If the Pokémon Company’s video teasing its upcoming collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum was already enough to have you thinking about booking a ticket to Amsterdam, the promise of an impressionistic Pikachu promo card might just do the trick.
Who gets to call themselves an artist? Is it Chippy Aiton and Jon Barry, who need assistance to hold their arms up while painting? Is it Terrance Barr, who is partially blind, feeling his way around clay? Is it people who can create for a maximum of 20 minutes a day, or only those who are able to sit and work for hours?
differently various opens with an interrogation of what defines an artist and who that definition excludes in an industry that is overwhelmingly white, middle-class and non-disabled. The grand finale of a five-year partnership between the Barbican and brain injury charity Headway East London, the exhibition is thought to be the largest ever created by people with a brain injury, displaying 124 works by more than 70 artists.
It isn’t surprising that its participants are asking this question, as the politics around supporting and platforming disabled art can be painstaking. Several accessibility measures have been put into place for this show, such as a temporary ramp at the entrance and communication cards (though there is no Braille nor mention of wearing masks), but they will mostly be gone when differently various finishes.
This calls into question: if many disabled people can’t even enter galleries, how can we be considered to display our works in them? Simply through the privilege of existing in a mainstream space with a ramp, this exhibition feels like a small step forward on a long road towards equity for disabled artists and art fans.
differently various takes the viewer through four journeys: Experience, Learning, Creativity and Community. Initially we are confronted by images evoking a sense of despair, depicting the harsh realities of what it’s like to live in a world hostile to disability and in bodies that don’t perform how they used to. In Mike Hoyle’s installation The Seven Demons of Disability we see colourful plastic spines with skull heads at the top, one of which contains a brain that has been split in two, representing injury. In Billy Mann’s My Stroke, he writes of his debilitating experiences on a collection of five paintings. One piece describes rehab as “maybe it is more than I deserve. Maybe”.
Chris Miller’s painting Me as Venus reimagines Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus with an image of his own body, questioning standards around beauty, perfection and disability. Elsewhere we find Lawrence’s Language, a 15-metre scroll of colourful pencil scribbles and doodles by Lawrence Carroll, whose main method of communication is through blinking.
The artists on display have chosen different media forms – from narrative video to oil paint, pencil, papier-mache and huge, cross-stitched canvases draping the room – to share their stories of how they acquired their brain injuries, personal moments in their rehabilitation journeys, what it has been like moving through the pandemic as a person with a brain injury and what community means to them.
It is at times uncomfortable to read the personal stories scrawled across imagery and in the video content on display. Tales that so viscerally illustrate people coming to terms with loss and grieving the body they used to have, and that so brutally and colourfully depict the imperfect world in which we live. But as you move around the tight curve into the expansive section of the gallery, you are also greeted by joyful art that reimagines and celebrates. Take Tirzah Mileham’s pen and ink drawings When Women and Fish Ruled the World, or the joyful collaborative embroidery and applique Sister Stitch, in which seven artists depict sisterhood and community.
Through differently various, a collective has found a space to express themselves and push boundaries. Their work is sometimes ugly, sometimes beautiful, often both, and in each case prompts a rollercoaster of thought and emotion. Isn’t that the true definition of artistry?
Downtown Kingston’s fall Art After Dark ‘biggest one yet’
Art After Dark returns to downtown Kingston this Friday as art galleries and art-loving businesses open their doors and invite patrons to browse and buy some of the best in local art.
Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, from 7 to 10 p.m., art enthusiasts are invited to wander, chat, and maybe start or add to their personal collections. While the public is taking in the beautiful art and meeting fascinating local artists, they can also enjoy light refreshments, friendly conversation, and compelling displays at art galleries and in local shops in the downtown core.
“The eagerly-awaited fall edition of Art After Dark promises to be the biggest one yet, as attendees embark on a free walking tour of more than 20 participating studios, galleries, and art-loving businesses downtown,” the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (BIA) said in a media release dated Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023.
“Art After Dark is a beloved community event that celebrates the talent and creativity of local artists and the dynamic arts scene in Kingston,” the BIA continued. “This year’s fall edition brings an array of new and exciting experiences that will inspire and entertain.”
In the release, the BIA shared details on what attendees can expect this year:
- Artistic Adventure: Explore the heart of Kingston’s artistic community on a captivating walking tour. Visit studios, galleries, and art-centric businesses throughout downtown Kingston, where you can engage with artists, view their latest works, and even purchase unique pieces to add to your own collection.
- Art After Dark Outdoor Lounge: New for this year’s event is the Art After Dark Outdoor Lounge, in partnership with The Caesar Company. Located on Sydenham Street (between Princess and Queen), this outdoor oasis will provide a cozy and relaxed atmosphere for attendees to unwind and socialize. Sip on specialty drinks, listen to live music, and plan your next stop on the Art After Dark walking tour.
- $500 Grand Prize Draw: While you enjoy Art After Dark, enter to win $500 towards the purchase of original artwork. Each gallery you visit offers another chance to win. Contest details will be available at all participating stops.
Art After Dark is a family-friendly event that welcomes art enthusiasts of all ages. For seasoned art collectors or those simply curious about Kingston’s thriving art scene, this event offers something for everyone, the BIA noted, adding that attendees must be 19+ to enter the Outdoor Lounge.
Pokémon are coming to the Van Gogh Museum to teach the world about art
In celebration of the Van Gogh Museum’s 50th anniversary, it has teamed up with the Pokémon Company for a special event designed to introduce young artists to Van Gogh’s work, and to teach people about the way he was profoundly influenced by Japanese art.
“This collaboration will allow the next generation to get to know Vincent van Gogh’s art and life story in a refreshing way,” the Van Gogh Museum’s general director Emilie Gordenker said in a press release. “The Van Gogh Museum and The Pokémon Company International have drawn on many years of educational expertise to create a special experience for children, their supervisors, and we hope many others at the Van Gogh Museum.”
Along with on-site activations that guide museum visitors through a selection of Van Gogh’s paintings and delve into the stories behind them, an online exploration of his fascination with Japanese culture will also be available. Along with on-site activations that guide museum visitors through a selection of Van Gogh’s paintings and delve into the stories behind them, an online exploration of his fascination with Japanese culture will also be available.
Even if you can’t make it to the actual museum to snag a ‘Pikachu with Grey Felt Hat’ card in-person, the promos will also be available through the Pokémon Center included in orders from a special collection inspired by the collaboration. But for those looking to make a trip of it, the Pokémon x Van Gogh Museum collaboration is set to run from September 28th until January 7th, 2024, and tickets for general admission to the museum (which are required to get in and can only be purchased online) are available now.
A Cartoonist Appreciates the Art at the Metropolitan Museum – The New Yorker
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