THE HISTORY OF DEATH IN AMERICA — by Jamie Warren
Despite the vast array of different cultural practices and beliefs surrounding death, at least one thing stands out as universal among all known societies and perhaps throughout all of human history: no society has ever regarded the dead body as meaningless material. We all, it seems, have a deep need to tend to our dead. Yet, precisely because of this shared ubiquitous value, the dead body has served as a site of power, oppression, and resistance.
CEZANNES of SUBURBIA: The Midcentury Craze for Paint by Number — by Amanda Hallay
In the American 1950s, the birth of Abstract Expressionism coupled with a craze for a fantasy Rive Gauche (cue: artists in berets creating avant-garde masterpieces on the banks of The Seine) saw a genuine belief that we all had an ‘artist within’ who was dying to get out! Sadly the ‘artist within’ most of us wasn’t very talented, but help was on hand. Tapping into this almost pathological desire to create art (and his own need to get rid of surplice paint), engineer and paint manufacture Max S. Klein teamed up with commercial artist Dan Robbins and launched ‘Paint by Number’, each kit containing a canvas covered in light blue numbered shapes, each number corresponding to a tiny, plastic tub of paint. Paintbrush included! Promising to “Bring out the Rembrandt” in everyone, Paint by Number was a genuine cultural phenomenon, the resulting ‘masterpieces’ both hilarious and poignant, telling as they do the cultural story of Midcentury America.
THE PEOPLE VS OSCAR WILDE: Aestheticism, Popular Culture, Evil — by Geoff Klock
Oscar Wilde popularized the idea that Beauty, rather than Truth or Goodness, should be the aim of art -- and by extension pop culture. It was an idea that gave us stunning paintings that are just splashes of color and movies that are pure roller coasters. But did removing accuracy and moral aims from art lead us into our current predicament where we blame stories for preaching violence, patriarchy, racism and sexism?
Space is limited.
Teacher: Jamie Warren, Geoff Klock, & Amanda Hallay
Venue: Terminus Recording