What’s the Deal with Contemporary Art?

What is contemporary art? Is it a shoe glued to 13 Popsicle sticks tied by a bungee cord over an overcooked pizza bagel? It could be. The real question that must be addressed is, what isn’t contemporary art?

On Thursday, February 23rd, 2017, The Woskob Family Gallery on Allen Street held a Contemporary Art Crash Course. Art Alliance Gallery Downtown manager Kelsey Rieger guided discussion and observation of three of the wonderful pieces of art displayed in the gallery. Basically, the mission of the crash course was to help individuals, who cannot quite grasp the idea of contemporary art, well, grasp that idea a bit better.

‘Con’ in Latin means ‘with’ and ‘tempus’ means ‘the times.’ So, contemporary art literally means Art with the times. Therefore, much of contemporary art tends to be connected to society at the time. It’s a tricky subject that causes a lot of headaches, good and bad, because there is not usually a clear message behind it.

This is okay. It is supposed to make you think, wonder, feel emotion. If a piece of art makes you uncomfortable, that’s probably the point. Not all music creates happiness. People listen to death metal because they want to feel that raw angry emotion. This is the same with contemporary art.

When leading the conversation, Kelsey made it a point to let the attendees say what they were feeling or thinking about when looking at the art. The diversity of observation was interesting. After many observations, everyone would settle on a general theme, or not. That’s the beauty of it.

Without ambiguity, life would be boring. A picture of a horse is fine, but it’s a picture of a horse (No offense to horse enthusiasts). Instead, look at some contemporary art. Fight your stubborn mind’s tendency to just come to a quick conclusion or quit. Stare at that painting of a woman with an abnormally long neck in front of a twisted red and white background or that ceramic suitcase with many hints of gold and bright colored stripes until your feet hurt. Get up close, backpedal back. Look from the right, look from the left.

Even though you may have missed the crash course, check out the Woskob Family Gallery anyway! It’s pretty neat. And hopefully, leave with more questions than you had when you entered the gallery.