drawing in museums

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On Sunday we made a trip to the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery before it closes for several years of renovation to view the many objects that have become familiar friends. I gave myself an assignment to make ten drawings as a way to really look at these objects. Many have not remained static to me but have become altered in their meaning over the last thirty years .

freer-before-inlay.jpgBecause I have looked at them so many times I needed to find a way to slow down so that I could quietly absorb nuances as they were revealed. When drawing I pay attention to details of shadow, surface, contour, and context. I aim for a loose likeness, but I am very accepting of distortion and the interpretation that my hand provides. In some ways the most interesting pots are the hardest to draw because they are such nuanced 3-dimensional objects, alive in rotation so it's hard to visually capture that changing volume without losing something on the 2-dimensional paper.

freer-bottleand-bowl.jpgAfterwards we headed over to visit the Renwick Gallery which was filled to bursting, everyone taking photos of themselves amid the exhibit's objects of "Wonder." I was struck by not only was it a completely different experience of material, but a completely different experience of viewing. There was neither space nor time to absorb the scale or nuance of the work.

freer-korean-vases.jpg"Drawing makes you see things clearer, and clearer, and clearer still. The image is passing through you in a physiological way, into your brain, into your memory - where it stays - it's transmitted by your hands."
--David Hockney (in Martin Gayford, A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney)


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