Audrey C GIP
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Audrey C GIP

Is modern art art?

My thoughts as I’m sitting in the middle of a white, cold, bare room.

Alexander Calder’s exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

As I’m sitting in the middle of a white, cold, bare room of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), I can’t help but wonder and question the fascination people have with these… scribbles, sorry I mean art. My family loves art museums, modern art museums to be specific. Every family trip since I was 10 became a mission to visit every single modern art museum, wherever we were, despite the fact that each one looked the same with the same art, one museum occasionally holding the original version of all the recreations seen at the other places.

As I’m sitting in the middle of a white, cold, bare room, I’m losing respect for art each passing minute while the rest of my family, in complete contrast, continues to fall into the unknown abyss, black hole if you will, of modern art, their intrigue exponentially expanding across the empty horizons of scribbles and lines and hanging pieces of metal.

As I’m sitting in the middle of a white, cold, bare room, I can’t help but dream and imagine myself back in the Met, amid the stories and history and beauty encapsulated by ancient art. The thing is, I truly love art, just not modern art. But I’ve grown up thinking I was just odd and dull for being the only one in my family lacking the appreciation of art… modern art. My definition of art was only modern art due to my lack of exposure to other art genres throughout childhood.

As I’m sitting in the middle of a white, cold, bare room, I’m realizing why I detest modern art so much. Art is a language and it’s supposed to tell stories. While I see stories in the ancient art of Greeks and Romans, the hanging pieces of metal in Calder’s exhibit feels empty. I can’t help but compare ancient and modern art to the frontiers of America: ancient art is creation while modern art feels almost…materialistic. Modern art feels shallow, meaningless.

As I’m sitting in the middle of a white, cold, bare room, I recall my mom’s reaction to the art in the Met. While she does appreciate ancient art, she struggles to see the stories and meaning. Meanwhile, here at the MoMA, something about the lines and scribbles and hanging metal is resonating with her in a way that only my mother will understand. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder… but I say, art is in the eye of the beholder.

As I’m sitting in the middle of a white, cold, bare room, I’m lost in thought, confused with the world of art. Like I wrote in past blog posts, art is a language. But maybe not just a singular language… many languages. Modern art, ancient art, and more all speak for itself in different ways. However my brain is running in circles because art isn’t multiple languages — it’s one language. And I say this with my N4 storytelling-through-art experience from a few months ago in mind. My story exchange partner and I presented very different genres of art, yet I was still able to understand my partner’s story despite the language barrier. So what is art then? One language? Multiple languages? Is art just a languages with, perhaps, dialects?

As I’m sitting in the middle of a white, cold, bare room, I’m suddenly grateful to be sitting in this museum, surrounded by art I seriously do not like. I’m suddenly grateful to my family for dragging me along all their modern art museum expeditions. I’m suddenly grateful because my tremendous exposure to modern art that ultimately led me to such despise has allowed me to see the beauty in other forms of art. I’m suddenly grateful because sitting in the middle of a white, cold, bare room of New York’s Museum of Modern Art inspired me to write this piece in this moment, impulsively nonetheless.

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Global Scholars 2022 blog

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Audrey C.

Audrey C.

the name is audge. audgecho. || Global Scholars ‘22

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