Contemporary arts make more sense to me than almost everything else on this planet. Contemporary artists interact with the world through creative inquiry, determined to make meaning of complex issues or at least expose us (the rest of the world) to better questions, deeper thinking and more meaningful analysis of the world around us and how to engage with it.
We all deserve to have more art in our lives. You need art and your children need art! And not just arts and crafts but contemporary art! Yes, they need a trip to the museum or the theater to consume massive amounts of art. Then they need time, space, and supplies to recreate, activate and immerse in arts based experiences.
1) They draw you in. Let me start with my current obsession: Hamilton, An American Musical. Hamilton the Musical, is Lin Manuel Miranda’s artistic take on Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton. It is a love letter to hip hop, an incredibly moving piece of choreography, and an unforgettable execution of artistry casting the global majority to tell the stories of our founding fathers. This contemporary take on history is a creative call to understand our past so that we can understand our future. #riseup
2) You think better about everything! When your child consumes art and then gets to make art, they develop the capacity to think better about everything. That’s because artist develop mental dispositions that foster their ability to be creative critical questioners. Academia has actually researched this. It’s called Studio Habits of Mind and they are habits that evoke a deeper metacognitive process to develop skills, capacity and will to engage with the world.
3) The world is illuminated. Contemporary artists take us down paths to understand more fully who we are as humans. If you sit with art pieces long enough you begin to see reflections of you in that space. If you allow yourself to be more fully immersed with pieces that speak to you, you develop a deeper sense of why it’s meaningful to you and what you are, want or care to be. When we more fully understand ourselves we illuminate this world. We are illuminated. We are more connected. There is an undeniable energy shift when we allow ourselves to be engrossed in art that gets us to these spaces of quality questions, believing, trusting and growing into who we are.
I offer you a look into the contemporary artists that are trending in my consciousness right now and I hope you and your children will be moved by them and compelled to get to know your own favorite artists!
1) Ai Wei Wei: A Chinese born artist, Ai Wei Wei questions the world so magnificently that you can’t turn your head without being affected. He is an art activist for human rights exposing the injustices found around our globe.
2) Kara Walker: Kara Walker defines racial injustice through collective memory, drawing upon the assaults of 400 years of oppression. What child wouldn’t want to stand below a towering sphinx made of sugar and ask “why?”
3) Mark Bradford: Mark Bradford’s work takes me to emotional places I haven’t seen inside me. He speaks to the suffering of communities through the majesty of intricate lines, shapes, and penetrating color.
4) Constance Moore: I love this artist! She’s my personal friend and shero. Her current pieces of art investigate the relationship of things as they relate to each other and as they relate to us, essentially.
5) Oscar Munoz: Oscar investigates memory, our ancestors and our interaction with time. I love how he allows you to breathe the ancestors into frame-literally.
6) Stan Douglas: Stan recreates historical depictions of riots and crowds in such a compelling way that you are left stunned and wanting to know absolutely more about what just happened and what happened afterwards. He’s a master storyteller of the moment.
7) Tongo Eisen-Martin: A personal friend of mind so I could be biased here but Tongo creates poetry so profound you have to allow yourself to sit with each phrase, like sipping ice tea on the porch in summertime. And when you’ve made meaning of his words you want to get up and devote the rest of your life to the cause, if you haven’t already.
8) Wangechi Mutu: You humble yourself in the site of Wangechi’s pieces. She absorbs surreal fantasies with afrofuturistic visions to complete visual pieces that respond to the caves of your imagination waiting to be invited to the table.
Stay tuned for the next blog on ideas for emulating these artists to kickstart the art inquiry and artist's habits in your home!
Photo of Constance Moore's "Black and White."