One of the voices that fluttered around in my apartment this weekend was that of the tree-sitting, environmentalist, Juliette Binoche-Rachel Weisz lookalike Julia Butterfly Hill. Here is one of the weirdest, and making art instrumental without really looking at it gallery “tours” I have ever seen or heard, featuring Jullia Butterfly Hill, and the galleries of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
It has me thinking about how to, and how not to incorporate people not making or studying art into museum education. I’m frustrated by listening to Hill talk about a William Merritt Chase (Big June Shadow, 1897) painting without ever mentioning its facture, its visual qualities, or the historical context in which it was made. Ironically, the Chase is a sort of blasted landscape – the image of a stump on a riverside park, with a built skyline behind this park. Without doing any research on the image, it strikes me as likely that Chase was as critical as Hill is herself of industry’s abuses of Nature. The picture epitomizes the changing landscape, both as image and as space. Hill wants everyone to realize they’re an artist. But she’s not even looking at the art in front of her. And I hold the IMA responsible for contributing to a trivialization of art while trying to make it accessible.