Tuesday, December 6, 2011

art and joy from weapons and pain?

At the Chicago Art Museum, some of my colleagues wanted to visit the armory section. I went along. It was fascinating to see implements of war in the context of art. There was something artistic about the suits of armor: the intricate designs meant to decorate what was (at its heart) something used to destroy.  I took this photo.

The spears were arranged in a way that felt artistic to me. I have thought about it since: both about the fact that when we see armor and weapons in an art museum we are somewhat removed from the reality of their uses (context is everything, right?) and about the fact that many everyday tools could be thought of as artistic, if we step away from their mundane ubiquity: forks for instance or pens. We add art or style to some items of daily necessity: shoes, for example. Or cell phones.

And since I'm a writing teacher, I think about how writing can be very dreary--almost punishment--for some students and a needed outlet of expression, even a joy, for others. Some of that attitude has to come from us, from the teachers, right? So, do I make spears into art? Do I make pencils fun? It's a question to consider.