Museums Helping Folks Lock Down Artfully

By Ben Hamill - May 20 2020

Museums Helping Folks Lock Down Artfully

Kintsugi is the centuries-old Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold. It’s a method based on the powerful idea that by embracing flaws and imperfections, something stronger than the original design can be created. Something stronger and perhaps most significantly, something more beautiful than before. The essential message is that of reframing a challenge or hardship in such a way that one is reminded that being a victim of circumstance is 100% a matter of choice. And in a way, this is exactly what Canadians; humanity; are dealing with right now. And it’s an opportunity of pure gold not at all lost on some of the world’s most famous museums. 

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Since artists and lovers of art can’t visit museums right now, the next best thing would be to recreate those works of art at home. And the truly brilliant bit is that the art-at-home challenges issued by museums like the Getty and Toronto’s own AGO, involve doing exactly that but instead of using oil on canvas or charcoal on paper, folks are instructed to do what the masters did but with everything readily available at home.

And the results are sheer comedic performance brilliance.

Making Art Out Of The Mundane

Folks are recreating famous works like Parmigianino’s Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror and John William Waterhouse’s Lady of Shalott (who just so happens to now be half-sick of lockdown instead of Waterhouse’s half-sick of shadows!). Everything from the “artist’s” own body to other people, items lying about at home and even beloved pets are being roped in.

The AGO’s challenge seems to have launched hot on the heels of California’s Getty Museum’s version, which has quite incredibly to date inspired well over 24,000 contributions via the museum’s #gettymuseumchallenge hashtag on Twitter.

The instructions are simple: first, choose your favourite artwork; secondly, find three things lying around the house; and third, recreate your favourite artwork using those items. And folks, as the familiar saying goes, are coming to the party.

Look A Little Deeper

But there’s more to the challenge than mucking about trying to recreate art at home because when people resort to using their own bodies, something magical seems to happen. A recurring theme is that of people making mention of a definite sense of “lightness” that is to be had from the act of pretending to be someone else – even if just for a fleeting moment.

Life as we used to know it may be on hold for the moment but in and among all the uncertainty shines radiantly a light that illuminates anew humanity’s (read: ordinary people’s) ability of creating something golden out of a whole lot of chaos and unknowns.

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