Why the fascination?

I’ve always wondered why out of so many other portrait images that are visually pleasing, well composed, and properly lit, Mona Lisa is by far the most recognizable and studied portrait in the world. What was it about this portrait painting that made it so memorable? I just didn’t get it; the lady Leonardo Da Vinci painted wasn’t all that attractive, yet thousands of people stare at her portrait as they admire it.

She sits there with a half- smile. She doesn’t look too happy or too sad. She sits calmly and makes direct eye connect with her observer. Is she saying more than the eye-meets? Does her facial expression say something more? Or is it the way she represented herself for this portrait? What was she thinking, how she was feeling or what did she go through that made this portrait come out the way it did. And why are so many people in the world are fascinated with this portrait?

Wiebke Lesiter states in her article, Mona Lisa on a Bad Day that “imagination modulates the meaning of the face—an effect observable not only in the moving image, but also in real life and in still photographs”(Lesiter, 2010, p.162). Viewers like to assign meanings or interpretations to faces but when we can’t figure out exactly how to interpret something, it confuses us. My understanding is that people are fascinated by the Mona Lisa because we can’t interpret her expression so we stare at her trying to figure out the answers to the questions in our head. A simple question such as if she was happy or sad is hard to read on the Mona Lisa. And this drives the audience crazy in a way. At least it did for me. So I might have brushed the surface of people’s fascination with the portrait.

But what I want to understand now is, do any of the elements that make this portrait so irresistible have anything do to with the lady? Or is it all Di Vinci’s illusion for us observers? Did Da Vinci only “attempt to show the invisible and unrepresentable in a process of translation into the visual to make sense of it (Leister, 2010, p.162)” Is this painting merely a “presentation rather than a re-presentation?







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Wildenhain Exhibit

Helmer explains that absence is about recognizing and speaking of the invisible elements in the different forms of arts shown to us. As Professor Austin had mentioned in his speech on Tuesday, he hand- picked the pieces from the collection he had in hopes to only show the best pieces that represent the whole collection of Wildenhain. This in turn doesn’t allow the audience to really experience the type of ceramist Wildenhain was, the audience only get to see what professor Austin wants them to see. The audience’s knowledge of Wildenhain and his work remains shallow and incomplete after the exhibit.

I feel that in order to understand the art, one need to understand the artist. Although art can affect different people in different ways its basic purpose to me is to tell a story. Stories can also be interpreted differently depending on the reader, but it still tells the same story. Without completely understanding the story, the interpretation of it may not be correct in terms of the author’s intentions. Therefore, in order to understand and appreciate Wildenhain’s ceramics, the viewers need to know and understand Wildenhain and what it took him to make the pieces that he did. In conclusion, I think that the exhibit should have had a mixture of different pieces, not only the best, in order to tell a bigger and more complete story of Wildenhain and his work.

For this week’s analysis I went to the Bevier Gallery. As I was walking into the tiny exhibit, I tried to remind myself to be conscious of my own steps and reactions. The arrangements of the stands and walls definitely guided me through the gallery. I moved through the gallery as they intended for me to and understood why certain pieces were grouped together at their placements. The first few pieces were small and they moved up in size and mass as I walked through the exhibit. At the opposite corner of the entrance, the ‘heart’ of the small exhibit, was the biggest and prettiest pieces. And the pieces started shrinking in size as I exited the gallery.

The lighting of the gallery didn’t add any dramatic effects to the pieces. It allowed the pieces to stand on their own. I thought this concept of the set-up fit well with the collection of hand-made ceramics; its simplicity and honesty.

As someone who has no   knowledge of art, especially ceramics, the exhibit didn’t really interest me as it would others with prior knowledge. I think that when I go to exhibits and galleries, I try to find a way to somehow connect with the artists and the works. That is the only way I really get interested and passionate about exhibits.

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The Tojo Garden

The Tojo Garden is a little Japanese garden located in the courtyard adjacent to Frank E. Gannett Hall. I’ve accidentally walked onto it my first year at RIT and ever since I’ve been stopping by just to get a glimpse of the peaceful garden.

The history of the garden dates back 1964, a promising, young Japanese student—Yasuji Tojo—graduated from the photography program. Tojo was returning from a trip to Washington, D.C., that June, when he was the victim of a fatal car accident.

RIT faculty member Hans Barschel and his wife had developed a friendship with Tojo after spending several holidays together. Barschel proposed the idea of a garden with evergreens and cherry trees to be dedicated in Tojo’s memory on the campus. Tojo’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Usaku Tojo, responded that they wished to donate a stone lantern for the garden to honor their son. The 6-foot-tall Yasuji Tojo Memorial Lantern was hand-carved in Japan out of granite and was to serve as the focal point of the garden dedicated as a living memorial to eternal youth.

Japanese lanterns have many meanings attached to them, including the five elements: earth, water, fire, wind and sky and an association with the sacred flame, representing Buddha. These elemental and spiritual meanings seem fitting for this garden.

The garden itself is a little out of place here at the campus, but it’s sheltered by black pines, paper birch and a Japanese maple tree, along with azaleas, mountain laurel, Japanese iris, vinca and other perennials, in addition there is a stream and a small pond. Small boulders, stones and a pebble path completed the garden. Once you see the garden, it’s like you’ve walked into a different place off of campus. It’s tiny but it feels just enough.


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Bouree 2A4A

This is one of the paintings by Burton Kramer. It’s known as the Bouoree2A4A. I find it very interesting  that his paintings are visual form of music. In this particular painting, he used lot of bright but calm colors. The background color of the painting is red, which most of the time represent passion and love. The whole painting is also framed by white empty space, allowing the viewers to focus on the colors and shapes more closely. Kramer also uses repetition of colors and shapes which gives the sense of harmony and order. One of the things I also noticed in his paintings is that he uses space very well. In this painting, there are about equal amount of space between all the colors and the shapes. This quality adds to the balance of the image without making it chaotic.

When I look at this painting, I understand why it is a visual from of music. Just as music has different types of rhythms, syncopation, tonalities and mood, this painting also has different colors, shapes, lines and space. But when you step back and look at the whole picture, it is easy to understand that all these different elements fit together well to create one image just as one music is created by all the different little musical elements.

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Hello world!

Welcome to my  blog. This blog is created for my Visual Communication class.

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