Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pop! Goes the Art

I generally try not to analyze art as I really know nothing about it. Furthermore, I've always harboured a suspicion that, like our taste buds, the rods and cones that detect light and colours fire differently person to person.

"Pop Art", on the other hand, I will claim an appreciation of as I usually understand the "pop" aspect of it and have an admiration for those clever and creative enough to take iconic images and apply new meaning.

My shirt today with from Amanda Palmer's "reclaiming the ukulele" campaign. Not an actual branded campaign but a side product of Palmer's really amazing application of the li'l instrument to all the world's problems. In fact, she's composed and recorded this five and a half minute "Ukulele Anthem" (all the lyrics are on the linked page and def worth a read) wherein this "wand of thunder" can free the repression and save the humanity of our world.

The re-emergence of the British wartime propaganda "Stay Calm and Carry On" slogan has been a bit of commercial pop culture genius really. The chaos of the Second World War is very different from the uncertainty of today's world but the result is frighteningly similar. Stress, fear, anxiety and depression are overwhelming sometimes when taking a good look at where our world is heading. The anxiety my students exhibit is almost physically debilitating and very much an obstacle to learning. Studies show that for some people, just living a day-to-day existence is resulting in symptoms of PTSD. Furthermore, strategies for resilience and relaxation need to be explicitly taught now where they were once naturally stumbled upon by most. And even those of us who are good at self-monitoring for stress levels, need a reminder now and then.

The inside of my front door
So, like Dory in Finding Nemo, we need to "Just keep swimming" and, like Pearl Jam sings...

 "Just Breathe"

My good buddy, and newly-minted hubby and papa, Sonny Assu makes art. In fact, he creates Art. He brings into existence amazing works, in a variety of media, that marry a sense of his past and history with his present-mindedness. He incorporates popularly recognizable images and historically commercial icons in his pieces that address personal and contemporary issues of race, environment, society and governance. Last week, the Vancouver Art Gallery added his work (along with the work of six other "young B.C. artists") to their permanent collection, years after the National Gallery of Canada and the Museum of Anthropology at UBC acquired his work. ;) So it's about freakin' time.

What I really get out of Sonny's accomplishments personally is that his exhibitions remind me that spending time in art galleries can't be rushed. Thanks to his ever-impressive successes, I make time to go and admire and think about the works in the galleries. And, sometimes, when Life feels like the brake-line's been cut, a moment of beauty will make me stop, really STOP, and just breathe it in and hopefully that image will be there later when I need a internal moment of calm.