A shrine to the tiny glass bead
This last weekend (friday night, to be exact), Jusje, Buddha, Travis, the Baublets and I went to Late Nights at the Museum, at the Dallas Museum of Art. Normally this is an amazing event, full of great art, music, and free Starbucks. This time, though, our expectations far exceeded reality. First, Starbucks stopped supporting the Late Nights program, leaving us a bit baffled at having to actually purchase our coffee (oh the absurdity of the thing!). And then there was the simply underwhelming art itself.
Fergus Feehily’s painting explores a long-term preoccupation with blurring boundaries, often between non-representation and image, text and drawing. There is an undertow of anxiety and ambiguity in his work, an unsettled searching in its making.
I guess if when they say "ambiguity" the mean "complete lack of artistic creativity" and "unsettled searching" they mean "confused attempt at recreating the artwork seen a few halls down, in the glitter-glue-and-tissue-paper Kid's Craft Section of the museum" then I'd have to agree with them.
But really all of this "is it really art" discussion is just banal echo heard over and over again at every museum in the world. I have little interest in debating what is and isn't art. What really interests me was what Feehily placed in the center of his exhibit.
In the very middle of the room, there's this looming glass case with only a tiny, single bead in the center. It's displayed on a bed of black velvet and given a large sign saying only: "Striped African Bead."
We laughed, to say the least, and talked about how silly it was to make an entire display case protect a solitary, worthless piece of glass. But then I just had this overwhelming sense that this is what I do everyday. Every single day, I take my prized yet worthless glass bead—be it my job, my pride, my art, my free time, or my ego—and I enshrine it in a protective glass case. 'Look at that beautiful, priceless piece,' I say to anyone who will stop. 'That's mine and I've worked hard to make that.' God sees this and he pities me and shakes his head sadly. 'But I have this priceless, unique pearl, the size of your fist. Wouldn't you rather protect and treasure this?' I look at him and laugh. 'Why would I want that when I have this amazing bead?!'
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. - Matthew 13: 45