Sunday, October 28, 2012

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

I went to a view exhibits at the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) this weekend. From the realm of design and construction to that of conceptual art is a greater leap than many are willing to make, but I suggest that the effort will pay dividends to those who make it. The large 'photo-sculptures' of Leslie Hewitt are compelling from a first-look at the geometry of the compositions even before one deciphers the materials that make up the photographs. When I spent some time with the series and positioned myself in such a way as to align, in my eye, the floor line of the image and the floor line of the museum itself it is as if the piece is extended out of the frame and into the space. The placement of some of the lighting is such that when I positioned myself in front of the central square of wood in the photograph my shadow was cast front an center. Whether this is intentional or not - it made for a more mindful and engaging visit to CAM.

As a builder, understanding and appreciating the intentional, as well as the happy accidents, of line, space, use of materials in a structure is one of the great motivators to be involved in the industry. Training one's observational skills in art museums and in the natural world is great practice and translates well onto the job site in both actual and metaphorical ways.

For many without a background in the arts some work in contemporary art practice is not what one usually thinks of when 'art' comes to mind. I recommend that, if this is the case, put those thoughts on hold for a few hours and spend some quiet time looking, thinking and observing. It might even make a novice uncomfortable - but it is worth the effort because, in time, you will learn, not just more about the piece/exhibit, but more about yourself.