The Newark Museum’s latest acquisition is a large-scale bronze sculpture of a meditative figure with head resting in hands. Look carefully and you see that the figure is composed entirely from the forms of women’s shoes. The knees and thighs are composed from a pair of clogs, the feet are Mary Janes, and several high heels, some folded over, form the head. Ordinary objects of everyday dress are revealed in new ways.
For decades, artist Willie Cole has creatively transformed used shoes and other found objects — including blow dryers, bicycle parts and ironing boards — into imaginative works of art. Sole Sitter is an enlarged version of a sculpture by Cole assembled from actual shoes. The title is a play on words: “sole” evokes both the everyday (worn shoe bottoms) as well as the exceptional, while its homophone “soul” connotes spiritual essence.
The work’s form and dark patina also reflect the influence of African sculpture, which the artist was introduced to as a child growing up in Newark and visiting the Newark Museum. When I first saw this sculpture — in a photograph the artist took shortly after the work was cast in a foundry in Georgia — I immediately saw resemblances to works of art from central Africa. While Cole doesn’t base his sculptures on a specific African tradition or aesthetic, he surrounds himself with images of African art which filter into his subconsious and re-emerge in his work. “I’m exploring the ‘African’ aesthetic in general,” Cole says, “and re-presenting it in a neo-pop art idiom.”
Sole Sitter is on view in the South Wing rotunda, just up the stairs from the museum’s entrance. You can see examples of African art, a source of inspiration for Willie Cole , in the African galleries on the second floor . Another work by the artist is currently on view in the exhibition Papyraceous, in the American art galleries, on the second floor of the Museum’s North Wing.
- Christa Clarke, Ph.D., Senior Curator, Arts of Global Africa
Museum Musings by Amanda
The role of a teacher is vital to any child’s learning. They help kids focus their critical reading skills with questions like: Who? What? Where? Why? How? The Dynamic Earth and emPowered exhibits answer all of these questions with ease and comfort while enhancing the learning experience with fun technology. From the Natural Selection finch racing game to the wild tornado simulator, visitors can engage with technology that is designed to help them focus on the educational aspects of the exhibit while having fun. There is a sound satellite that kids can rotate to find the sound of the animals, and there are sustainable energy wheels and throttles that engage visitors of all ages. By engaging the visitor with cool technology, this exhibit becomes a great hands-on learning tool for teachers, parents and kids. After visiting this exhibit and using with the interactives, kids will probably be more interested in finishing their science homework! All of a sudden, Darwin’s theory doesn’t seem so hypothetical and antiquated; by giving a taste of the real life implications and allowing kids to have a go at it, their interest is heightened and the subjects that once were lackluster come to life through the creative space and engaging stations.
Walking through the exhibits, I found myself remembering the science textbooks of my earlier school years. The covers of these textbooks were always eye-catching with colorful illustrations like rainforest frogs, bolts of lightening or the solar system. While these books were always entertaining the class with vivid illustrations and photographs between the lengthy paragraphs of dry information, these science textbooks were also always thick and heavy. The exhibits Dynamic Earth and emPowered, with engaging play stations and artistry much like the textbooks are a great place to go visit as your child’s science class learns about animal habitats, the food chain, energy and sustainability, and earth’s minerals and materials. Exploring the e is an engaging and seamless adventure through the different chapters of the science textbook. I came out understanding more about different topics and had fun using the cool technology that makes the exhibit modern and integrated, and fun and hands-on!
Museum Musings by Amanda
The theme this week at Camp Newark Museum is ‘Make a Sustainable Future.’ You might think that learning about hydroelectricity, solar, wind and geothermal power would be soporific to the indefatigable campers (don’t you wish they sold Little Kid Energy instead of 5-Hour Energy?—it would last a whole day!). But as I watched from outside the classroom of the 5 and 6 year olds, waiting to take pictures, the kids were fully attentive and eager to engage as the high school aged science Explorers explained to them the multitude of uses and importance of reusable energy sources. The reason for the campers’ full attention is the structure of each day at camp. A well oiled machine, Camp Newark Museum has been around for years serving families in the surrounding area, from Newark to Springfield. The staff is committed to making each day rewarding and fun for the campers at the same time keeping the kids safe and healthy.
A camper at Camp Newark Museum has a busy schedule every day. Special activities range from Art to Science, from Music and Movement to Maker Corp, and from Planetarium play to free time in the garden. The older groups even take weekly trips to the local Glassroots and come home with unique glass art that they have made themselves. The art projects made in class are based on pieces in the Newark Museum’s expansive art collection. The Camp Exhibition of Week One focused on the Chinese New Year. Each class created dragons to celebrate the holiday. Chinese culture is important to the museum because of the large Chinese art collection at the museum. If you visited the galleries that week you probably would have seen the camp classes walking through the Chinese collection looking for inspiration for their dragons.
Testimonials on the Newark Museum website speak for themselves. One parent wrote “It was our first summer camp experience—fun and educational at the same time…What a treasure in NJ! Thank you for such a positive experience.” Stop by the museum for a visit to the galleries and consider sending your child to have fun and learn at the same time at Camp Newark Museum! The Newark Museum proves to be a wonderful camp environment for kids ages 3 to 13! Send your child for one week-long session or sign up for the last three. The themes for the next three weeks are: July 29-August 2, Wild Weather; August 5-9, Space Rover; August 12-16, What Bugs You. Call 973.596.6637 or email campnewarkmuseum@newarkmuseum,org for more information.
Museum Musings by Amanda
This past Thursday I was inspired at Jazz in the Garden. Really, I’m more into pop music and light rock. I love Maroon 5 and Gavin DeGraw; but, Ulysses Owens Jr. and the quartet of musicians on stage were actually quite delightful despite the temperature reaching nearly 100 degrees. In the shade of the garden at the Newark Museum, I felt very relaxed listening to ‘Yellow Bird’, a song which captivated the audience with its changing rhythm. Right before the piece, the drummer, Mr. Owens Jr., introduced the piece by telling the audience to imagine themselves on a paradise island. I did. I felt the cool ocean breeze and the condensation dripping down my hand; a hand that I imagined was holding a strawberry margarita (non-alcoholic, of course; and it was probably just sweat). The melody was light, relaxing and calming. I soon forgot the stresses of everyday—cooking for company for the weekend, cleaning the house in preparation, and my least favorite chore…laundry. But, the jazz was soothing and allowed me to eat my lunch in peace. Even as I write this, I am listening to the Jazz Pandora station I recently created, based on the trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt. I’m looking forward to making a Jazz mix CD for my car. My grandfather would be so proud.
July 17th, the day preceding last week’s Jazz concert, marked the calendar as one month exactly since my start date as an intern at the Newark Museum. In just one month, I’ve grown more passionate about different types of art—the mediums on which they’re produced, the genre, the color palettes, the sound—and also realized that I want to work in an environment dedicated to cultivating others’ passions and curiosities. I really owe the museum big-time for the exposure it’s given me as my time here becomes noticeably shorter–without which I would be stressed, uninterested in expanding my musical horizons, and bored of the same 50 tracks that constantly play when I listen to my iPod. Z100, bite the dust; I’ve got a new station to listen to…88.3 Jazz FM.
From our morning rituals to our time at work, each moment of our day is filled with routine. Because of the fast paced world we live in, we try to shave off a few seconds from everything we do in order to meet deadlines and find time to sleep!. All of these influences can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. Not getting enough exercise, eating junk food and fattening fast food, and having incredible amounts of stress in our lives keep us from fulfilling one of the most common New Year’s resolutions — losing weight. We fail at this resolution because we have a very limited amount of time everyday, not because we don’t try or because we don’t have enough drive.
Generation Fit is an exciting cornerstone exhibition at the Newark Museum that parents and children alike can use to create a better lifestyle; for two years it has been inviting visitors to make better choices. The use of interactive stations that include bicycle-based games, the Microsoft Xbox Kinect game system, and the Power Plate, which uses technology originally developed for astronauts, creates an atmosphere that encourages everyone to participate while disguising exercise with fun.
The enjoyment is non-stop when using the Xbox Kinect game system. The idea of dancing to lose weight grabs the attention of adults who enter the exhibit and enchants the children who just want to dance and play games. The use of the Xbox Kinect system, Zumba Fitness game and Just Dance game series provides an assortment of tunes and difficulty levels for all to groove to. However, the fun and exercise experienced by anyone who enters this exhibit isn’t the sole purpose for attending. Along with these games and activities there are stations that teach us how to better maintain our fashionable figures. Featuring friendly illustrations, this exhibit will enlighten and motivate everyone who steps inside to learn, play and —more importantly —exercise.
- Steven – Marketing Intern
Hi there! I’m Steven and I am currently interning here at the Newark Museum. I will be here throughout the summer giving you my take on the different works of art, as well as a peek into some great events and happenings.
There are times I wish that I was born in a different time period. The allure of wielding a katana while wearing samurai armor; of the battlefields and warring eras along with the glory that came from an honorable life in Japan long ago; the simple and romanticized life of the samurai has always captured my attention. That being said, I find everything inspired by those time periods is worth experiencing. The teapot Behind Quiet Veils of the Blue Willow, created in 2000 by artist Red Weldon Sandlin, incorporates a story of star-crossed lovers — an idea that we’ve all heard about — that originated in the 1700s by Josiah Spode in order to market his mass-produced imitation tableware by illustrating traditional Chinese customs. Romanticized views of ancient Chinese legends, such as the story of Spode, grabbed the attention of Westerners and created a market for blue and white porcelain especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. Sandlin uses this story to not only incorporate Chinese customs, but also to instill the notion that change is inevitable.
The illustrations on this teapot come from the above-mentioned story, the story of the Blue Willow. The star-crossed lovers being from different social classes were not allowed to be together, so they hid. Their secret meetings under a willow tree kept them alive and more importantly, near each other. As they saw no end to their forced separation, they did something that is more common today — they eloped, in order to live together happily. This act of defiance was the beginning of change for the couple. Followed by more change the couple achieved what they always wanted, eternity together. They received this gift from their gods by being turned into doves and allowed eternal lives at their willow tree.
- Steven – Marketing Intern
Nano: The Science of the Super Small
It is fitting that the Newark Museum has an exhibit showcasing the magic of nano technology and its real world applications. Often overshadowed by its bigger, more effulgent Manhattan neighbors, the Newark Museum is an under-appreciated gem. Similarly, nano technology often goes unrecognized for its important contributions to daily life in the face of newer and “cooler” technological advances in areas like aerospace engineering or computer science. In recognizing the underrated importance of nano technology in our everyday lives, we indirectly give the Newark Museum the respect and esteem it deserves. By heavily engaging the visitor with a single broad topic, the visitor leaves the Museum with an experience that is memorable because of the creative presentation of the content and the skillful flow of the layout.
On one of the display posters, “atom by atom” was a phrase used to describe the way nano technology works. That is as much the way nano technology works as it is the way the seven “play and learn stations,” as I call them, are set up. Each successive station builds on the previous to add another layer of awesome application in a new example of nano technology. My favorite station was the ferrofluid-magnet station. I used strong magnets to lift up small floating iron particles, called ferrofluid, which repeatedly congealed and then broke apart. In anticipation of a larger audience—comprised of kids and adults (remember, parents can have fun, too!)—there are three iron magnet stations to accommodate more players. Other stations engage the visitor with different knobs to spin, lights to turn on, and blocks to balance.
The cherry on top is that you end up learning a lot without even realizing it! The literature on the plaques and posters are full of information but do not overwhelm. The nitty-gritty science terminology is put into simpler terms and synthesized into concise blasts of information. By explaining the relationship between nature and technology, the exhibit made me curious about more natural phenomena that science imitates. Just 15 minutes spent playing at the Nano exhibit made me want to learn more. Instilling curiosity in the visitor and whetting the visitor’s appetite to learn more is one of the main goals of the museum. Founding director John Cotton Dana says pithily: “A good museum attracts, entertains, arouses curiosity, leads to questioning and thus promotes learning” (newarkmuseum.org/about). The nano exhibit is a perfect example; Mr. Dana would be very proud.
-Amanda Schwartz, Summer 2013 Public Relations Intern