EXHIBITION: ​​New Age, New Age: Strategies for Survival

April 25 – August 11, 2019
DePaul Art Museum
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​​New Age, New Age: Strategies for Survival is an exhibition of work from the last fifteen years by contemporary artists who appropriate, critique, or embrace “New Age” aesthetics and concerns from a 21st century perspective. Emerging in the 1960s and 1970s against a backdrop of war, social strife and a crisis of modernity, the multifaceted New Age “movement” was characterized by alternative approaches to traditional Western culture, with an interest in spirituality, mysticism, holism, and environmentalism. It embodied a complicated conflation of politics, religion, science, social communities, art, music, and self-realization. Often dismissed for its association with drugged out hippies or flower-power children, how can New Age philosophies and practices be reconsidered today as relevant movement for social change and wellness?

Artists include:
Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, Lise Haller Baggesen, Alun Be, Elijah Burgher, D. Denenge Duyst-Akpem, Whit Forrester, Desirée Holman, Cathy Hsiao, Michiko Itatani, Rashid Johnson, Marva Lee Pitchford-Jolly, Jenny Kendler, Liz Magic Laser, Matt Morris, Shana Moulton, Heidi Norton, Tony Oursler, Mai-Thu Perret, Robert Pruitt, Bob Ross, Luis A. Sahagun, Mindy Rose Schwartz, Suzanne Treister, Rhonda Wheatley, Megan Whitmarsh and Jade Gordon, Saya Woolfalk​

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GAGE, J: Color and Meaning: Art, Science, and Symbolism

John Gage. Color and Meaning: Art, Science, and Symbolism. University of California Press, 1999. ISBN: 0520226119. Unmarked text. Very Good. Paperback. (#29897) $16.00

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Book Review by Amy Ione: The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World

Reviewed by Amy Ione, January 2018

Although creating a mess is not qualitatively the same as creating an original mathematical equation, what the word ‘creating’ denotes in each case is nonetheless clear. I cannot answer why we easily comprehend the meaning in both instances, but I do know that creativity’s amorphous and multidimensional reality is tantalizing even if our use of the word spans a spectrum of activities. In terms of discovery and human psychology, a good touchstone is a graphic that the creativity researcher Robert Sternberg put together titled “Cognitive Characteristic of Creative Persons” [1]. In it he summarizes the views of 16 authors who contributed to an anthology he edited on this subject in 1988. One striking feature of the chart is that each author stressed multiple traits and yet no single trait was postulated by every one of the renowned contributors. Among them were Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, Howard Gardner, Howard Gruber, and Dean Simonton. Equally striking 30 years later is that the distribution of the 20 relevant characteristics they identified seems dated now. Nine of the experts, the second highest number for any trait, argued for specialization (or creativity in a particular domain) in 1988. Given the emphasis on transdisciplinary work in the 21st century, I would guess that this factor would not rank as high today. By contrast, the top characteristic, stressed by 11 of the 16 authors, seems to still hold. This is the use of existing knowledge as a basis for new ideas. Even so, at under 70% it was nonetheless not universally chosen.
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Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature (Book Review)

Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature
by Alva Noë

Reviewed by Amy Ione
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Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature endeavors to, as Alva Noë the author puts it, introduce art as “its own manner of investigation and its own legitimate source of knowledge” (p. xii) using the enactive approach that he has been working with for a number of years. According to this view, “experience is something we enact or perform; it’s not something that happens in us or to us” (p. 215), “it is something we do, or make, or achieve. And like everything else we achieve, we do so only against the background of our skills, knowledge, situation, and environment, including our social environment” (p. xii). His basic philosophical argument is that we can only understand the human mind in relation to bodily actions given that our experience is situational. Within this he claims that our lives are structured by organization and because art is a practice for bringing our organization into view, it reorganizes us.

When we consider art, Noë tells us, there are two levels we need to keep in mind. On the one hand, the defining feature of what he terms Level-1 activities is that they are basic and involuntary modes of organization. On the other hand, Level-2 activities play with and re-shape level-1 activities. The sum total is that active human experience is neither personal consciousness nor subpersonal (autonomic) consciousness. It is not personal because it is interactive and (again) situational activities add meaning to our lives in a way that does not reduce to subpersonal (autonomic) consciousness. Since technologies are a part of how we reorganize our lives, and art is an engagement with technologies, art includes a second-level manner of organization/reorganization.

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