This episode, written and performed by the Museum's summer 2007 high school interns, brings the Studio Craft movement to life.
Narrator: The podcast episode you're about to hear was written and performed by high school interns at the Metropolitan Museum during the summer of 2007. It represents their observations, interpretations, and unique perspectives.
Intern 1: Hello, there. We are the high school interns at The Metropolitan Museum of Art for the summer of 2007. Today you will be listening to a podcast inspired by the exhibit entitled One of A Kind: The Studio Craft Movement, running until December 2, 2007.
Professor: Welcome, class. Today we have a very special tour of the Arms and Armor gallery at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This piece of armor here was worn by Henry V in the infamous battle against the French at Agincourt during one of his many campaigns . . .
Student 1: Yo, yo! This is so lame!
Student 2: I know. Wanna get out of here?
Student 1: Yeah, totally. Get those two and we'll peel off.
Student 3: Let's go to the Studio Craft exhibit. It's supposed to be wild!
Professor: Moving on, we see . . .
Student 2: Okay, wait, wait. . . . Okay, go, now. Go while he's walking.
Student 1: Oh, thank God we got out of there!
Student 2: Yeah, I know. This One of a Kind exhibit looks pretty cool, though.
Student 1: Wait, guys, can someone quickly explain what craft art is, exactly?
Student 2: Well, basically a craft artist does everything related to the piece—you know, comes up with the idea, designs it, and executes it. Everything in this show is from the Craft movement.
Student 3: You know, I think I heard there was this really awesome piece here . . . oh, yeah, this sculpture: Mother Dürer by Robert Arneson.
Student 4: Woah, this creeps me out, man.
Student 2: It's supposed to, I think. I mean, that's what California Funk was all about, right?
Student 4: What?
Student 3: California Funk? You seriously don't remember? We studied this, like, two weeks ago.
Student 4: Hey, it's second semester, I haven't done anything second semester senior year. Chill out.
Student 5: All right, well, the California Funk movement was basically West Coast pop art of the fifties and sixties. They made, you know, weird, weird stuff, combining things like leather, steel, fur, clay . . . I mean, the whole point was to be as shocking and provocative as possible.
Student 3: Yeah, he did something really great. Arneson took ceramics to a new place, you know, so it wasn't just decorative? He made statements about pop culture that were humorous but also poignant, which is a lot of what the whole Funk thing was about.
Student 1: Well, that's cool, but look, it's called Mother Dürer, as in Albrecht Dürer. Wait, guys, wasn't there some really famous portrait that he did of his mom?
Student 4: Oh, yeah, he did make one. It was something like two months before she died. It's pretty intense. He did such a realistic representation of what she looked like. And she was pretty weathered, too. You know she had eighteen kids?
Student 2: Uh . . . why do you know this?
Student 1: Whatever, guys. The two pieces are pretty similar, though I don't remember her being as grotesque as this. In Dürer's original, she looked pretty docile. Don't you think Arneson's version looks kind of threatening?
Student 3: Yeah, but that's what I love about it! I mean, look how he stylized her: she's got these huge, oval eyes, you know, like, hollowed pupils; long, jagged nose; and those thin lips that make her look like she's snarling. I mean, overall, this thing's really imposing.
Student 4: Uh, is it just me, or isn't that making her look bad? I mean, Dürer was just trying to reveal some truth of his mom's situation; showing what she'd been through rather than beautifying her.
Student 1: I don't think Dürer was trying to make her look bad at all. See that veil that she's wearing? Back in the day, that veil would have represented—
Student 2: Wait, what day? What are you talking about?
Student 1: The German Renaissance, man. Back then, that veil would have represented her reverence for God and love of her kids.
Student 3: Yeah, not on this veil, though. Look at all the stuff that's written on it:
Student 1: "Be beautiful."
Student 2: "My eyes are too round and my lashes are invisible."
Student 4: "My cheekbones are everywhere."
Student 3: "My skin is too oily."
Student 1: "HELP ME, MERLE."
Student 2: "My tits are too saggy."
Student 4: "My nose is too long."
Student 3: "My face is so blotchy."
Student 1: "Now it's your turn to be beautiful."
Student 2: "I hate those bags under my eyes."
Student 2: Well, isn't that just the written expression of the artist's view of beauty? They're all about beauty and what it is and what it isn't. This woman's thoughts—her worries—are all engrained on this veil. These visions of beauty are literally hanging over her head.
Student 5: Yeah, but remember what you were saying before about statements on pop culture? I mean, that's exactly what this is. Arneson taxes her features even further than Dürer, so as to make a criticism on the standards of beauty in the sixties and seventies.
Student 2: Yeah, and a lot of these statements are still relevant today. I mean, when you think about it, nothing's really changed, right?
Student 4: Dude, I don't think any of us want to believe that 2007 and 1970 are anywhere near similar.
Student 2: Yeah, but can't you just see it? I mean, what if Arneson were doing this piece today? What would he write on the veil now?
Student 1: "My hair is too frizzy."
Student 2: "My boobs are too small."
Student 4: "My butt is too huge."
Student 3: "My arthritis is acting up."
Student 1: "Arthritis, man? No, Clean, Clear, & Under Control."
Student 2: "My teeth are falling out."
Student 4: "I'm too fat for my skinny jeans."
Student 3: "My eyebrows are so bushy."
Student 1: "My Rogaine isn't working."
Student 2: "My laugh lines are too prominent."
Student 4: "I need Botox . . . again."
Student 1: Ooh.
Student 4: But when you think about it, aren't the two similar in their conceptions of beauty?
Student 3: Dürer and Arneson? Yeah, I guess. I mean, Dürer thought perfect beauty wasn't attainable in art; Arneson thought perfect beauty wasn't attainable, period.
Student 1: Guys, but we don't know what his intentions were. What if he was trying to say other things about beauty? I think he was saying that perfection is impossible and that we'll all end up looking old and haggard like Mother Dürer someday anyway.
Student 4: Yeah. And that striving for things that we'll never be able to get will just turn us into bitter people. I mean, think about Dürer's original portrait of his mother. She's still old, right? But she looks a lot more complacent than Arneson's, even with all her ailments.
Student 1: Wait, guys. What does this one say? "A beautiful new makeup that can give you whatever look you want." Oh my gosh, guys! Did you guys see what's on the back? It's so cool!
Student 2: Ha! See this? Look what he wrote: "Albrecht, stop looking at all the naked girls!" He even drew them.
Student 4: Hey, I think those are Dürer's drawings, too. He had some anatomical studies that look exactly like that.
Student 1: I know, too bad it's all the way up against the wall. I'll bet you half of the people that pass by don't even see it.
Student 3: Yeah. Whether or not Arneson wanted it to be hidden in the first place, you really need to think outside the box to find it.
Professor: Yes, just as I had to think outside of the box to find you.
Students: But . . .
Professor: Seeing as you've all become quite the experts on the Craft movement and this particular piece, I expect twenty pages on this exhibit from each of you by Monday.
All Students: Bummer!
Intern 4: The podcast was both created and performed by the following interns. Guys, introduce yourselves:
Student 5: Hi! I'm Elizabeth McCarthy, co-author of the podcast.
Professor: Hi, I am Mark Szalkiewicz, and I am co-author of the podcast, as well as the voice of the professor.
Student 1: Hey, my name is Marina Zarya, I'm reading for one of the students.
Intern 2: I'm Ali Wilkinson.
Student 3: I'm Diane Fernandes, and I'm playing one of the students.
Student 4: Hello, I am Justin Lokossou, and I play as one of the students.
Student 2: I'm Yevgeniya Ryaboy and I play one of the students.
Intern 3: I'm Lauren Christensen.
Intern 1: I'm Rachel Kahn, I read the introduction.
Intern 4: Hi, I'm Victoria Namanworth. This has been and Antenna Audio Production. Special thanks to Sarah Lidgus and Rae Cohen. And the Education Department, Terry Russo, Aimee Dixon, Florence Umezaki, and Jessica Glass.
Narrator: Mother Dürer was created in 1979 by the American-born artist Robert Arneson. It was given to the Museum by Joyce and Jay Cooper in 2000.