Currently viewing the tag: "art"

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Welcome Friday! I started writing this post from the comfort of our back deck. It’s been a long while since I’ve had a computer that could actually be considered portable, and I’m definitely warming to the idea. We’ve yet to find ourselves a comfortable set of deck chairs, but I’m happy for the moment to take advantage of the sunshine in a stowaway camp chair. I’ve got cold brew coffee, and a wild cat companion at my feet. It’s a good morning. We put a lot of work into this corner of the backyard over the last week or so, and it’s already paying off.

Friday Favorites // 051 :: girldust.com

  1. These moon earrings by Merewif from Moorea Seal are killer.
  2. The aqua sunglasses from Rainbow OPTX are perfect. I’m actually really into most of the transparent frame options! Which is your favorite?
  3. I’m newly obsessed with Pura Vida bracelets. Every bracelet purchased helps provide full time jobs for artisans in Costa Rica, and Pura Vida has also teamed up with some great conservation charities (including Shark Savers). Obviously, I’ve signed up to a rep. Receive 20% off your Pura Vida order using the code NAOMIDENSMORE20 at checkout.
  4. New papaya pineapple lip balm from Hurraw! Give me ten tubes, thanks. Also, if you’re worried about your lips this summer, the SPF 15 balm balm is just great. It’s one of my favorites, and it smells like tangerine!
  5. Celestite is known to soothe anxiety. I have one or two small tumbled specimens, but this raw crystal cluster is stunning.
  6. I really love elephants. I have been known to cry in their presence. To be honest, I get emotional about a lot of animals. This will probably never change. This cute and comfy looking tank top is made in the US.
  7. I would love to get my hands on this Toshio Saeki (aka the Godfather of Japanese Eroticism) anthology book. The product description at Magic Pony covers the bases, if you’re unfamiliar with ero-guru. NSFW.

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Let me preface this by saying that I am not a parent (and likely will never become one). I’m not an expert in childhood development or early education. What I am is an art historian who believes that it’s really important for kids to learn about art. Art reflects its time of production, and yet is somehow able to transcend time completely. Art History isn’t actually separate from History (with a capital H) Maybe it seems kind of obvious, but when that notion hit me, it hit hard. Art is history, plain and simple. It’s places and people, stories and politics. It doesn’t have to be boring. Get kids passionate about art, and they will become passionate about history.

I am sure education has changed since I was a kid, but I remember being both somehow bored and bewildered by “Social Studies,” even though it was actually my favorite subject. There were massive, massive gaps in my early education. Learning about art and material culture can help fill those gaps, and a little extracurricular Art History education can provide visual substance for kids who need it.

File this under: Museum Stuff and Art School Dropout.

Bear with me a bit, because even though this is a small list, these are all over the place as far as content goes. But, so is art. If you do have children, take cues from them about what their interests are. You probably do a lot of that already. These books are good places to start, but there are hundreds more. I’ve included some general art books as well as a few artist and period specific books that shine a little more brightly in my eyes. I think these are books that a child can enjoy either on her own or with parent involvement.  Nota bene: The titles below will take you to Amazon, and are affiliate links. I will receive a commission for any sales made through the use of those links.

13 Art Movements Children Should Know I’ve actually heard great things about this entire series, but I like Movements in particular because it lays out, very simply, that historical context I was babbling about at the start of this post. This one is useful for Art History undergrads, too. Trust me. Take a break from your flash cards.

Can You Find It? and Can You Find It, Too? I Spy meets art. These interactive search-and-find books from the Metropolitan Museum of Art focus on tiny details in famous works. There are a number of titles in this series, but these two are the originals. Ages 5-9.

Art History Books for Children :: girldust.com

illus. Deborah Kogan Ray / Mary Azarian

Hokusai: The Man Who Painted a Mountain I’m not sure if you knew (you probably do), but Hokusai is one of my favorite of favorites. Lots and lots of Art History education tends to focus on European art, and I get it, but amazing things were happening in Asia, too, long before they “opened” to the West. We’re talking printmaking and mass production, which are definitely of historical importance. Hokusai was doing his thing from about 1786, so the same general era as Neoclassical and Romanticism in Europe. This book not only includes a glimpse into Hokusai’s sketchbook, but is thoughtfully illustrated by the author. Ages 7-12. I want this for me. Deborah Kogan Ray has also written a book about one of my childhood favorites: Wanda Gág, author of (the sweet, but somewhat dark tale) Millions of Cats.

Linnea in Monet’s Garden I read this book in the second grade, and I was obsessed. I checked it out from the library as often as I could. This was my first ever Art History book, published in 1987! It’s a dreamy, sweet little story about a girl discovering Claude Monet. It does a beautiful job of weaving narrative with bits and pieces of Monet’s life. The illustrations reflect Monet’s work in perfectly soft way. Ages 4-8.

Snowflake Bentley This is both a photography and science book! Wilson Bentley spent fifty years of his life perfecting the process of photographing snowflakes with the use of a microscope, and he discovered that no two snowflakes are ever alike. Every elementary school student in Vermont is familiar with his story. His starkly beautiful silver gelatin prints can be seen at the Smithsonian and other museums. This book, illustrated with woodcuts by Vermonter Mary Azarian is another that is near and dear to my heart. Ages 4-7.

The Art Book for Children This is another general knowledge book that has received high praise. The Art Book covers thirty well known artists, both classic and contemporary, and their works. Ages 7+. First in a series.

Art History Books for Children :: girldust.com

illus. Hadley Hooper / Anja Klauss

The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse This is a beautifully illustrated book about Matisse as a boy. Ages 4-8.

The Little Hippo: A Children’s Book Inspired by Egyptian Art I think every kid goes probably goes through an Egyptology phase. And I think it’s okay to support that interest without stressing out too much about repatriation. That’s an issue that can certainly be addressed later, maybe by chatting with a museum docent. This is a book for younger children, probably ages 4-8. Note that it does deal a little bit with death, as most books on Egyptian art are likely to.

I’d recommend, if you are able, that you check out a museum or its website on your own before bringing your kids. Choose a handful of works (or even just one or two pieces) to visit and talk about with them, anything you think they’ll love. Don’t worry about seeing the whole museum, and don’t necessarily worry about seeing what’s famous, though obviously famous works have their merit. Take your time. Let your kids obsess over something seemingly insignificant. Let them stare at it for ages. Because here’s the thing: there are some works at the MFA Boston that I will visit over and over again, run to every time. There is a bronze drum in the Asian art galleries adorned with tiny frogs. There is Isabella and the Pot of Basil. There is The Fog Warning. There is no rhyme or reason to what I love, and it doesn’t really matter. Nothing is insignificant, so indulge in their obsessions. You let them obsess over cartoon character franchises, so let them obsess over works of art.

If you have any favorite art books of your own, please share them in the comments! It’s good to hear from actual parents.

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Nota bene: Friday Favorites posts contain some affiliate links. I will receive a small commission from any purchases made through clicking those links below. Thank you!

Friday Favorites // 030 :: girldust.com

  1. Inner Decay has amazing pins and patches. I want one of everything. I especially love the “Decline and Fall” pin (because nerd), and am also really digging “RIP Feelings.”
  2. Growing up, I was Doc Martens obsessed, but was never actually able to afford a pair. While I love the classic black (and velvet, forever), this burgundy leather pair makes my eyes well. I might actually need these. Because let’s be honest, most of the things I feature in Friday Favorites are not things I really need.
  3. I finally finally bought the Pearl massage bar from LUSH. I tried it in person at the store in Portland and was immediately smitten. Argan oil is my favorite beauty ingredient,  and the rose fragrance of this bar is soft and feminine. It’s perfect for an occasional indulgence.
  4. I have not bothered to look for any new Sailor Moon merchandise since Crystal was originally released. Because, well. You know. That road is dangerous. That being said, these socks are everything. Everything. Yes I would wear them with burgundy Doc Martens. There is absolutely no shame in this magical girl heart of mine.
  5. This beautiful crescent moon cuff from Moorea Seal features snowflake obsidian, which has always been on of my favorites.
  6. This weekender bag has my name written all over it. Unfortunately, I do not travel enough to justify that sort of cost. It’s still lovely, though, and a great size!
  7. These limited edition ceramic mugs are a collaboration between artist Bill Crisafi and Sisters of the Black Moon.
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Nota bene: Friday Favorites posts contain some affiliate links. I will receive a small commission from any purchases made through clicking those links below. Thank you!

Friday Favorites // 029 :: girldust.com

  1. Every single one of these pins by Matt Darling is perfection. Patches and things in the shop, as well. Whatevs 4evs. A part of me is looking forward to fall, so I can put all these great pinbacks on my jacket.
  2. You probably know how I feel about a bra with an intricate back. This lace back bra from Free People is no exception.
  3. I am always on the lookout for cruelty free and nontoxic polishes, and AILA is now on my radar. Their classic black is called “House of Paine.”
  4. I love this leather pouch by Pine + Boon from Moorea Seal. It’s the perfect size for cash, cards, and lip balm.
  5. And while we’re talking about lip balm, this rose vanilla balm from Soul Sunday looks divine.
  6. This set of prints, “Here is the Church, Here is the Steeple,” by Nicomi Nix Turner is absolutely stunning.  The limited edition prints are available for pre-order individually or as a set. Check out the artist’s website here.
  7. This is my dream dress. It’s possible I’ve said that about other dresses, but I haven’t really meant it until now.
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I thought it might be nice to share a glimpse of my academic and future professional world with you. The museums listed here are some of my favorites, for various reasons. Some of them are obvious choices, but others are small, hidden treasures. Most of them have warranted multiple visits, and are places I know I will continue to return to, year after year.

I plan to keep adding to this list.

I’ll start off with home sweet home, of course!

New England

Maine

A Smithsonian affiliate, the Abbe Museum is focused on “inspiring new learning about the Wabanaki Nations.” The downtown Bar Harbor location is bright, open, and beautiful (seriously, it’s a great interior), and the original trailside building at Sieur de Monts Spring is open spring through fall. This Museum has an active relationship with its community, and I like that a lot.

Massachusetts

During my year at MassArt (a stone’s throw away from the MFA), the Museum’s Asian and Islamic art galleries served as a second home. The MFA has expanded quite a bit since my original visits in 2003, and remains one of my favorite art museums.

New Hampshire

I have to mention The Woodman Institute in Dover, New Hampshire, because it’s such an unexpected local gem. The main Museum building is home to both an extensive mineral and taxidermy collection, including what happens to be known as the last eastern cougar ever captured in the state of New Hampshire (circa 1853). There are also a couple great Victorian mourning pieces in the collections at The Hale House. This is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Vermont

The Fairbanks Museum is special because it occupies a large space in my memories of childhood. The building itself is spectacular, and the collections are typical of the late 19th century. The Fairbanks is (unexpectedly) home to the entire collection of John Hampson’s “Bug Art” mosaics, which I was obsessed with as child. The Museum’s display cases are brimming. Take your time with this one.

Shelburne Museum requires a full day, at least. I have been 20 times over the years (probably), and I always discover something new.

My Favorite Museums :: girldust.com // The Shelburne Museum Shelburne VT

My Favorite Museums :: girldust.com // The Shelburne Museum Shelburne VT

Elsewhere

Chicago

Philadelphia

Washington DC

The Smithsonian Museums seem like such an obvious choice, but they are really spectacular. The Freer and Sackler galleries house the Smithsonian collection of Asian art, and should be included on any “must visit” list. They stand out among everything we saw on our first visit to the city. On my second (solo) visit to DC in 2013,  I visited the National Museum of American History and  wept over Julia Childs’ copper pots. I’m a little sensitive. You can read about that trip here.

We visited the National Postal Museum on that first trip to DC in 2012, strictly so I could see Owney, but it ended up being a surprising gem of a site.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Do you have a favorite museum? Tell me your recommendations.

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