We opened our unit in the upper grades by answering the question:
“Will the Internet ever replace the Museum?”
Due to the upswing in social media use, many emerging artists are forfeiting their spot in line to potentially.maybe.one day.probably.never. have the chance to display their artwork along the whitewalls of the Museum in favor of the open-armed Internet.
Apps like Instagram have made it rather simple for artists to splatter the web with their work while gaining enthusiastic followers quickly. This platform, in turn, gives viewers instant access to thousands of artists without the burden of an entry fee or plane ticket around the world.
However accessible Instagram, Facebook and Twitter may be for the every man, there is no denying that they lack the charm and authenticity of stepping foot into some of the world’s most elegant and renowned art museums.
We would all agree that experiencing a work of art in person is preferable.
Or would we?
I recall my visit to the Louvre during my junior year of college while studying abroad in Spain. Finally, I would lay eyes on her. The Mona Lisa.
“Is that really it?” I remember thinking. What a small and shadowy portrait she was. The thick glass that protected DaVinci’s layers and layers of oil paint took all the romanticism away from that moment for me. The wall of trigger happy tourists didn’t help. On a computer screen, I could gaze into Mona Lisa’s wandering eyes. I could ponder the details of her clothing and the texture of her hair. Her smirk was familiar, inviting, cheeky. She was a woman I thought I knew. On the wall of the Parisian museum, she was a stranger. In that moment, the Internet had won.
It was surprising to see how prepared the students were to defend their opinion on this matter.
“The internet allows you to zoom in and see details you may never notice in person,” one student bellowed.
“Yeah, but not everyone has a phone or a computer at home so what about them?” said another.
“Museums are special. It’s a treat to visit them. You go with family or on trips. It’s a special occasion. Think of all of the history inside a museum. The things chosen to go inside have lasted for many years and have earned their place there.”
So many sound and passionate arguments.
I wondered what the students would make of our featured artist, Instagram sensation @paperboyo. How would they receive his work?
Rich McCor, or @paperboyo, transforms famous landscapes from around the world using black card stock and his camera. He plays around with perspective and negative space to create playful photographs that are meant to be consumed by the masses, quickly and casually. He encourages viewers to mimic his style and turn travel photography into something a bit more engaging.
Lonely Planet Kids featured @paperboyo’s work in a how to video hosted by Rich himself, inviting children to see their environment in a new way.
Earlier in the school year, DCPS donated 7 digital cameras to art studios across the city as part of the district-wide Cornerstone initiative. StudioMaury took advantage of our newest acquisition and used them to create photographs of our own paper cut outs in the style of @paperboyo. We aimed to see the studio with new eyes and to insert humor into our work wherever possible.
Enjoy the latest internet sensations from grades 3, 4 and 5 and ask yourself, is this work best consumed online or in person?