So I'm heading off to the Art Institute of Chicago tomorrow with one of my best friends from college who is visiting me! I'm so excited, especially to go to this museum with someone who was an art major with me back in college.
The piece called, Hinoki, by Charles Ray, is carved out of Cyprus wood and occupies an entire gallery in the modern wing, and rightfully so. It is a gigantic sculpture of a broken tree trunk. Sounds simple, in fact I'd say I saw a lot of people glance at it then determine they didn't want to look closer and left that gallery. It's true, at first you think it's just a broken tree trunk. You might think, as so many people do, why is this art? But then as you look closer, you see the details, the shapes of the limbs, see how it hollow in the center, then suddenly you realize you're looking at something that's man made! I love it when art surprises you like that. I remember physically stepping back because I was taken aback almost. Love having that reaction to art, I think Ray would appreciate it too.
That's when I turn to the plaques on the wall (which I don't think people look at enough; curators put those there for a reason people!). Ray actually says of the piece "master woodworker Yuboku Mukoyoshi and his apprentices carved my vision into reality using Japanese cypress (hinoki)." Such an interesting concept, the artist commissioning another artist to create the piece for him. He goes on to talk about how he loved the idea of having this woodworker create his piece because they really do create impeccable recreations of objects. I liked the thought, plus it's always nice to hear directly from an artist about their work. If you'd like to read Charles Ray talk about this piece in how own words, go here.
I admit I was surprised to see that this work was created by Ray, I'm more familiar with his sculptures (pictured below) of humans and ink boxes. But I think this work was more impacting and memorable and I certainly look forward to seeing it again tomorrow!