A Night at the Museum

“Art offers us an opportunity to slow down and look at things a little differently,” Annette Carlozzi, deputy director at the Blanton Museum, told Free Minds students when they toured the museum on January 19. It was a busy night, with groups taking in the last days of the striking exhibit, El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa.

Students had a unique chance to encounter the West African artist who is considered one of the preeminent of his generation. Using artifacts otherwise considered trash, including the aluminum caps of liquor bottles, Anatsui composes striking metal wall sculptures resembling tapestries of color and shape.

Standing before the large piece “The Stressed World,” Carlozzi encouraged students to trust their own responses when approaching art. “What do you see?” she asked.

Nelson Toala said, “The red and yellow colors suggest joy.” Debora Otera remarked, “It looks a dream catcher.” Several students noted that the open spaces in the sculpture suggested worn cloth.

“‘Oh, that makes me think of this’ is an absolutely relevant response,” Carlozzi said. “Art is a transaction. There’s so much more permission to interpret than people think.”

Upstairs, students and their children took their time with paintings and installations from the museum’s permanent collection. They approached each work of art with the conviction that they could discover something new in it.

As student Stacey Kennedy put it, “Art is for the community. You just got to go after it and not be afraid.”

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