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Art Re-Appreciation and What I Took For Granted In Art School

Yup. I am in transition—yet again. No surprise to anyone there, but this time it’s more of an enrichment than the usual 180 degree turn I generally make.

I am attending the Scott Church Shootout in February. A model that I have worked with before and absolutely adore, Jessica Woods, told me that she was on the model list and that she’d like to work with me if she got a final nod. I gave her the nod. She is an art history buff and her enthusiasm is super-contagious.

She’s a fan of Renaissance period art and also a shibari fan — among other things. She is looking for an opportunity to fuse the aesthetic of Renaissance paintings with a fetish/goth-styled twist. While I am not much of a fetish guy, I decided that now is as good a time as any other to explore the opportunities I have. See, most of my photography friends and models I am meeting are big into the fet life. I’m the only square…

So, I told her to lead and I will follow. She described her love for Renaissance art and how she wanted to incorporate the lighting and some themes to make her photographs look more painterly. I am SO down with this. And so, for the last couple of days I have been all over the internet trying to re-learn as much as I can about the concepts and themes behind Renaissance art.

And then something happened…

I started to dig further and further into art history. I came across a quote from Monet:

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”

Now I want to observe so much and figure out what I like and what I don’t and why. I didn’t have this appreciation when I attended the Art Institute years ago. To me, it was all books and old people… I hated reading and analyzing… “Just give me the tools to be an amazing graphic designer, goddammit!” So I stuck to my guns and only wanted what I wanted. I did come away—although somewhat begrudgingly—with an appreciation and love for cubism and cubist art, but I think that was more innate than me learning it. I was always a geometric, collage type of guy. (See, I’m square by nature…) But hey, I was 20 and I knew everything, right?

Now I am in my 40s and I wish I could go back and tell the younger me to pay attention a bit more and really get into this. “Hot artsy chicks will dig it when you get older…” That’ll get the 20-year old version of me to listen… I would also have to tell the younger me to get out of the design program and get into the photo/video track. But that’s another story for another day…

Now I am scouring all corners of the internet, trying to soak up as much as I can. I am hitting up the local library for as much as I can find about art history, but also want to round out my newfound curiosity with some of the humanities and philosophy. Not sure how far I am going to take this, but I am going to add it to the list of everything else I am trying to grasp, then mix it in a pot and see if I can get an amazing “gumbo of knowledge” out of it.

For this post, I will just say, “Thank you!” to the amazing Jessica Woods for awakening something in me that has been slumbering for a long time. I hope this leads to some amazing captures in February and a life-long re-appreciation for art history. In the meantime, I’ll plan to visit the local art museums and make them my sanctuary. My spirit has been restless and uneasy lately. Perhaps this will settle it.