Trish has been here once before but it was all new to me. We wandered down the hallway past favorite paintings of her’s. This led us to the Asian Art Exhibit where we saw beautiful cloisonné, screen paintings and clay sculptures of gods and warriors. Having done a Haniwa sculpture in my 3-D art class in college I really enjoyed seeing these.
There was so much to see and I wanted to see it all, so I made the mistake of hurrying because I knew our time was limited. We strolled through European Art, Latin Art, and American Art. We investigated the Thorne Rooms which is a collection of Miniature rooms depicting period furniture and architecture from real rooms in the United States and Europe.
My other favorite experience that I will remember for a long time was another installation piece entitled “You Who are Getting Obliterated by Fireflies” by Yayoi Kusama. We had to wait in line at the open door to this blackened room. A guard stood at the door and only let 2 people in at a time. It was so dark that Trish and I couldn’t see and we grasped each other’s hands as we entered. After waiting a moment to adjust to the darkness we opened our eyes in a room painted totally black with mirrors on all four walls that reflected the LED lights suspended by cables at varying heights from the ceiling. The tiny lights constantly changed colors and the description outside said it was to give you the impression of walking through a filed full of fireflies on a summer’s evening, but for me, I felt like I was transported to the heavens and I was walking among the stars. I had no sense of balance or the feeling of the floor beneath my feet because everything is thrown off by the repetition of the mirrors. My emotions were heightened as we crossed through the darkness unsure of the exit point. I’m not sure I wanted out but I felt the pressure of others waiting in line behind us, so we exited back into the bright light of reality and went on our way.
My last moment of delight was discovered just before we left the Museum in the Harnett Modern Art Gallery. It isn’t big or impressive; in fact, it is quite small. I almost walked right by it as it was displayed in a glass case in the center of the room. We came around a corner from behind and all I saw was the back of a box with newspaper or something decoupaged onto the back of it. I really didn’t pay it much attention until I was across the room and I saw other people looking at the front of it. It was as I crossed to see for myself that it occurred to me what was before me. It was a Joseph Cornell box. Cornell was an artist I studied in college. He lived in New York City and never travelled far from his home though it was his great desire to travel. He was bound there by the need to care for his ailing mother, and handicapped brother, so he would create these scenes inside of wooden boxes that he found. They weren’t dioramas of places but more like memories of imaginings or collections of dream and longings. Favorite themes of his were birds, butterflies, the ballet, and France. His style of art is known as assemblage and this particular box, though untitled by the artist, is one of many known as “Soap Bubble Set.” For me, it was the first time to see his work in real life and not in a book or on the Internet. I was thrilled.