At the end of February, teens in the Satellite High School Program gathered around Michelle Erickson’s Texas Tea Party (2005). They’ll study this object for the whole semester, using different methods of looking to form their own interpretations. For their first session, we spent one full hour looking closely at the work and having an open-ended dialogue about what we saw, the artist’s intent, and what it all might mean.
On the Museum’s Lower Level in the Hidden Dimensions gallery, there is a section on Myth, showcasing objects, such as card tables, that portray mythical figures. There are also several dishes mounted on the wall. A charger featuring the erotic seductress Venus is the subject of this blog post.
The dish in question dates to 1681 and is made of tin-glazed earthenware (also called Delftware). It features a reclining female nude with a child standing on her lap and four more children, or putti, playing behind her. The dish’s border depicts arrangements of fruit, cherries, flowers, masks in relief, and the inscription S/ WM/ 1681. Chargers with this scene are called fecundity dishes and were made in London between 1633 and 1697.
As of late we at Chipstone have found ourselves discussing how the different senses affect our perception of decorative arts objects. For example, have you ever been asked to describe an object while blindfolded?
At our summer session for college undergrads, titled Object Lab, the students are required to do just that. It is amazing how “seeing” an object with our hands instead of our eyes, makes us drop the art historical jargon and really get into the essence of a piece. Although our conversation at Chipstone has centered around touch and how touching a piece of furniture or a ceramic object helps the viewer understand the object better than if he or she were just relying on sight, I’d like to explore how sound can add to an object’s experience and understanding.
Have you ever been downstairs at the Milwaukee Art Museum? If you haven’t, next time you visit the Museum, walk by the contemporary art, as if going towards the Warrington Colescott exhibition. On the way, you will find a staircase punctuated by a hypnotic video drawing you downstairs. There you will find the interactive Chair Park made up of various reproductions of historical chairs, which you can sit on, relax, and experience fully as you converse with others sitting around you. You will also find the Word Cloud, a social tagging experiment that asks you to describe three seemingly disparate pieces with one word. Continuing east, you will come upon a small installation titled The Body Politic.