This too shall pass…

Like many, many people living in the US right now, I am experiencing great anxiety about the state of this nation. It’s hard to believe that we will ever extricate ourselves from this free-for-all bog of lying, fear and hatred. A recent visit to the MOMA exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria comforted me by reminding me of my mother’s wise words: ‘This too shall pass‘ – words that got me through some tough times. Hundreds of iconic artworks created over the past 130 years were on display, portraying the challenges that each new decade brought with it.

Walking through the highlights of New York’s Museum of Modern Art collection was like a visual walking tour of history.  The impressionist, cubist, surreal, abstract expressionist, fauvist, modernist and contemporary works revealed the artists’ responses to wars, culture clashes, political upheavals and inner turmoil.

I won’t even begin to attempt to walk you through such a content-rich and complex exhibition – I’ll leave that to the NGV’s curated site. But I will share a few teasers.

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Guess who the Belgian artist is? He went by one name beginning with ‘M’
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Prime example of the Dada art movement. Artist: M_ _ _ _ _D_ _ _ _ _ _
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When John Baldessari created this text painting everyone thought he was crazy. Now it hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York!

I also enjoyed the ephemeral contemporary installation by Roman Ondak, Measuring the universe. This dynamic installation was created by marking the height of individual museum visitors, creating a panorama of human height variables.

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View of installation gallery for Measuring the Universe

On site volunteers stand you up against the wall (just like your mom or dad did then they marked the kitchen doorway to check your growth) and mark your height along with your name and date. The names scribbled by the volunteers one on top of another become a black mass of jumbled individual names ultimately unreadable but representing all of humanity.

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Close up – can you make out where my name is?

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Ondak’s goal in this work is to unite people in a shared action. After all, we inhabit the same universe – that comes with privileges and obligations to treat one another as equals.

(Oh, by the way the Belgian artist’s name was Magritte and the famous Dada artist’s name was Marcel Duchamp).

NEWS UPDATE: I will be teaching a three-day collage workshop at the Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs to accompany my exhibition there in November. Stay tuned!

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Vive la liberté!

When freedom of expression is muzzled, Art withers and dies. We cannot allow our culture to be terrorized and blackmailed. We must stand together to defend our heritage of freedom and creative expression. In the wake of the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, France, it is uncannily timely to announce the upcoming interfaith, peace-building art exhibition in which I will be participating and have played the role of co-curator. The exhibition is titled The Bridge (Le Pont) and will open in Paris at the historic Church of Saint Germain des Pres, the oldest church in Paris.

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I will be traveling to Paris to help set up the show. The exhibition will act as an emissary of peace, traveling from Paris to Brussels, Rome, London, Cairo and the United States for 18 months. I am very honored to have played a key role and to be exhibiting my own painting alongside 46 artists of Arab, Persian and Jewish backgrounds. Below is the image of my painting entitled Narrow Bridge followed by my brief artist’s statement that explains how I found inspiration for this painting in the wise words of a hassidic mystic from the 18th century….

MILGROM Narrow bridge

ARTIST STATEMENT ON ‘NARROW BRIDGE’

“The whole world is a narrow bridge.

The main thing to remember is not to be afraid.”

Rabbi Nachman of Bratislav (1772-1810)

Within minutes of being invited to participate in The Bridge exhibition, the words of a popular Hebrew song began playing in my mind: Kol ha’olam kulo gesher tzar me’od, v’haikar lo lefached. (The whole world is a narrow bridge. The main thing to remember is not to be afraid). I was surprised to learn that these words are attributed to the rabbinical sage, Rabbi Nachman of Bratislav, born in Ukraine in the 18th century and the great-grandson of the founder of Hassidism, a mystical branch of Orthodox Judaism.

These few words have survived intact over the centuries yet they capture the essence of this exhibition. If ever there has was a time to reach across cultures, religions, borders and peoples in order to pull the world back from the brink, it is NOW. My painting ‘Narrow Bridge’ is a crude reminder that in order to bridge our differences we must conquer our fears and reach a hand across that narrow bridge without looking down.

Lilianne Milgrom

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IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN PARIS IN THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY PLEASE JOIN US IN FORGING UNDERSTANDING AND PEACE THROUGH ART. MORE INFORMATION ON THE EXHIBITION HERE.

YOUR COMMENTS WELCOME AT THIS DIFFICULT TIME.

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