A Guide To Viewing Art

A Guide To Viewing Art

Ever feel overwhelmed? Some helpful advice to consider on your next museum visit.

There is no wrong or right way to view art, but if you want your viewing experience to be enlightening, here is some advice to consider: you only need two eyes, a bit of patience and an open mind.

A photo of myself walking through Chiharu Shiota's A Key in the Hand Exhibition in the Japanese Pavilion of the Venice Biennale.

Be Present in the Moment. When you visit a museum or gallery, make sure you don't have any distractions. Take time to smell the roses. Let go of daily concerns, and pay attention to the artwork around you. Experience it with all of your senses. In the past, one could only experience art with the eyes, but now there is high art that requires you to use your eyes, nose, touch, hearing and sometimes but very rarely, taste. This requires a lot of focus on your part, but in doing so, you heighten your experience.

The amount of artwork for you to see is endless, so why not enjoy it?

A personal view down the long Vasari Corridor in Florence, Italy.

Put the cellphone down. There is some etiquette to consider when it comes to cellphones for both your own benefit and those around you. A museum bench is not the place for posting or perusing social media. The bench is for contemplating artwork. I once met a museum intern at the National Gallery in London who was beyond frustrated with the hordes of tourists who were more interested in their cellphones than the original artwork hanging on the walls in front of them.

In reality, the two acceptable uses of a cell phones in museums are googling artists or taking photos.

Don't forget to look for this sign when entering an exhibition.

Look through your own eyes. On the subject of photography, don't be too camera happy. Before you enter a museum or gallery, check to see if photography is even allowed. There are some people in this world who view entire art collections through the lens of their cellphone camera. In doing this, they don't get to appreciate the art with their own eyes. Don't be this person. Take the time to look and consider the art. Limit yourself to a few photos a museum visit. This will let you have a more personal experience, and hopefully you will spend more time looking at the work instead of snapping a photo and walking away. Odds are, there are better reproductions online and in the museum gift shop. Of course, a photo can be one of the best memoirs of a moment you had with the work.

There will always be lots of people taking photos in front of famous artworks.

Bring a pen and some paper. Another way to record a moment is to write or draw. I always bring a sketchbook with me when I go to visit a museum. Not only is it useful for recording my experiences, it is also handy for writing down the names of the artists I see. This lets me go back and look at the work later on. Jotting down the thoughts the art provokes allows you to get the most out of your art experience.

This is a photo my friend took of me as I drew from the Belvedere Torso in the Vatican.

Artists want to give their viewers an experience, and a viewer will only get as much from an artwork as he or she is willing to put in. Art is at its very best when it provokes us to have new thoughts and ask questions about the world around us. It is not about how many hours were put into its creation, who made it, or how well it was rendered. Forget the statements "my child could do that" or "I can't draw a straight line" because that is not what art is about. Instead, come with an open mind, and give the art the time and consideration it needs to move you. Some people respond to art with prior knowledge and others with curiosity. It is important to just be yourself because your interpretation is just as important as anyone else's.

In the end, art is everywhere when we open our eyes to see.

This is a piece I saw at the 56th Venice Biennale by Herman de Vries describes both humanity and transformation, but I believe it can refer to all the forms art can take, as well.

Cover Image Credit: Brandon Sweeney

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To the guy that shot my brother...


To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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