Our meeting with Phong Bui, creator of The Brooklyn Rail, was certainly a memorable experience. I was amazed at how welcoming Bui was, introducing himself by shaking our hands and asking our names. I was a little intimidated prior to meeting him because of the success he has acquired. However, Bui made the visit feel like an open dialogue and was very willing to share what he has learned in life, and knowledge he has gained throughout his career.
One of the main things I too away from the inspiring visit was how Bui talked about how art is made to elicit a feeling of “touch” and how it needs to be able to move people, or it is not an effective work. This had me thinking about my own work, and made me consider how people would react to my pieces. He also said that art is made to evoke truth and culture, and it is essential in human life, because without it we truly have nothing. Another crucial thing he shared was to do what you want, and what will guide you towards living a fulfilled life. He shared a story about how having regrets and fears equates to an unsatisfied self-examination and acceptance of one’s accomplishments. Additionally, Bui discussed the difference between work and labor, and how if you are truly doing something you believe in and love, it will be fulfilling, even if it is challenging at points.
Bui also talked about how it is import not to pigeonhole yourself and to always strive for the best you can be. Something that was interesting also was to see his perspective and to see how his own life experiences influences his way of thinking. All the books and art in his studio showed that he was very educated and well-versed. Bui also said how we often sell the idea of a person and glamorize them in our capitalist society. For example, Van Gogh is often romanticized and his work is featured on any object you can imagine that can be sold because it has been represented as “trendy.” This made me think about how we are in charge, to an extent, on the canon of art history and who has access to it. We, as a society, often decide what is deemed “good art” based on its ability to sell and be popular to the masses so that profit can be made. This was a developed idea that I think is true for many things. Overall, Bui reinforced to me how important it is to be the essence of who you are, and if you are true to yourself, it will show in your work.
We also got to meet Johnathan Ehrenberg whose work is quite obscure but very fascinating. While Ehrenberg works in various mediums, his video art was interesting to talk about. I learned a lot about how challenging the process is in terms of not only the final project, but all the props, set-up, lighting, etc. that goes into producing video art. I never really understood how video art is sold, so it was interesting to learn about the process.
I really enjoyed Ehrenberg’s work and the Surreal quality of the forms he uses. On a separate note, I also thought about some of Edvard Munch’s work, like Eye in Eye, (1894), in correlation to Ehrenberg’s work. I believe Ehrenberg captured a similar tactility and haunting psychological quality that Munch has become renowned for. It was very interesting to hear Ehrenberg talk about his work in his studio, and to see everything hanging up. I think we were able to get a good indication into his artistic process and how well-rounded he is in thinking about two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms, and how these can all work together to create a strong and very unique body of work.
(image, Johnathan Ehrenberg, courtesy of http://curamag.com/issues/2014/2/20/featured-artist-jonathan-ehrenberg)