In a world where we are given so many choices and opportunities, there is something to be said for restrictions.
I realized this during a moment of frustration with Instagram, the smartphone social photography app that is known for filters that give pictures a variety of “looks,” but which also has a cropping tool that forces certain dimensions.
There are some extraordinary treasures at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Joseph, Missouri, and the more I wandered through the museum the more I wanted to get out beyond its four walls, show people what I was seeing and through that sharing encourage them to consider a visit someday.
Instagram seemed like the logical tool to use, but I quickly realized that the way that the app crops meant that I’d have to stand too far away from the artwork in order to get it all into the box (and then it would be too small to really see.)
Suddenly it hit me …. this was an opportunity if I stopped seeing the app’s box as a limitation.
Why not focus in on just part or parts of a painting? Spend time gazing at it overall, then hone in on the section that particularly spoke to me and send it out almost like a teaser to the people following me on Instagram and other social networks. This also gave my visit a purpose other than “walk around and look at art.” All of the photos here were taken with my phone’s camera.
Here is what I chose from the N.C. Wyeth painting at the top of this post:
The light hitting one man’s face, juxtaposed with the side view of the Indian’s face catching a bit of the same light, made a portrait-within-a-portrait.
I was surprised and thrilled to find an Edward Hopper at the museum: his “Civil War Campground” watercolor, which shows how the modern world has overtaken the place where soldiers once stopped to rest. Here is my favorite detail from it (I’ve always liked old glass telephone pole insulators….)
A pretty Mary Cassatt pastel, “Mother Looking Down, Embracing Both Her Children,” included this touching face:
One of the reasons I enjoy blogging is that I can take a detail-oriented, “soda straw” view of the world in my posts. The Albrecht-Kemper was a highlight of my visit to St. Joseph, but I’ve decided that it’s a lot more fun to show you these cropped snippets of what you’ll find there, rather than reveal everything.
Thanks for keeping me in my box, Instagram.
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