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Seattle Art Museum, Contemporary Art Exhibit

Essay by   •  February 4, 2019  •  Research Paper  •  2,239 Words (9 Pages)  •  15 Views

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1.  Secretary II, 1972
[pic 1][pic 2][pic 3][pic 4][pic 5]

Seattle Art Museum, Contemporary Art Exhibit

Clint Brown, American, Born 1941

2.  A)  “What Awaits”

Possibly if someone were to take a quick look at this art piece they may not notice the women’s eyes and eyelashes. The eyelashes are very over-sexualized and bursting out of the art piece. But the eyes are in a dead haze, half open; giving the idea the women are half asleep in the mindless situation they are in or maybe the eyelids are pulled down from the weight of the lashes symbolizing the weight of only being a sex commodity and having to keep up with the society’s ideal of “sexy” to retain employment.

Something I did not notice at first is that the women are twins; they are mirror images of each other. They do not have individual physical characteristics, they are generic attractive women to possibly represent the universal generic ideals of sexy and how we as a society do not appreciate individual beauty, but one type of beauty women have to conform to.

B)  “What Hides.”

What hides is the money printed behind them, it’s in acrylic paint, stamped over and over again, behind the twin women, taunting them. What hides in the style Clint Brown used is the stamping of the dollar bills provides an accurate betrayal of the creation of money, as it’s literally just printed and stamped quickly when it’s made without any personal connection, both literally in making money but also figuratively in the creation of wealth in a capitalistic society.

There are four hidden Hellenistic Greek style murals of women undressing directly behind the twins’ heads, again in acrylic paint, stamped. Most would miss this; it's purposely stamped lightly in a hue similar to the “wall” color. This representing the constant yet hidden sexual images we are exposed to and that sex is always in between the lines of social dialogue dating back from before the beginning of civilization.

The last thing that is hidden is the masculine shadow figure in the center of the painting that looms over the women. The artist purposefully painted this figure in a contrasting hue from the rest of the art piece to invoke the hidden emotion of fear the figure represents and creates in women. He deliberately puts this in the back and above the women representing that men may not always be the face of what is going on but are what is behind pulling the strings; and that women continuously have to have men in the back of their minds, not for romantic reasons, but to be aware of the danger and power that men hold.

3.  A)  Knowledge Gaps

I know what the piece overall represents intellectually. But I’ve never had an office job and been sexually harassed in that context before; because of this I don’t have the experiential knowledge of the piece, I can only infer as deep as my reflective intelligence can go. Many people will only be able to infer with reflective intelligence, and many may be closed off from that and choose not to fill in the knowledge gap of this painting.

B)  Intelligence Traps

If people are sloppy in their thinking about this piece they might fall into a trap where this painting appears happy. They may see the bright colors and smiling faces of the women and interpret that this installation represents women's “happy and easy” penetration and participation in the workforce.

People may see the two protruding women and think the main focus of this art piece is the women and it’s explicitly representing something about women. When in reality the art piece is about a system, a capitalistic sexualized system that affects women.

Lastly looking at this painting someone may assume that since this painting is painted in American 1960’s hues, that the painting represents a system that was in the past and not persisting into modern times when that is not the case. This system that exploits and sexualizes women in the workforce and the double standard it upholds for women persists if not more than ever.

4.  A)  Giving Looking Time

The way I gave this piece looking time is by simply looking at it for a long time and again at two different periods of time. When I first saw the painting, I quickly looked at it, jotted down my first interpretations of what I saw. Then I want back over the painting looking at it for three minutes, continuously, then I rewrote down what I saw and my new thoughts and feelings that were evoked. Then I gave the painting time, I walked around the art museum and looked at other pieces to let the art piece sit in the back of my mind and “settle in.” Revisiting the art piece, I re-looked at it quickly and then relooked at it slowly again very slowly (see making looking organized). Looking at the art for sporadic and differing amounts of time and again at multiple times allowed me to look at it through a different lens, one more rushed only grasping what the artist wants us to grasp at first and then again slowly to see what the artist wants to sneak in and truly show us. Looking at the painting at times apart allowed me to see it with semi-fresh eyes, so I didn’t approach it with my preconceived interpretations but seeing it with a virgin perspective.

B)  Making Looking Broad and Adventurous

I looked at this piece broad and adventurous by allowing myself to feel whatever emotions came up and I wrote down what I felt to help spark imagination and help me delve deeper into my thoughts. This art piece made me reflect about the power and fear that men hold over women for sexual gain. I reflected on times where I felt powerless or afraid by a man and how my experiences were negatively altered for someone else's enjoyment. I reflected on how it will happen again. I reflected on times where I lashed out at my boyfriend not for something he did but because of what he represents and what he would never relate to in my own experience. This art piece made me venture into how I could possibly put into words and express my experience to him, how I came up short, and how that made me feel angry that I can't come up with ways to convey how men might feel powerless beyond the bounds of childhood. I started to venture into what the man behind the twins might be thinking, his motivation and men's motivations into persisting and maintaining a sexist system. Mostly this art piece made me venture into a ball within myself, really scared about the world that awaits, how bad it is to be sexualized but also how bad it is and what it means not to be.

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