Anyway, enjoy a review about an art exhibit:
One thing before we begin: this show is, first and foremost, a historical exhibit. If you’re looking for pictures, sketches, or sculptures, there are plenty of other rooms in the Kennedy Museum of Art that display pieces such as these.
That being said, People of Color: A Multicultural Role in History is one of the best history exhibits masquerading as an art show that I have ever seen, not that I have seen many.
There is art here, but it deals more with the layout of the subject than the subject itself. People of Color deals with the history of the Tabler family, who settled in Southeast Ohio in the early 1800s. Michael Tabler, the son of a plantation owner, fell in love with a slave named Hannah. The couple had six children and made their way to Rome Township in Athens county. Over the years, the descendents of this family had families of their own, mixing with various nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. The exhibit ends with the modern-day descendents of the Tablers.
People of Color is laid out in mostly chronological order, truly simulating a journey through time. Especially effective at the beginning of the exhibit is the use of silhouettes used as "pictures" of Michael Tabler, Hannah, and their children. Such images would most likely have been used in the era before cameras, and so this display lends authenticity to the show. Proceeding through the first section are other remnants of life in the area during this early period. Old beams and machinery parts from grain mills, as well as early county maps draw the observer into the life of this first generation.
The next major stage describes the life (and kitchen) of Emily Sims, a woman who married into the Tabler family in the late 1800s. There are a few photos, but the most interesting aspect of the Sims display is the many household items on display. Many of these items have been passed down through many generations since Emily’s day, but each piece still looks pristine- no easy feat for items that are as old as these.
The section entitled "By My Chair" gives a brief overview of the life of Emily Sims’ daughter, Elsie. Here we have the closest thing to true artwork displayed in People of Color. Hanging on the wall is a quilt called simply, "Lady in Blue". It is a relatively simple piece, yet by no means drab. It is obvious that the quilt has been lovingly cared for, looking almost new despite its age noted on a display card. The simple, no-frills display further pushes the idea affirmed by so many around the world- the quilt is truly an American art form, one that is accessible to anyone. Indeed, although she might have denied it, Elsie Tabler was an artist in her own right.
The rest of the exhibit winds its way through various subjects, such as the participation of the Tabler family in armed conflict ranging from the Civil War to the Korean Conflict, as well as a small display highlighting the Native American ancestors of some modern-day Tabler descendents. The show closes with scenes and artifacts from the life of David Butcher, whose genealogy was the subject of this exhibit.
Overall, this show was a great example of living history, showing that the past is never really the past; it lives on in each of us, as each of us are connected to history through our bloodlines. A strong desire to explore one’s roots is one of the things that an observer may take away from the show; it certainly happened in my case.
But is it art? It could be argued either way, perhaps using a defense that photos of families and everyday objects from years ago are part of an "art of life". However, I don’t feel that this was so. I came expecting artwork, and what I got was a history lesson.
Not that this is cause for complaint. History is intriguing, never more so than when it is experienced through the eyes of those who lived it. Don’t go to People of Color looking for artwork. Go to see the tapestry of the American melting pot illustrated before your eyes.
Damn, I was really on my game the day I wrote this. I love it when I'm on my game...
And double points to those who spotted the X Japan reference.