I often travel the country for work. When I take on a contract I’m in a new city between four and six months. I work diligently to explore my new temporary city and that includes as many of the art venues as possible.
My last contract was in Indiana, PA, north of Pittsburgh. I made every effort to make my days off count and that meant exploring the museums Pittsburgh has to offer. Since the days of the diminishing steel industry, Pittsburgh reinvented itself as an arts town. Along with the many prestigious universities, it has fabulous art museums that spark the imagination.
One of the amazing venues was The Mattress Factory (www.mattressfactory.org). It’s a museum dedicated to installation art. It’s multiple buildings and each one is more impressive than the last. The museum has housing for the artists who live onsite while creating their masterpieces.
I don’t always understand installation art, but one of the interesting things that intrigued me was the ability to become part of the art. When you walk into the art you become part of the art. When you leave the art piece, it changes, and so do you.
Artist Jonathan Latiano strives to get people to be hyper-aware of the space around them. When you’re aware of your surroundings you can weave your way through the space impacting it with each turn. One of Latiano’s premises is that installation art epitomizes impermanence. That’s because it’s created in the space where it’s shown and when the show is over the installation is dismantled. Even if it is recreated it’s impossible for it to be identical to its last reincarnation.
I recently wrote a piece on impermanence titled What Buddhist monks and children have in common (you can find it at www.pilgrimpathway.com). Installation art is about invention and reinvention. Artists don’t create installation art with the intention of someone buying it for their living room. They create it as an ultimate form of self-expression.
In a world filled with challenges, the ability to reinvent ourselves is a gift. Installation art personifies our ever-changing souls. It’s a mirror for our personal and universal transformations. The impermanent nature of the art is a blessing because it shows us the path to emergence!
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