Welcome to the 3rd of our 12 weeks of Artful Summer!
Art Idea #3 – Miley Cyrus and Ralph Waldo Emerson would have been friends.
Ralph Waldo Emerson died in Massachusetts in 1882. Miley Cyrus was born in Tennessee 110 years later in 1992. Obviously, they never had the chance to meet. But I think they would have been friends.
I can’t help but notice how many inspirational pop songs and rock power ballads sound like modern ways of saying the same things that romantic poets said over a century ago.
OK, minor correction:
Although “it’s the not the destination, it’s the journey” is often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, I can’t find any reference that he actually wrote or said that. Aerosmith did sing “life’s a journey not a destination” in 1993, but that probably wasn’t the first time someone said that. A romantic idea that Emerson did express and that covers similar territory is
- Romanticism – a movement in the arts and literature that originated in the late 18th century, emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy of the individual.
- Glorification of Nature
- Peak period 1800-1850
- Romanticism was a reaction against the order and restraint of classicism and neoclassicism (they preferred Medievalism) and a rejection of the rationalism that characterized the Enlightenment/Industrial Revolution
- 19th century composers: Schubert, Schumann, Liszt, Wagner
- Poets: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats
- Romantic Painters (stylistically diverse): William Blake, J. M. W. Turner, Delacroix, Goya
Romanticism & Realism
Sometimes we need and long for more Realism in our personal or civic lives. When one man pins another man to the ground in an American street and uses his knee to crush the man’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, that isn’t a time for Romantic Fantasies, it is a time for clear-eyed realism.
Other times the burden of reality can be too much. When a global pandemic is infecting millions and killing hundreds of thousands, reality can be too much. We long for a romantic escape into nature and fantasy.
In the 1818 Caspar David Friedrich painting above we see a man facing nature. The sublime. People did and do go on hikes like that all the time. So the painting is not quite a “romantic fantasy.” Still, compared to our lives in the city, or the Long Beach State campus when we used to go there, or isolated in the tiny boxes we call “homes” trying not to contract a deadly virus, the painting above seems almost like a dream. Like some other reality.
Last week I argued that making a Zine can be one great way to express your Identity. This week we’re going to turn it around and rethink our identities.
Which facet of your identity do you present when you get dressed for school? For work? For a family event? For hanging out with friends? Do you use the same vocabulary at a family gathering as you use at a party with friends? Do you show people your young Anakin Skywalker? Or your Darth Vader? Your Hannah Montana? Or your Miley Cyrus?
Take a day this week and dress differently. Whether you’re going out or staying isolated at home, mix up the way you present yourself. Maybe a subtle change. A dramatic change might be even better. If you’re going out you can see how people react to you. If you’re isolated at home, you might be able to Skype or Zoom with someone. If you’re living with family or roommates, you can see how they respond. And you can just see how you feel being in your different look. Looking in the mirror. Taking a selfie.
There are endless ways to change your appearance. In the past, women in Art 110 sometimes wore more makeup. Or some instead of none. Men in Art 110 have sometimes put on a suit. It sounds stereotypical and funny, but when the women wore more makeup, they were often asked, “are you in a sorority?” When the men wore suits, they were often asked, “are you a business major?”
It sounds silly, but that’s a real clue as to how changes in the way we present ourselves alter the assumptions others make about us and the way they perceive us. Whether you’re trying to get a job or a date, how you look might be as important as the words you say. That look doesn’t only affect people who perceive us, it also affects how we perceive ourselves.
I hope that considering how our souls yearn for romanticism in our lives is a valuable understanding to carry with you through the years of your life. More pragmatically, understanding how adjustments to how you present yourself affect the people you interact with is relevant to any career.
For your blog post on this activity, include:
- Before & After photos of yourself
- Describe what you tried to do
- How did it feel? Did you feel stronger? Weaker? More whimsical?
- Did you have a chance to interact with anyone? (F2F or online) This could include family members you’re at home with.
- Has this activity inspired you to look different sometimes?
- Pick two numbers that add up to 100% for how much Realism and how much Romanticism you would like to have in your life. Why did you pick those numbers?
- Name your medium post Week 3 – Art Activity – CFID
I’d love to have you dive into Ralph Waldo Emerson this week. Or Caspar David Friedrich. But I promised that we’d only look at living artists this summer, so let’s do that. I mentioned them above, so let’s take a look at Miley Cyrus and Jewel.
- Read song lyrics, listen to songs, or watch videos from Miley Cyrus and Jewel.
- Look for Romantic ideas. Remember, by “Romantic” we are not looking for “love story”, we are looking for “Romanticism”, the 19th century movement that glorified nature, emphasized inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy of the individual.
- Would you consider Miley Cyrus and Jewel “romantic” (as in Romanticism)? Or something else? Do their songs call for Realism and Rationalism? Or Romanticism?
- Compare and Contrast – do Miley Cyrus and Jewel explore similar themes in similar ways? Or different? Is one more generally Romantic? Is one more generally Realist?
- Photos – no photos are required this week. But if you want to embed any photos or videos, you are always welcome to!
- Name your post: Week 3 – Artist – Miley Cyrus & Jewel
As we learned last week, Medium only lets you publish a certain number of “stories” in one day. Medium considers everything a “story”. Your “comments” are short (or not short) “stories” that also appear under everything you have published. It’s a nice way to keep all your contributions organized.
I still haven’t figured out what the limit on the number of stories/day on Medium is. I’m pretty sure it is 3 or 4 or 5.
Since you have 2 blog posts and 5 comments, or 7 “stories” to post each week, it seems that you can’t do everything on Sunday. If the limit is 4 or 5, you could do everything on Sat+Sun. If it happens to be 3, you’ll have to start at least by Friday to get it all in. Of course, you can post even earlier! 🙂 If anyone figures out what the exact limit is, please LMK.
For Week 2, I gave everyone who posted any comments the full 25 points. Going forward, please start before Sunday so you can get everything in.
George Floyd & Pandemic Isolation
No doubt many of you are troubled by the murder of George Floyd and the protests since then. It’s the sort of event that an F2F college class would take time out to talk about. Since we’re never in the same place at the same time, it’s hard for us to have that kind of group conversation, but I do want to encourage you to reach out to me, other faculty members, friends, family, or other LBSU resources if you’re feeling upset. 2020 is not the kindest year. Taking care of yourself is essential.
As students, you have access to LBSU CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) and you should take advantage of that. Under normal circumstances there are many ways to talk with CAPS: by appointment, just walk in, and a 24/7 phone line. The counselors in Brotman Hall would answer the phone M-F from 8-5, and if you called other days or hours, the phone would roll over to a licensed professional who could speak with you about issues both large and small.
I believe you can still speak with someone there 24/7. Reach out at: email@example.com or 562-985-4001
Have a good Week 3, everyone!
LMK if I can help with anything. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or LMK if you’d like to meetup on Zoom at some time.