been there | Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art

 It doesn't quite make sense to say that MASS MoCa was "worth the drive", since the drive itself was a work of art. We went a few weeks ago, so there was still snow on the ground and the winter sun was shining through the bare-tree trunks. The museum is housed in a converted 19th century factory and the white brick walls are basically made of windows. Between that and the polished concrete floors, I was tempted to lease it as an apartment.

The current exhibit is called Oh, Canada! and it features - you guessed it - contemporary Canadian artists. Some of it was a little heavy handed (like this pannel by John Will, featuring the names of the participating artists spray painted with the word "Nothing.")  But, a few pieces really resonated with me 

I think contemporary art has the power to be especially evocative, because it takes work to make sense of what we're seeing. When we recognize the abstract sounds and images, it's because they connect with something we know. 

Memories, because they're so deeply personal, feel unique to us. But, both of my favorite pieces pointed to the commonalities in both our present feelings and in our past. Maybe the moments I cherish most are more universal than I realize.

my two favorite works ... 
  • Sarah Anne Johnson, Fireworks: a boat bobs in the arctic, under a sky of watercolored fireworks. I loved how the color runs into the ocean, the same way that the light of a firework starts to fall and is reflected before it burns out. In the New Yorker, she says that she adds paint to photos to "...create a more honest image. To show not just what I saw but how I feel about what I saw."
  • Michael Snow, Solar Breath: an hour long video of curtains being blown against a glass-patio door. In the audio you hear catydids and the sounds of plates scraping at dinner time. It sounded like home.

other arty things...

(photos) on film with Pentax k1000 | in the last they're standing under Xu Bing's Phoenix, which you can see on the Mass MoCa Pinterest


  1. I love modern art. As a modern dancer, it's neat to see what I feel and experience put in a different medium. I love how there are no right or wrong answers in modern art. Often times things get lost in translation, but that's okay and sometimes encouraged.

    Solar Breath sounds beautiful.

    1. Tiffany, that such an interesting and beautiful insight into dance! One of the things we talk a lot about in masters program is actually audience interpretation. There is "preferred meaning" (the way the author intended), "negotiated" and "oppositional". I think its so beautiful (and empowering!) that someone can find a completely different meaning in a text than the one that's expected.

  2. We've been trying to get out there for almost two years now and still haven't. Now that the weather's changing, I want to take a long drive west with the windows down.

    1. Melanie, that would be a perfect spring day! What part of New England do you live in? They say "half the fun is getting there" and it was especially true in this case!


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