Friday, February 03, 2006

Borrowed Musuem

Tangential to AmericanFamily's post on clothing, I was thinking on all the arty and not so arty stuff we've accumulated over the years. Lots of it comes from other places or just other cultures.
I love having pretty stuff in the house. I really don't like the look of a bare wall very much. I just don't like the stark euro look, I guess. Plus, when we go places, I love coming back with a big pile o' junk. It extends the trip in a way. Every piece has a story about where it came from and how it came to be here, plus the stories about why it was created in the first place. The longer I stare at the objects, the more detail I notice about them, and the deeper their dimensions become. I also love the common motifs or elements in pieces from totally different cultures. The blue of the Virgin Mary's cloak and the blue of Krishna's skin: maybe they were first represented as blue because the lapis pigment was so dear. I love that artists in such distant corners of the world showed their love for their subject with the same technique--the brother- and sisterhood of artists, connected across time and distance. Or something.
Some pieces I love just for their beauty: our contemporary (but traditional style) bronze Parvati--with luscious curves and saucy gesture.
Some I love for symbolism--the set of tiny pairs of lovers. Some I love for its purpose--I can't play a lick of music, but someone else can, on the cute little charango. Some I love because it's just so funny--the Ecuadorian dog mask that freaks the hell out of our cat. She hates it.

I love the jewelry from Africa because making it gave me awesome fingertips of steel, until I could touch hot coals with my bare hands! Check it, suckas! (I can't do it anymore. ah well.)
So probably I'm an apologist. These pieces, to me, are merely beautiful, useful, or artistic; they may very well have other meanings that I'm ignorant of, and, well, that's the very definition of cultural appropriation, isn't it? I suppose that our tiny collection is representative of American removal of art forms and objects from their proper cultural context.
I think I'm going to have to live with it, though. I really can't bear to not collect things.

No comments: