car crash after being consistently pursued by the paparazzi. A killer whale jumps out of a toilet and through a hula-hoop, perhaps criticizing the marine life industry and pointing a finger at SeaWorld. In a fountain, several children are huddled into miniature boats with other boats trailing behind them with guns pointed, making a powerful connection to the ongoing migrant crisis. And the Grim Reaper twists and whirls on a bumper car, representing how death can suddenly pick you up and take you away.

PA Photos
(PA Photos)
Photo by Christopher Jobson for Colossal
(Christopher Jobson for Colossal)
Yui Mok: PA Photos
(Yui Mok for PA Photos)
Alicia Canter for the Guardian
(Alicia Canter for the Guardian)

Overall, the park has proven to be shocking, frightening, and even horrifying, but it serves as an effective eye-opener to the behind story of the glamour of capitalism and modern society. Would you visit Dismaland?

– Seiyeon Park (’17)

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