When most people choose art for their homes, they select pieces that are soothing, sentimental, or match their personalities. When they visit a museum, they usually gravitate toward beautiful, heart-stopping images.
But artwork that is more difficult to look at—the troubling, shocking, and profane—can challenge the viewer to take a second look to decipher its meaning. It can force viewers to think about what they may prefer not to, noted Kathy Shiroki, curator of museum learning and community engagement at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, lecturer of art education, and coordinator of the Czurles-Nelson Gallery.
Shiroki provided a one-hour presentation on thought-provoking, contemporary art in her January 10 Winterim workshop, “Looking at Difficult Artworks,” at the Burchfield Penney.
Winterim is a series of educational workshops held during winter break for Buffalo State faculty, staff, students, and their family members.
At her workshop, Shiroki shared slides of photographs, paintings, sculptures, and performance art that have appeared in museums and other public spaces throughout the country. Some of the works have sparked controversy; others represent difficult subjects of our collective history. She also guided workshop participants on a tour of the Burchfield Penney's current McCallum Tarry Intersections exhibit.
“So much art is not what you think it is at first,” said Shiroki who has presented several art appreciation classes and other seminars that help participants see art from fresh perspectives.
On January 16 at 1:00 p.m. at the Burchfield Penny, Shiroki will present another Winterim course, “The Art of Sharpening Leadership Skills,” which compares having differing opinions in a conversation to seeing artwork differently.
Pictured: Jaqueline Tarry from McCallum Tarry Intersections