In the early 1950s, designers Charles and Ray Eames painstakingly arranged penny cars, pencils, pills, and papers to photograph for their House of Cards construction set. They probably never imagined that decades later, thousands of children and adults in the Milwaukee region would meticulously decorate their own House of Cards, let alone that these cards would be installed together in a towering spiral at the Milwaukee Art Museum in conjunction with the exhibition Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America.
It’s my pleasure to share the work of the teen interns in this semester’s Satellite High School Program. Fifteen students from all around Milwaukee spent a semester exploring and discussing art, touring elementary school students, going behind the scenes, speaking to staff, and learning about career skills. Then, the teens created final projects expressing how art can be made relevant to our lives today and how the Milwaukee Art Museum can be an icon for the city, inside and out. This post, part 1 of 4, showcases the work of these students in their own words.
On one of the last warm days in October, I led sixteen teens into the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Postcards from America: Milwaukee exhibition. This blog post is a description of our experience spending one hour together looking at a single photographer’s work in the exhibition.
Postcards from America: Milwaukee shows the recent work of eleven Magnum Photographers, invited to photograph Milwaukee during the prior year as part of the Postcards for America project. None of these photographers were local, so their photographs—ranging from portraits at the Wisconsin State Fair to polaroids to an installation memorial for a deceased musician—were provocative for a group of high schoolers who have spent their whole lives here.
The first time I saw the Milwaukee Art Museum I was in awe. The huge wings and the stark white building against the lake made the Museum seem like a weird foreign castle that I wanted to explore and get lost in. When I got inside, I was suddenly intimidated as I realized I couldn’t lay my grubby first grade fingers on anything! It was probably one of the biggest let downs in my first grade life I had ever encountered, but now, coming back as a senior in high school (and knowing about artwork conservation), I know it was for a good reason.
Four weeks ago I had no idea that I would be creating a post that would be viewed by anyone who accessed Milwaukee Art Museum Blog. When I first started the internship I was ecstatic: Working at the art museum? I was movin’ on up in life. Then when I found out I was going to create a blog post, you could pretty much say my day–if not year–was made.
To me, art is not about the finished product but instead is a process of thoughts, motives, symbols, creativity and challenge. A museum’s central purpose is to secure and preserve the heritage of each work as a whole, ensuring that the voice of each artist is heard to reflect their thoughts, curiosity, and growth. Museums connect art with visitors beyond just the visual sense.
On a personal level, art has always been a part of my life. Whether it be in dance, thought, or in action; art surrounds me. As an intern here at the Milwaukee Art Museum, my appreciation for creativity, innovation, and artists new and old has only grown. Art as a whole, has changed through time, increasing in meaning and expression. In my eyes, the finished product of art does not need to make complete sense to every individual. The same piece of art I may find beautiful may not meet another’s standards of beauty. Art lives on, beyond the surface of a canvas, in the Museum.