Last week our Photography and 3D Modeling & Animation classes were given the opportunity to receive a private tour of the new Ralph Arnold Exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Photography. We are so fortunate that our school is right in the heart of downtown Chicago, our classes have easy access to the museum campus, nearby events, and more. Travel for a field trip like this is a simple 10 minute walk down Michigan Ave!
Born in 1928, Ralph Arnold was a Chicago based artist and one of the fathers of modern collage. During the 1960s-1970's his complex photo-collages commented on media, gender issues, sexuality, race, the military, and politics. Arnold drew from his own experiences as a gay, black, military veteran and rose to be a prominent member of Chicago's modern art community, working alongside those like Ed Paschke he created amazing exhibitions. Later in life Arnold focused on education and teaching the young artists of tomorrow!
When we found out the MCOP was going to profile Ralph Arnold in this exhibit, we knew we had to bring our students to check it out! Students were given a private tour and participated in some thought provoking Q & A with our host at the MOCP.
"I believe Ralph Arnolds time in the military proved to be violent as all wars are. It may have been hard for him to fit in with the rest, as he was looked as an outcast being gay as well as African American. Arnold inserts his identity into his artwork by using specific media in his collages. For example, he provokes the audiences' emotions by using graphic images of violence. By doing this, he may be trying to reveal to us how the violence he endured in the war is not too different from that in the streets of big cities as a result of street violence and police brutality." - 3D Modeling & Animation Student, Aaron Bergante.
"Despite viewing Arnold's other art pieces, my mind keeps going back to his piece called The Soul Box. It might be the mixture of different media used in this piece that caught my attention. The Soul Box depicts photographs of African-Americans, a music sheet of the song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and a picture of a watermelon. It also has a picture of a hand painted with the American flag, as well as a few fists in different parts of the piece. It is mostly made of different pictures, a lyrical sheet in a tube shape, a glass marble, a pillar, and a miniature wheel. Seeing this piece makes me feel conflicted, I truly admire its intricacy but at the same time feel upset by the piece because I know the meaning behind some of the objects in the Soul Box... like the racist connotations of watermelons and the song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” This song was sung by escaping slaves and makes me feel upset. I believe that Ralph Arnold created Soul Box in order to convey the hardships and history of African-Americans."
- 3D Modeling & Animation Student, Metzli Castellanos.
After viewing the exhibit our photography students created their own photo collages inspired by Ralph Arnold's work!
Thank you MCOP for an amazing experience, we can't wait to return!
- Until next time. Stay creative, Chicago!