What is/is not Art

I hit a wall towards the end of our studio time yesterday. As I was sitting in the halls looking out onto Hennepin Avenue, a Walker employee and a small group of young boys (probably around age 11) sat down about 50 feet away from me. The Walker employee engaged the students in an activity in which she put a circle of string on the floor, handed each boy two items, and asked them each to put the items they thought were art in the circle, and the items they thought were not art outside the circle.

I was surprised to find that all but two items were placed inside the circle, denoting that they were, indeed, art. Unfortunately, there was no talk about what objects were considered “not art” and why, but I was interested in some of the definitions of art that I heard from the boys. Some of those ideas included:

-It’s art when a person took the time to design it.

-Transformation of materials– whether it’s with paint or with found objects– is art.

-Color and pattern is art.

-It’s art when an artist makes a creative decision.

-Nature can be art because it’s beautiful.

-And, my favorite, a quote: “I know it’s art because I saw it at a museum.”


Durational Experience

Today I walked through the galleries at varying speeds to experience the artwork in different ways.

I traveled through Frank Gaard at an aggressively average speed, spending 16 seconds on each piece. I found that the 16 seconds felt uncomfortably long when someone was standing near me, but were inadequately short when I had space to myself.

I traveled through Midnight Party slowly, spending at least twice the amount of normal time on each piece– with a special interest in the more “blank” pieces, such as Sherri Levine’s Black Mirror. Guards watched me but did not interact.

I traveled through Absentee Landlord at a quick pace– never stopping to look at a piece, but glancing at each one. This was the most uncomfortable and embarrassing, as guards and other patrons judgmentally glared at my disinterest.