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Wk1 – Art Experience – “Women’s Work” is also Art

Performing the Maintenance Art around the USU was an eye opening experience. I initially went into the day thinking it was going to be an awkward thing to do since I was going to be cleaning an art sculpture in the middle of a busy walkway on campus. However, I put my social insecurities aside and realized it was actually a great opportunity to appreciate and learn about the sculpture along side my classmates. I found it very intriguing the techniques Piotr Kowalski used as he used dynamite underwater to get the shapes he got for each piece. Standing inside the center of the sculpture made me feel like I was there for the underwater explosion and was able to envision it.

I found it heartwarming when I saw students helping each other clean the sculpture. For example I saw a student get on another students shoulders so they could reach the dirty parts that were hard to reach. I enjoyed getting to know my classmates during the experience and will be more open to experiences like this the next time they come up.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles cleaning the steps of an art museum was quite different from Richard Serra flinging molten lead against the walls of an art museum. They both symbolized something very different. Richard Serra flinging molten lead against the walls of an art museum symbolized destruction and chaos, where as Mierle Laderman Ukeles cleaning the steps was a symbol of orderliness. Art is an expression and it is anything that evokes emotion in someone.  Therefore both of their pieces are art. Richards piece is art with no order or no real structure, it is something you create your own meaning for based off of your emotional reaction to it. When I first saw it I felt a sense of disorder and chaos and when I saw Ukeles maintenance art I felt a sense of order and freedom.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ Maintenance Art performance at the Wadsworth Atheneum was art as she was simply expressing herself and how she felt. The fact that her performance was at an Art Museum did not make it art. It does not matter where she performed the act, what matters is the intent behind her actions. It is art because she perceived it as art. Putting things in museums does not make them art. For something to be classified as art the creator or the audience member must decide that for themselves, just like I did with Richard and Ukeles. Like I said earlier, I classify something as art when it invokes my emotions and I feel that it is expressive.

Art is based off of the intention of the person performing it. For example, paintings on canvas in my opinion are always art no matter where they are displayed because I always create a meaning for the painting and view it as art where as some may not view the same piece as art and it might not mean anything to them. 

Ukeles and Jennifer Lopez have made me think differently about “Women’s Work”. I never thought about that term until I heard it on the first day of class. Women’s work is art  based off of the inventions of the viewer and the artist. Ukele helped me realize that any work that a woman does is an expression of character and emotion. Jennifer Lopez showed me that ones work does not need to benefit someone else in order for it to be important, it only needs to mean something to yourself.

In class a photograph of a woman on her hands and knees cleaning Donald Trump’s star on Hollywood Blvd was discussed. Although I respect that some may take their time to clean their idols star on Hollywood, I would not get down to clean anyones star. I respect many people who have a star and the work they put out but I don’t feel the need to clean something that is constantly going to be walked over. Not having a clean star does not belittle any of the artists and the work that they put out because they are not defined by a star on the ground.


One thought on “Wk1 – Art Experience – “Women’s Work” is also Art

  1. I agree that the differences between Richard Serra and Mierle Laderman Ukuleles represented a sort of life and death. They may be drastically different, but because of their intentions, that is what made it art. I also agree that seeing other classmates helping each other clean the sculpture was the best part of this activity. I also had never heard of maintenance art, but after further explanation, I understand how Mierle Laderman Ukuleles’ performance could be seen as art due to her intention behind it.


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