Columbus Museum of Art Visit:
Last weekend, I went to the Columbus Museum of Art with my dad. We saw the Lego Exhibit, several 19th -20th century pieces, a couple art prints, and the Lod Mosaic, a Roman piece dating back 1700 years. The Roman Exhibit was the biggest and probably most exciting. First, a trip to ancient Rome! Nearly two millennia ago.
I learned how its builders laid tessellations in the stone before placing them, like giant puzzle pieces. This ancient mosaic was found in Lod, Israel and probably belonged to a wealthy maritime merchant, hence it was decorated with fish and sharks. Also, the bottom of the mosaic has whales on it, but since very few Romans had seen sharks, they are half-real, half-mythology! They have horns and giant eyes and look like sea monsters. The museum walls told me that ancient Romans of 200 AD had a fascination with exotic animals; tigers, elephants, etc. shipped across the empire that colored the mosaic. It prompted questions in my dad such as “How did they put elephants on ancient Roman boats?” I suggested they bought them as babies.
We had entered the museum hoping to see Impressionist works. Unfortunately, they cleared out the Impressionist gallery to make room for the Mark Rothko 1940-1950 Exhibit. I think the other gallery will return soon. The more modern works I saw included August Rodin’s “The Abduction of Hippodamia”. It depicts a centaur from mythology kidnapping Hippodamia, a girl. As an amateur mythologist, I’m fascinated by mythological scenes, even neoclassical style.
There were elephants made of metal and an Egyptian oil lamp…we didn’t know if they made wicks for them or not, for none were present. However, I like the sort of art that invokes history, such as a later work I saw by Man Ray “Madonna”. (1914) It turns into a smoking cannon if you look at it sideways, but it’s actually Mother Mary with baby Jesus! Another conflicting World War I piece was ironically titled “Berlin Ante War”. As a German scholar, the conflicting theme of praying knights in stained glass in World War I was a particularly intriguing artistic paradox between war and peace, much like Man Ray‘s piece. We also saw Depression Era pictures of corner markets and people picking up coal from a railroad, which my dad explained would’ve been a precious commodity.
One of the first exhibits we saw was actually not in ancient Rome or the Depression Era, but actually the modern era, right here in Columbus. The Lego Exhibit. Paul Jensen’s replica of the OSU Stadium was made with a million Lego pieces. There’s even an interior! I commented that I sometimes can’t even connect basic Lego shapes! It’s mind-boggling to even think of a million Lego pieces. (For me!) Over in the next room was an entire city; in the next, a duck pond with a dozen or so sticky notes encouraging people to write their own narratives to the pond, which they did! The last room we saw was a room of custom Lego people! Neat-o!
The last thing to really grab me though was a pencil print showing Jimminy Cricket in various stages of being drawn. While other colorful prints were there, I can’t remember all the names, and nothing quite grabs me like a Disney print. Lastly, I happened to see a section on facial expressions and the many emotions that the human face can convey. Dad commented that one of the marks of autism is to not be able to make the link between facial expressions and emotions. I didn’t know if that was true. However, being an intercultural investigator, I remarked that many of these faces could cross culturally be lost in translation. (I once had a Hungarian professor who nodded in disagreement, and shook his head in approval. ) Though I’ve no doubt that autism (while being on a spectrum.) does affect the ability to recognize expressions.
Art speaks to all of us differently. It instructs, it uplifts, it forces us to look within our bodies to create something beyond what already exists. As I left the building, I reflected that I’d always wanted to go to the museum and I was glad dad came with me. Art brings people of all experiences together in search of the human experience throughout time. Although, I joked, since there were no Impressionists, it could’ve made a bigger “impression”! Maybe next time!
(August Rodin's The Abduction of Hippodamia.)
(The Lod Mosaic)
(Dad and I.)
(Lego OSU Stadium.)
(Marsden Hartley's Berlin Ante War.)
(Man Ray's Madonna.)