Saturday, February 21, 2015

Human Devices (Globalization and Me)

Globalization and Me  Jonathan Sanchez
Virtual Global Museum Tour
The topic I researched was museum websites around the world. The idea that someone an artist, student, scholar can now view works from museum collections via the internet may seem like old news. Yet virtual presence of museums has recently dramatically changed. Museums are no longer merely one place in one geographic location they have gone global.
Looking into changing museums in particular the web personas of museum I discovered a few great books on the subject. The most important of these sources was from Bautista, she takes on the subject of museums and technology headon. Most of the other sources address the idea of what a museum means, how that meaning has changed over time and what the future holds for museums. Bautista addresses all of these ideas as well but really looks deeper in the culture that has inspired museums and the technology that has changed them.
As someone that has been in out of the museum field for many years, I witnessed the clash between traditional museum culture and the introduction of technology into that world. When I began in museums it was still common to find film cameras, accession files were usually a kind of library card catalogue system, signage might involve silk screening or a print shop. While in the field all of these things were relegated to some museum somewhere. Now data entry is the most common job listing on most museum websites, close behind it museum educators. The clerical work, that is in museum culture, the important stuff is all done on a computer, but the museum educator is a new symptom of a more user friendly museum culture. Likewise, most museums offer educators packets, additional info, and virtual tours of the collection. In short the two go hand in hand museums consider the outreach potential of the web presence and persona while documenting recording their collections.
“Globalization put pressure on museums to think in terms of a global network,” (Bautista, 2005, pg 17). A very important notion one of global cultural heritage versus regional or national has shaped and driven museums in this century. Along these lines the most important question Bautista raised in her introduction was, “How can technology help all museums to better understand and engage their communities?”
My Virtual Museum Hop
To create my work and finish my research I set up a loose perimeter for virtual fieldwork. Beginning in Phoenix I would museum hop eastward eventually circling the globe and finish in San Francisco. I would test the museums websites, observe them, and make notes. Further I would consider them aesthetically and look for some thread that might be carried into my final artwork. The challenge was to be inspired by the websites as an artist to create a work inspired by the process. In turn the websites would be part of the work with links available for viewing.
Phoenix PAM
The Phoenix Art Museum site is useful and not unattractive. As I roamed it I was struck by a particular Georgia O’Keefe work Canyon Country and thought it might be useful as a starting point. Then I noticed they have a touring exhibit of on Leonardo and became torn as to my direction. I ended up using the Leonardo after going and seeing the show at the museum. I also did my research at the PAM library and archive.
Phoenix.jpgLeonardo inspired mixed media work. Print techniques, pen, and acrylic.
The New York Museum of Modern Art is of course sprawling and fantastic where else can you see an entire Japanese village, and Egyptian temple under one roof? The site is also impressive in its way it is visually stunning and full of information and images. A Miro Hirondelle Amour (1934) work kept popping up and I thought it might inform my work. I decided to explore his work further on the site and decided he would inform me in general but no specific work would.
Miro informs the work in small ways, but no specific work was borrowed from.
London Tate Modern
The Tate Modern site is austere even frugal as if they could spare the pixels needed for color or perhaps it is an attempt at a clean elegance that would make Mies Van Der Rohe proud.
I was struck by the ancient looking but timeless work of Henry Moore, in particular, the stone work, “Decumbent Figure” (1938). The simple abstracted reclining figure would be echoed through my hop through several other cultures.
London.jpghenry_moore.jpgsketch of the Henry Moore work
Paris Louvre online
The Louvre is such an impressive building with so much of French history tied up in it, it is fitting that they have the most extensive virtual tour I ran across. You really seem to glide through the museums it is impressive. As you stop at various works you can engage with them and learn more about them. I discovered my reclining figure a few more times on this page.
Paris.jpgParis_Istanbul.jpgoriginal sketches for Paris and Istanbul
Museum of Modern Art Berlin
The Berlin Museums site was very bright and friendly and I was struck by the mix of works present. A work by the artist Rainer Fetting Gelbe Mauer, (Yellow Wall 1977) really struck me and I thought I might use it for inspiration for my final work.
I used the pallete of the above mentioned work but did not incorporate the work directly.
Istanbul Modern Art Museum
The Istanbul site was more European than any of the other sites, it seemed a homage to the De Stijl in particular Mondrian. As simple photo work made a big impression on me and I decided to reinterpret the work from Barbara and Zater Baran from their exhibit Observatory 2015.
turkey.jpggraphite and monoprint
Moscow Museum of Modern Art
I begin to feel as if the same web designer is working on all of the museum sites. Most of the pages seem to follow a common aesthetic of mostly white with thumbnails as if imitating the long standing convention of white walls in museum. The first thing I see on the site however is my reclining figure again this time in green as depicted by Alexander Pogorhelsky.
Moscow.jpgberlin_moscow.jpgMoscow and Berlin sketches
New Delhi National Museum of  India
Finally a museum marches to its own drum and hangs thumbnails on a black background. Strangely enough the first image I see is another reclining figure this time frame the BC. That was the point where the research and project became a little spooky I had gone through time and around the globe and found not differences but the same thing over again.
new_Delhli.jpgDelhi_Tokyo.jpgDelhi and Tokyo sketches
Tokyo National Museum
Back to the normal images on white convention for a very useful and impressive site overall. A tiny jade axe caught my eye while wandering the site it seemed similar to an abstract figure from Henry Moore though it was listed as being from 3000 BCE. I began sense a theme of technology from stone tools, to the devices of the Renaissance from Leonardo to bridges of the final work. Coupled with the images of figures it began to take on this universal idea of all of mankind throughout time.
Jadeite Axe
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Back in the USA the San Francisco museum site comes off as the most modern polished and stylish that I encountered on my travels. In truth I set out to do the research and looking at the landing page of the SF museum I discovered an image of thousands of little images. I then thought would it be great to make a piece like this and then paint it. So the step of painting it would add an expressive quality not present in the photos.
A photo of a sculpture entitled Bridges from the artist Mark de Suvero really caught my eye and took me back to the Leonardo devices from the first museum.
In closing
What I have found is that it is possible and even easy to work in this way that is to draw inspiration from museum sites and their digital collections. The potential for global work is therefore great. How will young artists with access to these global treasure troves be inspired is an incredible question to ponder? Museum websites and their openness allows for the furthering of and an artistic celebration of a global cultural heritage.
My final work entitled, “Human Devices,” is both a play on the idea that the images are inpart of devices created by humans and artistic representations of the human form through several cultures over a vast amount of time. Spanning (no pun intended) suspension bridges back to stone tools the work revels in ingenuity.
“Human Devices,” 2015 41x23 mixed media (acrylic, graphite, monoprint, pen on eight canvases

Bautista, S. S. (2014). Museums in the digital age: Changing meanings of place,
           community, and culture. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My Migration
Link to the short film on the subject of my ancestry and origins.
Jonathan Sanchez
Migration and integration

My family history is something I have been over and over again. As if looking for clues in the fractured dysfunctional thing labeled a family. I have done everything from genealogy and DNA testing, to travels and interviews with family members. What I have found is that it is an American right to make up your identity. I have within my family seven nationalities, on four continents, speaking six languages, so to identify with only one aspect would be a shame. Historically, my ancient ancestors were reportedly Jewish from the south of Spain and Canary Islands. Perhaps a little thing called the Inquisition had something to do with my folks wanting to get to the other side of the world, where over time they would become Christian. My name according to a museum colleague of mine a bit of scholar on the middle east and Judaica, has told me that my name is what is known as a converso name often spelled Sanchus or Sanches but by Jews it is spelled Sanchez.
My relatives landed in the caribbean becoming known as Spanish Colonist, and later as Americans after the Isle of Puerto Rico was seized by the U.S through the Spanish American War. My relatives reportedly became part Native American (though the above DNA test did not show evidence of this). It did show Ethiopian, North African, Roma, and Sephardic Jewish traits.
As a territory Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. but without the full privileges or rights of say a state. The residents of the island still live in a political limbo without the right to vote in U.S matters but the right to die in U.S. wars. In the 50’s New York was overwhelmed with an influx of immigrants from the Isle of Enchantment, resulting in widespread, exclusion, racism, and discrimination. A Puerto Rican neighborhood was synonymous with the worst part of town. My parents lived through this hatred and invented identities for themselves. My father and grandfather show their ancient African features which had some consequences when visiting the south in the 60’s. My grandfather for example was denied access to a white hospital and my father while in school in Texas often feared using white restrooms.
I stress all of this to say that my father chose to not see himself as black though the world sometimes did. Growing up to present, there is a weird bond a naturalness with African Americans that lets me know that a sort of cultural memory has survived in me. I have if nothing else a strong reverence for African American culture and its struggle to survive in a country that at times has tried to be unicultural.
Had my parents grown up now how would they have identified I do not know. My mother was always guarded and secretive. When pushed to answer questions her and her mother would, but with caution. Yes we are indian, yes we were jews and yes we are gypsy they would admit to me after years of hiding all three.  It took a DNA test to confirm some of this but if you are from people that have been persecuted, relocated, and exterminated you keep secrets.
I embrace all of it as much of it as I can. I tried in big and little ways to figure what it all means. Learning about and experiencing Roma, Jewish culture through practicing friends, museum visits, and travels. Through blues history I celebrate that part of my life and teach it to school groups and adults on a regular basis.
My family my most important family comes to me through my wife. Marrying a Swiss national I see what all immigrants go through the ignorance and silliness that is handed out to foreigners is both amusing and troubling. My brother married a Colombian woman he has it much worse than me, my biggest hassle is continually explaining that Switzerland and Sweden are two different countries.
I have continually visited Switzerland for more than tens years and lived there for more than five years. In that time I became a serious student of the history and many cultures that make up the country. Learning German allowed me to learn of the larger Germanic world. It is as if it is our own little secret language in this country when we go out and want privacy. There is a coziness to be able speak my wife’s mother tongue and copy the cooking of her homeland. Now after so many years I feel as if part of me is Swiss and may live there again one day who knows.
The way my in laws live and have lived, their stubbornness and frugality, and that they have been married for fifty years is an incredible inspiration to me. In truth I look to my in laws as a model more than my own parents.
My family is distant I have contact with my mother (though I didn’t know her as a child or grow up with her) and younger brother Jeff. He and I have dabbled in genealogy playing the family detectives looking for clues about our past removed from it and placed in mainstream America. My aunts tell me my dad wanted to be John Wayne, and my mother Marilyn Monroe. Growing up in the time of the Sharks and the Jets, “as no good PRs,” I can understand why they wanted to be anything other than what they actually were. I choose to look forward focus on my family that I inherited through my wife and most of all my wife.
The past is a murky mess for me and I prefer to move on make a family with my wife.

Puerto Rican
and American
German (and Swiss German a spoken language more of a dialect)
Puerto Rico

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Our Hybridized Identities and Cultural Practices

Jonathan Sanchez
Lesson 2: Local and Global: Hybridized Identities and Practices
Reading Review and Personal Reflection
Essay (Breaking Down of the Other Through Art)
Though not an official companion to or on the list of suggested reading I found the writing from Wanda B. Knight entitled Never Again to be useful and insightful augmentation to the Frostig writing on the holocaust. All three papers address issues of place, personal and familial history and the possibilities artists and art educators have to start very meaningful discussions on these big ideas.
The holocaust works of of Frostig, and Knight discuss the ideas of authoritarian regimes pushing an agenda based on hatred. The Delacruz writing deals with a cultural and historic void felt by Chinese girls raised in a new culture. Frosting as an American trying to reconnect to Vienna and adopted Chinese children raised in America both find themselves searching for a sense of history, and place. As well the feelings of dislocation that the many adopted Chinese girls raised in the States tend to feel is similar to what Frostig describes. Giving the example of attempts at multi-cultural assignments in their contradictory effects, the sense of being out of place is addressed. Though the paper addresses all recent immigrants, for adopted children or recent immigrants or second generation children whose families are not intact, "for the minority student whose family lineages ..are in flux..these assignments may be confusing, invasive, humiliating..or nearly impossible to complete." (Delacruz, 2012 pg. 235).
Another theme that surfaces in all three writings is stereotypes versus the real. Creating stereotypes according to Knights writing can exasperate the creation of the other (Knight, 2009, pg. 72). Further leading to the creation of less than human caricatures, allowing for the mistreatment of those falsely portrayed. In the case of the holocaust writings this formulation had dire consequences, in the case of the Delacruz writing these stereotypes result in, that (the children in question) never really felt accepted here by their ethnic group of origin...or by white mainstream Americans. Leading to the sense that Frostig echoes of not really belonging anywhere being between worlds due to a historically severed connection.
The final theme present in all three works relates to art education. They all seem to issue warnings or at least caution that the way art is taught can often have the opposite effect intended. That simply adhering blindly to standardized testing is still re-enforcing a sort of dogma (therefore a dominant white view). Finally, that a real and meaningful connection needs to be established to end racism one student at a time.
Specific terms culture keeping reminds of the Chien-hua Kuo article which describes the scholarly efforts to create a suscint Taiwanese identity through children's books, and other teaching aids. In a sense recent immigrant or adopted international children are also trying to create their own national identity and hopefully find their place in the larger US mainstream. Similarly Frostig writes of reclaiming here German Jewish heritage, will immigrant populations also follow this process? Frostig describes constructivist educational approach as, one that is an inquiry-based pedagogy, which promotes deep understanding (not imitative behavior). This thinking can be applied to all the of the writings addressed in this essay, racism is imitative status quo, stereotyping is similar, and ethnic food fair type educational efforts only re-enforce (by trivializing), the dominant culture.
Personal Response
Most of my cultural practices stem from marrying a European person. It has necessitated spending large amounts of time in Europe, using German and creating a household that follows many rules of Swiss culture.
If my wife and I are at my parents house they know before eating to state, En Guete (pronounced, In gweta) the most basic of Swiss expressions meaning enjoy your meal or good appetite etc.. So though we did not grow up saying that it is now commonly used in my household and that of my parents when visiting. When entering a Swiss household you will always deposit your shoes at the front door. As a result at my home there is always a pile of shoes at the door one pair mine the other six belonging to my wife. Though unnecessary I think on some level it feels more like a Swiss home when there are so many shoes at the door. Its little cultural things that make our home in the States or in Europe feel a little more Swiss than American. 
At Halloween while living in Switzerland I had to carve a pumpkin it was fascinating and strange to see but everyone in the neighborhood had to steal a peek at this glowing head in the window. I had big Thanksgiving dinners which the French, German, Italian, Swiss and Austrian guests that experienced that meal with me found very enjoyable and beautiful. In some ways these meals broke down the poor stereotype of burger eating Americans they had to rethink American food and Americans. In many ways living abroad made me feel more American and living in the States makes me feel more European. I notice the many European mostly Swiss things that I do.
As far as a global identity I am constantly aware of what is going on in Europe through friends and family there and feel I am in part there through my family. At least once year I return for a family visit and reconnect with the language and culture and definitely have the feeling the world is connected and what goes on in the States is no mystery to Europeans. 
Viewing the States from abroad one has the feeling we live in a glass house but have no concept of that. It seems even the worst of our culture is copied, or outright exported to the point of it feeling oppressive or invasive. I was so saddened when my little niece at four when given the choice between eating a special meal at grandma's for her birthday or going to McDonald's picked McDonald's  I saw the problem with globalization right there, it can replace your own culture with a far inferior imported one. The sense that we are connected shapes my beliefs and thoughts on what it is to be American and what America as an entity should and should do globally. As well I feel the need to walk more often, consume less and be more European in short less wasteful or gluttonous  so my worldview is shaped by my connections to Europe and the frugality I learned living there.
Delacruz, E. M. (2012). What Asian American artists teach us about the complicated nature of
      21st century Americans’ multilayered, transcultural, and hybridized identities and art
     practices: Implications for an intercultural and social justice oriented approach to teaching Art. In Chung, S. K. (Ed.). Teaching Asian art (pp. 234-240). Reston, VA: National Art
      Education Association

Frostig, K. (2009). Transnational dialogues dealing with Holocaust legacies. In Delacruz, E. M.,
     A. Arnold, M. Parsons, and A. Kuo, (Eds.), Globalization, art, and education (pp. 60-67).
     Reston, VA: National Art Education Association.

Knight, W. Never Again: A (K)night with Ben, (2009). Delacruz, E. M., A. Arnold, M. Parsons,  
    and A. Kuo, (Eds.), Globalization, art, and education (pp. 68-75). Reston, VA: National Art
    Education Association.

Kuo, C. Taiwanese Picturebooks and the Search for National Identity (2009). Delacruz, E. M., A.
    Arnold, M. Parsons, and A. Kuo, (Eds.), Globalization, art, and education (pp. 7-13). Reston,
   VA: National Art Education Association.