Getting to Know a Work of Art

Currently I am working on teaching materials for the All the World’s a Stage: Celebrating Performance in the Visual Arts exhibition.  Education staff creates online resources for the works in our collection as well as for special exhibitions.  One of my favorite aspects of writing and creating resources is getting to know a work of art on a more personal level.  Usually my research includes looking closely at the work of art, reading about the artwork and artist in the Museum’s object file (a file full of history about the object), and gathering information online and in books about the artist, culture, or the work of art.   

After the completion of the teaching materials, I often come away with one or two favorite works of art.  Although there are many shining stars in All the World’s a Stage, Nic Nicosia’s Act #9 stands out for several reasons.  

Nic Nicosia, Act #9, 1995

Nic Nicosia, Act #9, 1995

The idea that life is divided into multiple stages, from childhood to adulthood, might be translated into the chapters, or acts, of someone’s life.   The man in Act #9 appears as an old man – nearer to the conclusion of his life rather than the beginning.   This man, Nic Nicosia, the artist who made this work, stands on a stage.  By putting on makeup to appear older, he felt that he “became” the character.   It seems like he is facing an audience and delivering a monologue much like Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. 

Without getting too philosophical, it is interesting to consider that we are all actors on the stage of life and we all have different roles to play.  There is no doubt that art is powerful and can have strong impact on how you see the world.  

Look forward to the launch of the All the World’s a Stage teaching materials in the next few weeks.

Until next time…

 Jenny Marvel

 Manager of Learning Partnerships with Schools


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