[Note: My usual graffics program would not work with these fotos from late October. I'm still learning how to use the graffics program I had to install to make up for the insane (and as-yet-not-completely-fixed) problem with my usual program, Jasc Paint Shop Pro 8, that adversely affected fotos from that timeframe. If the fotos today are not as crisp as you might expect, rectangles are distorted by perspective, and so forth, please just look to content and ignore visual defects.]
I mentioned here October 27th that I met Nick Kline when he was working on the installation of the GlassBook Project in the gallery around the magnificent atrium in the headquarters of the Newark Public Library (which is near the northern end of Washington Street, across from the northern tip of Washington Park).
The NPL webpage about this exhibition says:
The Newark Public Library is honored to host GlassBook Project: Newark, an exhibition of dynamic, mysterious and evocative artworks that examine the healing processes and coping mechanisms used by survivors of traumatic experience. Presented in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the exhibition will be accompanied by a reception and special programming on October 28 that addresses the nature and impact of trauma "beyond sensationalism." * * *
The Project was founded and created by Nick Kline, a fine artist based in New York City, in partnership with the organization Witness Justice. Kline, a professor in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media at Rutgers University-Newark, introduced the project through a Book Arts class he was teaching there in 2009. The foundation of the project rests on students learning about often "taboo" topics such as self-inflicted violence and domestic abuse, and creating glass books to represent the stories and perspectives of individuals who have endured those experiences. Through the project, students begin to recognize that behaviors that may appear to be symptoms of mental or other illness, may in fact be coping mechanisms adopted by individuals for emotional release, regulation, or self-preservation. * * *
The exhibition features 35 books on loan from the project that present perspectives of survivors of domestic violence, self-inflicted violence, and other traumatic events, that were created in 2009 and 2010 by students at Rutgers-Newark. The books are paired with wall text, and large-scale photomontages by Kline that wrap around the gallery space. The exhibition also includes artists' books and related works by Sarah Stengle, who co-taught the most recent class with Kline.
In addition to the exhibition, The Newark Public Library is also supporting a program open for public participation. * * *
For more information about the exhibition, please call the Special Collections Division at 973-733-7745, or email Jared Ash at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about the GlassBook Project, please contact Nick Kline at 973-353-5600 or visit http://www.glassbookproject.org/.I was reminded by this show that the first fotografs ever, were made by means of glass plates with emulsions of silver salts on them. The NPL exhibit shows many artworks on etched glass to tell a story in both words and images
Here we see a medicine cabinet with its mirrored glass door open.
This piece has various layers, and the viewer can bring more to it than the artist may consciously have intended. For instance, the plaque speaks to the things inside the cabinet. I, however, see the mirror and think of Michael Jackson's song, "Man in the Mirror". Different passages speak to different issues.
I've been a victim of
A selfish kinda love
It's time that I realize
There are some with no home
Not a nickel to loan
Could it be really pretending that they're not alone * * *
I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change.
Especially did I think about Michael Jackson inasmuch as he died from prescription drugs administered by a doctor. MJ didn't store his meds in a medicine cabinet, tho that would be where most of us would store our prescription drugs. I have seen online articles about guests in your house snooping into your life, and one of the snoops' favorite places is your medicine chest. They'd be bored by my medicine cabinet, because I use NO drugs of any kind. I have aspirin, and maybe Ibuprofin or whatever Tylenol is. But I have read the cautions, and some of these pain-relievers can cause serious liver damage! So I don't take them. Every three to ten months I might take a couple of aspirins, for a headache (from whatever cause; yes, I do drink alcohol, but rarely, now, to the point of having a hangover the next day).
No, Michael Jackson's, and Elvis Presley's, drugs were fresh on hand. MJ had his own personal physician administer his drugs — but he still died. We must do much more to keep people away from all kinds of drugs, be they recreational or prescription. Elvis Presley also died from prescription drugs given to him by a physician. I am extremely indignant that this has become a Nation on drugs, and that the evening newscasts on all three networks are interrupted every day for commercials for prescription drugs. Drug companies push their wares, legally, via commercials, some with horrifying cautions about "side effects" — that we are supposed to ignore.
I am a member of a group, gay men, who have suffered extremely high death rates from recreational and prescription drugs. I refused the drugs that were offered to me innumerable times by fools who are now DEAD. They were cool, for using drugs. I was uncool. Now they, or what remains of their bodies, are very cool: room temperature. I am most UNcool: 98.6°F.
The theme of many of the works in this show is SIV — Self-Inflicted Violence — a very unpleasant topic that normal people cannot understand in the slitest and most people don't even want to think about. For us, the objects in this exhibit may be visually interesting, but we don't want to delve too deeply into what exactly it is we're seeing. For a person trapped in habitual SIV, however, these objects may be deeply affecting.
Whereas most people may take a quick look, and perhaps read the descriptive placard, then move on, people with a pattern of or attraction to SIV will see much more. Whether they will see themselves in, and latch onto these objects or the words in the plaques, I cannot say. But I suspect that just seeing the topic dealt with in different, visual ways might help them. Might.
Some people adrift in a world of physical pain of their own creation to distract them from emotional pains not of their own creation, might find a doctor who can prescribe them drugs to reduce their anxieties. Do those drugs work? Do people involved in a grotesque world of Self-Inflicted Violence benefit from chemical treatments? Do they benefit from talk-treatments? I don't know.
I do know that you can't talk people out of madness. I have tried to use reason with people I have met who are lost in a world of unreason.
For people who cannot be talked out of madness, will drugs do the trick? We all want to believe in a "silver bullet", of chemical nature, that will "cure" people of any madness they may have stepped in. But drugs do NOT always work, and even when they seem to help, they may not really do the trick, even when the patient first takes the drug, but most especially when several hours have passed, and the drug has worn off.
There is one video in the exhibition, which speaks to the process of creating these works.
At least one object from this exhibition had been removed to show elsewhere. Why? This itself is a short-term exhibition. Why would they take anything from it? The foto put in place of the actual object looked good, too. Surely there should be other objects for other places.
The various glass objects — etched, painted, whatever — in the NPL version of the GlassBook Project exhibition are, to my mind, well worth seeing. If you have the chance to get there before the exhibit closes, you should assuredly do so.
The exhibit is on the third floor of the NPL HQ, which is open to visitors whenever that 'branch' is open. ("Main branch" is logically challengeable; if "branch" is seen as an analogy to a tree, then the 5 Washington HQ should be termed the "trunk", no?)
There was, however, a program in the fourth floor Auditorium, which I had not theretofore seen. Here you see the speakers at a table at the front of the room.
And here you see some of the audience.
The founders of the Newark Public Library were men of immense public spirit and grand vision. If people were only now planning a Newark Public Library, I suspect they would try to push off onto us a library-on-the-cheap, minimalist in every way. We need, all of us, in every part of this country, to prove ourselves worthy, every generation, of the wonderful things created for us by prior generations, and resolve to create now things that future generations will also regard as wonderful.