Throughout the year and throughout my writing, I’ve been forced to consider art and my appreciation for it. Certain disciplines I never truly understood in my youth, whether it was my lack of experience with it or lack of information about what is or isn’t considered “art.” Younger Haley might see more modern art pieces, like the post-grad work displayed at Tapp’s and question their validity as “art,” whereas now I am in awe at the creativity and vulnerability of those same pieces.
This called to question: Is art an acquired taste? Can someone who is younger consider and enjoy art the way a more “seasoned” adult might? Is art like coffee? Are more basic wonderments with art sweet and sugary like frappucinos, while more complex considerations of it are like a more pragmatic cup of black coffee?
Last week, I was fortunate enough to spend the day with one of my favorite 15-year-olds, and adoptive little sister. As her “cool college” friend, I wanted to make sure I gave her the trendy tour of Columbia. (Disclaimer: She doesn’t really think I’m that cool.) In the midst of eating fantastic smoked salmon sandwiches at Crepes and Croissants and political discussions over Starbucks, we went to the Columbia Museum of Art.
I was thoroughly thrilled to finally walk through the Andy Warhol exhibit that’s been up (and will remain up through September 12).
“Is it always this quiet in here?”
I began to realize that I wasn’t entirely sure of the etiquette in art exhibits myself, and hoped that she would enjoy the museum as much as I normally do.
Growing up, I always learned to read the text accompanying each piece to better my understanding of what I’m seeing, so I did just that. Thinking I would be the nerd holding us up, I was surprised to see her follow suit and read them as well. We walked on, recognizing familiar faces and discussing the idea of fame.
“Oh my god, glitter!”
I chuckled to myself as I listened to her commentary throughout the rest of the pieces. Growing up with the wonderful parents she did, she was able to consider and discuss more controversial and educational ideas prompted by each portion of the exhibit, interspersed with her early teenaged nuances and silliness.
I was thrilled to see she enjoyed the more contemporary pieces and hoped the excitement carried throughout the classic section in the upstairs of the museum.
I’ve always found the classics to be intriguing, and often even comical at times. The way the influences in art evolved over time from being more religiously-centered to featuring portraits of the more wealthy to more abstract and aesthetically driven pieces is exemplified here so well.
“This dude looks like peanut brittle.”
As we walked through, we shared many laughs at some of the more silly-seeming portraits and interesting ceramics (Why do some of these people look so drunk?), appreciate classics like Monet, and stand in awe at the chandelier of Salviati.
At the end of the day, we giggled about the plethora of cute businessmen on Main Street, we ate great local food, and I got to share a little bit of my interests and passions with her. She went home to her dad, probably with more liberal ideas that I’m willing to admit trying to instill in her mind, and a smile on her face.
That day, I learned that art transcends age. Sure, the level of appreciation and understanding may be different. A 15-year-old might be excited about Superman with glitter (and as was I, who are we kidding?), whereas a 30-year-old might be more intrigued at the political statement that may or may not have been made by depicting Mao.
Regardless, art is still talked about. Art is still appreciated. Art is still relevant.
One appreciation is not better than the other, but instead, understanding and information grows.
So, young art-lovers, you pursue and appreciate your frappucino art. I’m just making my way to a macchiato myself, and might not ever get to taking it without cream or sugar.
(And yes, I am being a coffee elitist.)