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FREEDOM Just Another Word For...

Long-Bin Chen Gonkar Gyatso Ran Hwang Ang Tsherin Sherpa Roger Shimomura

PLUS! Xu Bing

INTERACTIVES BY


We the People of Kidspace at MASS MoCA — in order to form a more perfect union between art and everyday life, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense against a lack of creativity and optimism, promote the general welfare that all people can make art, and secure the blessings of liberty and freedom of expression for all — do ordain and establish this commitment to our visitors. Signed MASS MoCA, 2013. What does the word “freedom” mean to you? It may mean that people can read, speak, eat, act, play, and do whatever they choose. Perhaps it is about living in a community or country that does not intrude in your life. According to Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, “freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice... No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.” Through your time in Kidspace, combined with your personal experiences, we hope you will walk away with a deeper understanding of the concept of freedom and how its many meanings can be expressed visually by working artists, and you. Freedom: Just Another Word for… is Kidspace @ MASS MoCA’s contribution to this year’s threemuseum (The Clark, Williams College Museum of Art, and MASS MoCA) project—Words & Images— exploring the contexts in which words are used, how artists visually express their meanings, and the different kinds of words that may be associated with visual images. Look for other Words & Images projects at the Clark and Williams College Museum of Art.


ABOUT THIS GUIDE THIS GUIDE OFFERS A TRAIL THROUGH THE EXHIBITION TO HELP ALL VISITORS* EXPAND THEIR DEFINITIONS OF FREEDOM.

IT INCLUDES 4 STEPS At the end of this guide you will

1 LOOK

question and discuss the art and artists

2 PROCESS contemplate the concept

3 CREATE

make your own expression

find a glossary with art terms and a thesaurus with other terms for the word freedom.

* KIDSPACE: IT’S NOT JUST FOR KIDS!

4 REFLECT share what you learned


Gallery activities

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Checklist Scrabble tiles What words would you use to describe the works of art?

Meditation cushions Take a seat among the art to contemplate.

ArtBar Create your own “word of art”.

Xu Bing interactives Try your hand at making your own Xu Bing-inspired symbols.

“Freedom of Expression” wall Add a drawing or words to our group art project.


PRE-REFLECT

Before experiencing the exhibition, draw or describe below a symbol of ‘freedom’.


! K O O L

ANG TSHERIN SHERPA Tibetan painter Ang Tsherin  Sherpa creates pop art using the Tibetan art form of the thangka—a traditional painting on silk, often with embroidery, that usually depicts a Buddhist deity. Sherpa offers both humor and political commentary by having the figures in his work appear silly or mischievous. Sherpa grew up in Kathmandu, Nepal, where at age 12 he began studying the method of making thangkas with his father, who was a master of the practice. Shambhala, 2013. Gouache, acrylic and gold leaf on paper.

S N O I T S E U Q 1. What is your immediate reaction to seeing a Buddha in a silly pose? 2. Why do you think the artist wanted to show an important figure in this light? 3. Do the images express your idea of freedom? If so, how? 4. What other words would you use to describe the work? use the scrabble tiles next to an artwork to spell out your word.

Freedom (Tibetan) རང་ དབང་


! K O O L ROGER SHIMOMURA S N O I T S E QU

Roger Shimomura’s work may seem familiar to you because of his use of well-known iconography such as cartoon characters to create self-portraits of himself battling for freedom. Born in 1939 in Seattle, Washington, Shimomura and his family were placed in an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II for two years of his childhood. He has since gone on to become a distinguished professor at the University of Kansas at Lawrence and a successful artist with work in numerous museums. American Baby, 2012. Acrylic on canvas.

1. Why does the artist show himself as a cartoon character? 2. Do the images express your idea of freedom? If so, how? 3. What other words would you use to describe the work? use the scrabble tiles next to an artwork to spell out your word.

Freedom (english) Freedom


LOOK!

gonkar gyatso Known for creating colorful Buddha images filled with stickers and paper collage from sources around the world, Tibetan-born artist Gonkar Gyatso questions politics, religion, and identity. The artist has lived in many different nations to find safety and opportunities, and tells his own story—and the stories of places he’s lived—through collage materials layered on the surface of sculptures. Interested in starting a dialogue, Gyatso says his figure’s missing head can be interpreted as a metaphor for the conflict between Tibet and China, “like a group of people hitting their heads against a wall because they are getting nowhere”. Ambivalent Faith, 2013. Resins sculpture with mixed media. Courtesy of the artist and Steven Beyer.

Freedom (Tibetan) རང་ དབང་

S N O I T S E QU 1. What other reasons could there be for the artist leaving the head off? 2. Like Sherpa and Shimomura, Gyatso uses symbols from popular culture. In what way do these images add to your impression of the figure? 3. Does the sculpture express your idea of freedom? If so, how? 4. What other words would you use to describe the work? use the scrabble tiles next to an artwork to spell out your word.


Dreaming of Joy Feel free to enter the cage and play with the buttons on the floor, placing them gently in between the pins that make up the bird. Pay close attention to the sounds and your own movements.

Korean-born installation artist Ran Hwang has become widely respected for her enormous depictions of birds and cherry blossom trees, created entirely out of buttons and pins. Hwang spends numerous hours sorting and installing the small bits used to make up her large pieces, with this attention to—and repetition of—movement becoming her way of meditation. Dreaming of Joy, 2008. Buttons, pins, panels of wood canvas, steel bars.

! K O O L

S N O I T S E QU 1. What do the birds mean in the two Hwang works?

ran hwang

2. Why do you think the artist chose to use buttons instead of another material? 3. Do the images express your idea of freedom? If so, how? 4. What other words would you use to describe the work?

Freedom (KOREAN) Jayu

use the scrabble tiles next to an artwork to spell out your word.


LOOK!

long-bin chen Long-Bin Chen of Taiwan creates stunning sculptures made from recycled books and magazines to take on the look of stone. His sculpture depicts Damoh, a bodhidharma, the Buddhist monk who is credited with establishing Zen. According to legend, Damoh meditated sitting motionless for nine years facing the wall of a cave. Damoh, 2012. Magazines. Courtesy of the artist and the Frederieke Taylor Gallery.

S N O I T S E QU

1. How do the sculpture’s materials add to the idea that Damoh sat motionless? 2. What is the importance of Damoh facing away from the world? 3. Does the image express your idea of freedom? If so, how? 4. What other words would you use to describe the work?

Freedom (Mandarin) Zì yóu 自由

use the scrabble tiles next to an artwork to spell out your word.


Much of Chinese artist Xu Bing’s artwork (more of which you can see in MASS MoCA’s Building 5) plays with appearance and reality: here, his calligraphy at first appears to us to be Chinese, but, upon closer observation, it is English words imitating traditional Chinese calligraphy style. This system makes an Eastern practice more accessible to a Western audience. The inspiration for this comes from an event in Xu Bing’s childhood, when the Chinese government was simplifying written language so that more people would be able to read. Square Word Calligraphy, 2003. Installation image of Background Story, 2012. Photo: Art Evans.

! K O O L

XU BING visit building 5

Freedom (universal)

S N O I T S QUE 1. How does the ability to read give you freedom? 2. At the calligraphy desks in Kidspace, twry writing your own calligraphy letters and words. How free did you feel when using the ink and paintbrushes? 3. At the lightbox in Kidspace: Add to the lightbox drawing using found and natural materials. 4. Do these activities express your idea of freedom? If so, how?


Process! Process! Now that you have explored the work on view, take a moment to process your experience. We suggest that you sit on a meditation cushion; you can sit for as long as you want (but we recommend not 9 years like Damoh.)

Pay attention to your own breathing in and out. As Zen Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh said: Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice... No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.

Send loving-kindness and freedom to yourself and others using this Metta Mediation practice developed by author and meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg. (“Metta� is the Pali word for loving-kindness.) You are welcome to say the words aloud, or repeat them silently to yourself.

Send to yourself May I May I May I May I

be be be be

happy. safe. healthy. free.

Send to someone you love May you May you May you May you

be be be be

happy. safe. healthy. free.

Send to a person with Send to all beings living whom you have difficulty in the world May you May you May you May you

be be be be

happy. safe. healthy. free.

May all living May all living May all living May all living

beings beings beings beings

be be be be

happy. safe. healthy. free.


Before you visit our ArtBar for

! E T A E CR E! T A E R C ! E T A E CR

a project, take one more spin through the exhibition. This time, pay particular attention to the materials used by the artists. You will have the opportunity to create your interpretation of the word “freedom�. Consider which materials would make your statement clear and what you might want to say about freedom in your work. Draw a sketch below.


! T C E L F RE

! T C E REFL

•• Take a moment to talk to your friends about your ideas about freedom and art. •• Visit MASS MOCA’s main galleries with an eye towards the topics of freedom, words, and symbols. •• Write a note to your future self (10-15 years from now) with your wishes for a freer, more peaceful life.


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GLOSSARY Art Terms Collage

Metaphor

a type of artwork made by assembling different pieces, often layers of newspapers, photographs, colored paper, and drawings

Iconography image or symbol in a work of art

the comparison of one thing to another that is like it in some way; for example, when talking about a junky car, you might call it a “bucket of bolts”

Sculpture a 3-dimensional form of visual art

Pop Art a form of art including images from pop culture

Installation Art

Self-Portrait a work of art portraying the artist who made it

a 3-dimensional piece of art meant

Thangka

to transform a space

A traditional form of Tibetan painting, often embroidered on silk, featuring a figure of a deity

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THESAURUS other words for freedom

Liberty • Independence • Latitude choice • power • autonomy openness • nonconformity


Public Hours Summer hours (July 1–Sept 2) 11am–6pm with art-making every day School-year hours 11am–5pm every day except Tuesdays; art-making on weekends and school holidays

Kidspace

@ MASS MoCA is a child-centered art gallery and handson studio that presents exhibitions and educational experiences in collaboration with leading artists, primarily for the public schools in North Adams and the northern Berkshires.

Kidspace @ MASS MoCA 1040 MASS MoCA Way North Adams, MA 01247 413.664.4481 x8131 www.kidspace.massmoca.org

Major season support for Kidspace @ MASS MoCA is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Anne R. Avis and Gregory M. Avis Fund, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and an anonymous donor. Additional funding is provided by the Brownrigg Charitable Trust, Milton and Dorothy Sarnoff Raymond Foundation, and Alice Shaver Foundation, all in memory of Lynn Laitman; Holly Swett; the Berkshire Bank Foundation–Legacy Region; and Price Chopper’s Golub Foundation. Laura Thompson, Ed.D., Director of Education + Kidspace, curated Freedom with free-flowing assistance from Leigh Dale, Kidspace Senior Intern; Shannon Toye, Kidspace Education and After School Programs Coordinator; and Rachel Heisler, Education Coordinator. cover: Roger Shimomura, Astro Boy, 2004. Acrylic on canvas.

Freedom, Just Another Word For...  

A visual exploration of how words and art can have multiple meanings. Featuring Xu Bing, Gonkar Gyatso, Ran Hwang, Ang Tsherin Sherpa, Long-...