Tell us a little bit about yourself - your background, major program of study, reasons for taking this trip, and anything else interesting you want to share) maybe something people might not know about you.)
Hello my name is Roxanne Charles. I am currently completing a double major in Fine Arts and General Studies at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. This summer I am working towards completing my minors in Art History and Anthropology. I am a multi-media artist who works in a variety of mediums ranging from performance to installation works. I also have a strong interest in working within my local community. I currently sit on the arts and cultural advisory committees for The City of Surrey, The City of White Rock, as well as the board for Semiahmoo Arts. I was also recently re-elected for my second term on council for Semiahmoo First Nation where I hope to build a strong arts, language, and culture program. This is my third field school through KPU and I was fortunate enough to participate in the 2012 Paris/Germany Fine Arts Field School (see Roxanne's blog post from that trip). I was not sure that I would be able to participate again, however, as soon as I heard that Dorothy and Nancy were interested in opening up the trip to alumni students, I jumped on the opportunity. I am a hands-on learner so I feel that the field schools have benefited me a great deal. From each trip I take away new knowledge, insight, life experience, and memories that I would not have otherwise.
What has met or exceeded your expectations or surprised you about New York so far?
I was not quite sure what to expect when thinking about this trip to New York. I am not really a big city person nor do I like industrial spaces. However, my experience here has been great and I really enjoy the live performances and musicians that can be found in the local parks, subways, and large sidewalks. There is so much to do and see in New York that even in our two weeks there is no way to even come close to seeing half of it. I have enjoyed sketching in the public spaces and exploring the museums as well as taking adventures outside the city. The best part of my trip so far was escaping the fast pace of the city and exploring Coney Island. It was so refreshing to be away from the tall buildings and enjoy the carefree vibe of the amusement park, sandy beaches, boardwalk, and beautiful ocean. I could have probably spent a full two weeks there. There are so many great memories about that day. Dancing on the boardwalk with amazing friends and classmates, eating fresh clam strips, trying snickers ice cream and getting my fortune told by Zoltar!!!!!! (the wish granter from the movie Big). This has been a wonderful trip and surely one I will never forget.
Give us some insight into your assigned artwork from the Museum of Modern Art. Who is the artist? When was this work made? What is the content of this work? In what context and as part of what art movement was it made?
The artist I was assigned is Rirkrit Tiravanija, who is an international Thai artist who has studied in Canada and New York. He was born in Argentina and travelled a great deal for his father’s work. He is an installation artist whose work incorporates elements of performance and is associated with the Fluxus movement. I had not known of Tiravanija's work prior to this assignment. I was surprised because I had actually made a piece in open studio previously that was very similar in scale, medium, and presentation. I silkscreened imagery and text over local newspapers. After researching his work further, I found his previous work and installations very interesting. One of his pieces turned the gallery space into a soup kitchen. I enjoyed this concept because it incorporates the viewers into the piece as well as heightens their experience within the gallery. His piece The Days of This Society Is Numbered (2014) was also used by the Gap in releasing a line of T-shirts. Many people criticize the grammatical error rather then looking at the various layers of the piece. For me, I could not help but think of the fact that America is estimated to have over 85,000 tons of nuclear waste by 2030. I am not too sure what his intentions behind the piece are but I feel like the statement is extremely accurate and it speaks volumes that people overlook the broad statement and pick out the grammatical errors and make criticism rather than engage in conversation.
After seeing your assigned work in person (and any other related art from the same artist or art movement associated with the assigned work), what struck you most, and/or how did the artwork's form, content, and context shift for you when seeing it?
After seeing Tiravanija’s work at the MoMA, I was very impressed with the scale of the piece but could not help wishing I was there for his previous soup kitchen installation. I spend a lot of time with the piece, sketching out the work and trying to decode the messages within the text. Tiravanjja's piece is the first artwork one sees upon entry to the contemporary gallery space and is part of a recent acquisitions exhibition made by the MoMA's New York Committee On Drawing and Prints Fund. The background text is taken from a Thai newspaper commemorating King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 85th Birthday, with a large black-stenciled painting that reads "The Days Of This Society Is Numbered.” The intentional grammatical error seems to frustrate people and I have even heard people dismiss the work because of it. I was also interested in finding meaning within the text; however, the newspaper is not in English, so I attempted to look for symbology. I believe each person will have a very different reading of the piece as the viewer brings his or her own life experiences and interpretations to it. I was also fortunate enough to view Yoko Ono’s exhibition on the top floor of the MoMA when I was there. Her work is also Fluxus. It was a very interesting day and an enjoyable experience watching people interact with works and create performances with in a gallery setting space as large as the MoMA.
Today's activity was at the Brooklyn Museum in East Brooklyn. What were your impressions of this part of New York after learning about if first in the pre-departure classes? What will you take away of the experience of this day? What are the most memorable moments for you?
Today we went to the Brooklyn Museum. I was very impressed with the museum and how the shows were curated. I believe they had some incredibly powerful works in the museum. I got to see works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kehinde Wiley, and Zanele Muholi (a South African artist and advocate for lesbian and gay rights). I found Muholi’s works the most moving and inspirational. Muholi's large installation of works showcase video, photographs, testimonials, statistical data collection as well as beaded news print and a plexiglass coffin. Her work addresses the escalation of violent deaths and rapes that are happening to the gay and lesbian community in Cape Town, South Africa. I found this exhibition particularly moving and it gave me a great deal of respect for the work that the Brooklyn Museum is doing to advocate for lesbian and gay rights. I recently watched a movie on Netflix called God Loves Uganda and it discusses some of the issues being faced by the gay and lesbian community because Uganda recently passed a law in 2009 making it illegal to be gay or lesbian. The film is very powerful and I think everyone should watch it. It shows how Christian values and the idea of a righteous truth are adding to violence and hatred. Khinde Wiley's pieces were also quite stunning to see in person as well as catching a glimpse into the mind and journals of Jean-Michel Basquiat. I would say that the Brooklyn Museum was one of my favourite museum experiences and next time I will spend a lot more time there. I was also very thankful that it was an incredible day that day and I got to have a nice walk from the museum through Brooklyn and then over the Brooklyn Bridge. I really enjoyed the peace, reflection, and solitude followed by some amazing street performances down by New York’s city hall.