My art museum visit was done through Google! With my full-time college load of 18 hours, a family, and a dog, I was unable to physically go anywhere. Luckily, technology is at our fingertips and there are ways to go inside of museums without even being there, and to learn about artists and artwork from the comforts of our own homes! (art and culture project by Google is a great resource!)
I would like to talk about perceptions. We all have different ideas, views, and opinions about anything and everything. When we think of “American Art,” some of us might envision any of the numerous pieces of art that portray American Impressionism. These tend to be very soft, romantic, and they depict Anglo people, usually women.
Others, upon thinking about “American Art,” may think of the very well-known American Gothic, by Grant Wood.
The fact is, “American Art” is as diverse as America! There aren’t just art images of white women sitting in the fields, or country folk trying not to smile. “American Art” does not depict only one view point or genre. It is refreshingly surprising to learn that there are so many different representations of “American Art.” Here are just a few examples of different pieces of important American art, created by Americans, depicting THEIR unique truths:
In this week’s reading assignments, one of my favorite pieces was Gary Soto’s “Like Mexicans.” This was a great story about a young man who grows up in a home where strong opinions shape his views about life, about Mexicans, and about – as his grandmother said – Okies! He was told by everyone that he needed to marry a Mexican girl. Everyone he knew, that was Mexican, married a Mexican. And the ones that didn’t, were portrayed as unhappy.
When he met the love of his life, she was not Mexican. In fact, she was Japanese! The narrator describes his fear and uneasiness when going to her parents’ home to meet them. He was afraid that he would be faced with a pre-conceived reality that her family was so different, in fact, better, than his was.
Fortunately, when he arrived at her home and saw how extraordinarily ordinary her family and home were, he was quite relieved. He had allowed the judgements of others to influence his own views. It wasn’t until he saw things as they were, for himself, that he realized that everything was fine. And ultimately, that although he and his future wife were from very different cultures, backgrounds, languages, and customs, they were more alike than they were different. And he allowed his experiences to stretch his mind and accept that marrying a Mexican girl wasn’t the only way to go.
Assumptions made, whether about art, culture, people, religion, education, etc., are not always correct. As a matter of fact, they tend to be quite skewed. The reality is, once we begin to investigate for ourselves ( like I did with American art), we can break away from the misconceptions and begin to see things for ourselves, as we choose to see them – not as we have been taught to view them.