Creative Services Manager Emily Wilson writes about an Art History/English field trip to The Warehouse.
The Nasher Sculpture Center, one of the most well-known museums of downtown Dallas—and one of my favorite Saturday destinations—is currently showing a collection entitled Return to Earth, where, among many works shown, Picasso explores the theme of erasing the line between art and life. In one demonstration, he ate a fish down to the bone, then moments later, used that bone pattern for mark-making and line articulation in his ceramics.
Little did I know that I would see this very phenomenon thrive among Greenhill students two days later, and be introduced to a secret, almost hidden gallery two times the size of the Nasher.
Enter The Warehouse. A nondescript gray industrial building scant blocks away from Greenhill, housing some of the most extraordinary postwar Modern and contemporary art of our time. A private venture of collectors Howard Rachofsky and Vernon Faulconer, it is only open to four types of visitors: curators, critics, scholars, and students.
On November 5 and 6, Art History teacher Becky Daniels and English teacher Joel Garza brought their classes to this vast gallery space to take in the power of art in a profoundly theoretical and physical way.
Focusing on Japanese art from the 50s, 60s and 70s, students had previously studied the Gutai movement, which involved postwar reactionary thinking of decay or destruction revealing inner life, beauty and transformation. With this came a freedom of movement and action in art. Shozo Shimamoto, a prolific artist of the time who just died this year wrote, “I believe that the first thing we should do is to set paint free from the paintbrush… It is only once the paintbrush has been discarded that the paint can be revived.”
First, students took time to move throughout the space and pick a work that spoke to them. Then, they spent introspective time with their piece and wrote a “re-vision”, as Mr. Garza describes, a written reaction to art without the need for description, boundaries or structure. (Scroll down to read junior Rachel Davis’ inspiring re-vision.)
In a final exercise, students became physically involved. Mimicking Shimamoto’s technique of throwing glass bottles of paint against rocks, they threw egg shells filled with paint against a rock-filled canvas.
Our Upper School students, who moments before were cerebrally involved in quiet, contemplative gallery space were now taking aim, throwing intently, laughing, moving their entire bodies in the pitch—experiencing catharsis. The contrast was definitive and gratifying.
In the footsteps of greats like Picasso and Shimamoto, Greenhill students erased that line—moving, breathing, creating and living within art.
Thank you to Thomas Feulmer and Francisco Moreno for their insight and guidance in organizing this event for us!
Learn more about The Warehouse here: http://www.thewarehousedallas.org.
The Three Eyes of Polyphemus
By Rachel Davis
Polyphemus saw us first as children, as a king might
see his subjects. We were barbarians, sheep
were we, and with a passing interest
he spied us
and paid us no mind.
Then he bent to our level and saw us again
and this time we were friends, perhaps,
or else amusing to see,
and we gave him sweet wine
and left him, wide-eyed and merry
too drunk to stand
and then Polyphemus fell
he had no eye to see by
but he saw us all the same
saw the truth of us through the haze
of wine and blood,
and what that truth was we do not know
because, the deed done, the fight won, we fled his cave
and nobody turned to ask him
what he had seen.