Above all else art is about a search for meaning. In our modern world, connecting an artist’s vision of the world with a viewer’s understanding is often the job of museum curators and educators, who act as interpreters and gatekeepers. This has not always been true for all cultures. Art practice is woven into the daily lives of people in indigenous communities, connected to a collectively experienced ritual or performance. The result is transformative and contributes to cohesion and a shared vision of the community as a whole.
In the mid 20th century, a countercultural wave brought a rising awareness of environmental degradation fueled by a capitalistic, consumer-oriented system. Contemporary artists like Christo and Jean-Claude and Robert Smithson responded by taking their work out into the open air, bypassing the museum. Here, the results are exposed to real elements: sun, wind, rain and the vagaries of human intervention. Christo has stated the importance of the “nomadic, transitional qualities” of his projects: “… it goes up very fast, it is immediate, and then it is gone forever. If you didn’t see it, you missed it.” Burning Man, an annual event that gives birth to a wild explosion of creativity in the middle of Black Rock Desert, Nevada, has become a symbol of the ephemeral, communal, artistic experience. If you missed it this year, here are 10 other opportunities to be “in the moment” and fully engage with art.
Cynthia Close holds a MFA from Boston University, was an instructor in drawing and painting, Dean of Admissions at The Art Institute of Boston, founder of ARTWORKS Consulting, and former executive director/president of Documentary Educational Resources, a film company. She was the inaugural art editor for the literary and art journal Mud Season Review. She now writes about art and culture for several publications.