Art in the Big Apple

Friday morning, 6am. 21 students and 3 teachers depart for New York City. With only a few having previously been to NYC, an air of anticipation would have permeated our consciousness’ had we not been unconscious the moment we hit our seats.

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The first and only stop of the day was Rockefeller Centre where we ascended to one of the highest vantage points in NYC. From the Top of the Rock the beauty, expansiveness and density of NYC truly hit us.  We then proceeded to Times Square.

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Our first stop on Saturday was the Museum of Modern Art. The thing that stood out most about this museum was the amount of works that we recognized; from Munch’s The Scream, to a Rothko’s trademark blocks of colour, to van Gogh’s The Starry Night. Seeing these pieces on the internet or printed out gives some taste of the quality of work and emotion captured by the placed pigments but seeing them in person is completely surreal. Being able to see every brush stroke and smudge grants an appreciation and awe unsurpassed by anything else.

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Our second stop at the Whitney Museum was short but impressive. We had the treat of being able to view “Jay Defeo: A Retrospective”. Unlike most exhibits where you may see a few of an artist’s pieces covering only a portion of their work and style, a retrospective gives a much different perspective. By showing all the artist’s work you can really see the changes in style, emotion, and even philosophy of the artist. Our third stop was at the Chelsea Art District closer to downtown NYC. While difficult to navigate for some, Chelsea contained some smaller, more intimate exhibitions.

More intimate than the Chelsea Art District was The Cloisters, our first Sunday stop. This off-site part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art gave us a great look at changes in sculpture and architecture during the Middle Ages. It was very interesting how different one person can be portrayed. Each of the ten sculptures of The Virgin Mary had very different characteristics; from neutral gender/femininity to differences in how maternal she appeared. The architecture from room to room showed great variation in things such as: wall depth/width, window size, ceiling shape and composition, and arch style. These differences reflected the evolving knowledge of how to build soundly as well as evolving taste in the visual characteristic of buildings.

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Our second stop was at St. John the Divine Cathedral. The building’s size itself would have been enough to leave most speechless but on top of that, the entire build was a work of art; almost every inch being covered by some design, sculpture or stain-glass window. Inside was every bit as breathtaking as the outside with huge pillars reaching stories up and the stain-glass taking on its full display of colours. Next to the cathedral was The Peace Fountain, an assortment of different statues with some made by children surrounding the fountain. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is huge. Absolutely huge. As in I couldn’t possibly put in to words the amount it contained. We only had time to visit a couple of the exhibits. Some of which included Egyptian tombs, a small chronology of popular musical instruments and an After Photoshop exhibit (the artists took old/retro photos and photoshopped them). The Frick collection was set in a beautiful house built by Henry Clay Frick and furnished with key works of art from the renaissance through to the 19th century.

We started our last day with a Staten Island Ferry ride. What the Rockefeller showed us vertically, the ferry showed us horizontally. Looking like the world’s largest game of Tetris stood New York City, and Lady Liberty herself bid us a static farewell.

The NYC trip gave us more than we ever expected. We bonded as a group, experienced a culture shock, and ultimately were inspired and awestricken by the beauty of New York City and everything contained within.

Written By Jacob Toms-Boudreau ’13

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