summer vacation

Summer is winding down and we'll be back to school soon! I just got back from an inspiring trip through Tennessee. We took our time to visit the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis, Hatch Show Print in Nashville, and Yee Haw Industries in Knoxville!

We choose an art destination each summer to plan our vacation and this year we took a drive through Tennessee to visit the Knoxville Museum of Art to see the first solo show of Ai Weiwei outside of New York in the United States. It was one of the most thought provoking shows I've experienced and well worth the trip.

Ai Weiwei has been an outspoken critic of the Chinese government but it still came as a shock to the international community when he was detained and only recently released. Read more about this at www.freeaiweiwei.org. His work as an artist and architect is substantial and I hope that he is allowed (or finds a way) to continue his important work.

Dropping the Urn is the name of the traveling exhibition. It features Ai Weiwei's work from 1993 to the present. The show's namesake is based on this series of larger than life photographs of his performance art in which he calmly drops a Han dynasty vessel onto the ground. It evokes so many questions/ideas about culture, economy, and art. I found the reference to the Cultural Revolution to be especially interesting. Mao Zedong commanded his Red Guards "to smash bourgeois inclinations."

The famous sunflower seeds! A similar pile recently went at auction for over half a million dollars. This one ton pile of sunflower seeds are actually individually sculpted and painted porcelain. It took some serious willpower on my part to not dive my hands into that pile!!! This piece brings together culture, economy, metaphor, and craft so beautifully.

Coca-Cola Vase, along with the colorful pots in the photo above, are what I found to be most provocative. These pots are several thousand years old and are now covered in bright acrylic paint and a beautifully painted coca-cola logo. If you think about it, our coca cola cans and bright plastic containers are the equivalent of what these utilitarian pots were in their day. He brings together the handmade and the mass-produced to make us question the very nature of value on so many levels.

The Pink Palace Museum in Memphis offered some mistakenly identified pieces that had been in its collection. If you read the gallery card you'll see that this was a particularly ironic piece considering the intention of my trip to see Ai Weiwei's show! I love the dichotomy of intention.

Happy Summer! I'd love to hear what you've been up to!


Janie B said...

When I was a little girl, I lived about 2 hours west of Memphis. We often went to the Pink Palace. I loved it there, but I haven't been back since I was very young. Hope it's still an inspiring place.

Art at Chesterbrook Academy Elementary School said...

I love his work.
His sunflower project is one of my favorites.

I can see why it was hard not to dive your hands into the pile :)

Shannah said...

Hello Janie:) We LOVED the Pink Palace! Our fifth graders go on an overnight trip to Memphis each year and the Pink Palace was recently added. I had to take my family to see it too!

Marilena, the guard and video cameras were also a deterrent;)

Vicki Smith said...

I left a Sunshine Award for you on my blog!

Shannah said...

Thank you Vicki! I had fun checking out your other sunshine winners too:) Thanks again for the nod!