18 April 2013

nourishment

Susan Morehouse, English professor at Alfred University, talked to us about "Why I liked Brave: a memoir of motherhood and the movies" at today's Bergren Forum. I'm never seen any of the Disney princess movies but her talk was intriguing in many ways. Morehouse, a self-described "second wave feminist," talked about dead mothers, absent (absent-minded) fathers, overbearing and bearishness, Disney princess hair (wild hair and wild women), and vulnerability. The thing that may stick with me is her description of the mother in Brave who doesn't eat. We're not talking eating disorder but that the role of mother/woman is starving her. The relationship of physical and mental wellbeing is so close.

And then as I was eating lunch after the talk, I was reading Holland Cotter's review of the Claes Oldenburg show just opening at MoMA in New York City. The second-floor atrium has the Mouse Museum and the Ray Gun Wing. The sixth floor has "The street and the store," showing his works from the late 1950s and into the 1960s, back when I fell in love with his work. I was in the same space during grad school when we Case Westerners went to Oberlin to see the dedication of a large plug in the yard of the Allen Memorial Art Museum. Cotter's review ends:

"Certainly little of the city's constituent material escaped [Oldenburg's] devouring but inventively discriminating hunger. The evidence is there in the mini-museums, but also in the work upstairs. Most of the 1950s and '60s sculpture is relic fragile now; maybe it always was. But it still does at least a couple things Pop Art was meant to do. Like advertising it makes the everyday world look larger -- grander, grosser -- than life. And it confirms that art, with all of its deceptions, contradictions and empty ethical calories, is a form of nourishment we can't seem to get our fill of."

Food's great. The mixed fresh catch of the day pictured above was easily consumed in Palermo in early March. But as wonderful as food can be, it's still the mix of physical, mental, and visual food that sustains me.

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