I’m a fan of museums as creative inspiration. I’ve been enchanted by statues in the Louvre, photography, and lavishly embellished pen cases, and I even spent the last summer session of grad school trying to find the voices of a room full of beautiful women at the Walter’s.
This year, I am spending some time wandering through the American Visionary Art Museum’s featured exhibition, The Art of Storytelling: Lies, Enchantment, Humor & Truth. It’s like they knew I was coming.
As you walk up the stairs, you’re greeted by Beatrice Coron’s intricate cutout images. The tableaux look to me something like a Day of the Dead celebration reimagining Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Skeletal black-and-white figures work, eat, dance, and climb over branches or through tunnels, depending on whether the world holding them is a web, globe, or tree.
One of my favorite pieces is Mars Tokyo’s Theaters of the 13th Dimension: You walk around a podium, opening doors to see a tiny scene. It’s fun to write a prompt based on one that speaks particularly to you, or imagine a novel that could capture each moment in turn.
My other favorite art “story” is Debbie and Mike Schramer’s amazingly detailed fairy houses. As big as the Barbie Dream House I played with as a kid and oh-so-much cooler, the house is made of wood, glass, moss, dandelion fluff, flower heads, wire, lichens, stone, and other found things, coming together in a house that looks more like it grew than was built. This piece fascinated me especially because I felt the artists’ presence as characters in the story so strongly. Why had they built fairy houses? Who exactly were they hoping to invite? Was it his or her idea to include a music stand? An outdoor reading nook? Whose favorite books are those on the shelf?
The exhibit is open until September 1, so there’s plenty of time to catch it if you happen to find yourself in the Baltimore area. If you do, be sure to check in and let me know which pieces caught your imagination!
I’d also love to know: which museum exhibits (current or past) have inspired you?