When I began this project I started with museum studies the history of museums, and eventually the current evolved thinking on museums. Beginning with curiosity cabinets and “undisciplined collections,” museums began as a mix of entertainment, eccentric collecting, and pure blarney (Perce, 1992, p. 120).
“It is this avid and ambitious desire to take possession of the object for the benefit of the owner which constitutes one of the outstanding features of western civilization” (Berger, 84 ?).
Why do we collect things, why have we collected things? and what does this impulse imply about us as a species, civilization, or culture.
Who collected historically has changed anyone can create art now or hang a cheap poster print of famous work if they desire. Art fairs and bohemian art districts have brought art to the masses without passing through the art establishment official academies of old or the sanctified art world of galleries and museums. "The high," art real art propaganda, anti-pluralistic, anti-feminist, preaching one faith, one culture and one race of the early 1900’s has given way to politically correct, multicultural, community minded museums (Weil, pg 81, 2002).
Fred Wilson in his art installation Mining the Museum, explores the often hidden history lurking within a museum itself, the missing exhibits, telling as much as the actual ones
Site specific installation, video installation, performance art have all shifted the art world from a visible tangled collectable commodity to the experience of art and art making. Perhaps beginning with Pollack, passing through Johns, and on to Warhol the art world has protested, mocked and sought to deny the need to create something that can be sold. Where does this leave museums the former cemetery of bric-a-brac, the keepers and definers of “real” art or “high art”(Pearce, p. 81 1992)?
Funding, shifts in the art world, and the demands of globalization have forced museums into new positions new roles and removed the premisy of space. A museum’s web presence is global, it’s collection can be open for anyone to see instead of being merely privy to the upper strata of society (Bautista p. 16, 2013).
If art museums and museums are telling stories then what sorts of stories are they telling and why? These questions led me to several books on creating history. Yes, according to the books I studied it is a creative process making up history as guide to the present. It is argued, “historians do not discover the past but create it.” (Jandrowitz, p25, 2002). Combined with the shift in museums if we accept that we are obliged to create stories to serve the present then museums are positioned to provide new meaning to wide variety of communities.
The writings that stemmed from a 2001 seminar at Cornell University combined under the title the Museum as a Place of Learning discuss at length the power and possibilities museums wield as agents of change and learning centers. The museum is an unfinished cognitive process that provides for socially constructed meaning (Carr, p51, 2001).
My goal is to use my experience in museums creating and presenting workshops programs, artwork, and general museum practices, to present a workshop focused on veterans. Using the found object works of Cornell a s neutral basis for the creative process I hope to oversee the creation of several small works. What I have titled Memory Boxes for their similarity to shrines, curio cabinets, and Cornell’s works are simple construction comprised of found or manipulated objects. Hardware, wire, buttons, junk found at a thrift store is recycled to form a narrative or some kind of symbolic meaning for the creator. The works are then interpreted by the viewer to form their own meaning. Being ready mades or found object pieces artistic training or skill are not needed, folks with limited movement or disabilities are not held back and the cost of the works is nominal.
In order to work with veterans I found it necessary to consult with several counselors and get accounted with a few veterans organizations. Through my music programs and abilities I was able to work Guitars for Vets a music therapy organization using basic music training to combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and provide informal group therapy. Health Rhythms another similar organization uses a basic drum circle concept to provide an informal and fun environment for rehabilitation.
Further to insure that I had a basic understanding and some limited knowledge of the issues involved with PTSD I consulted with therapist and read through some literature on the subject.
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