“IF YOU’RE CONSIDERED USELESS, NO ONE WILL FEED YOU ANYMORE.” -JENNY HOLZER
When we were in Naples last December, we visited The Baker Museum. It was my second visit of the year and most of the artworks on display had been updated since my first visit in July. A couple of the new exhibits made a notable impression on me—“The Art of Food” and “Botanical Evolution” by Tamara Kostianovsky.
The Art of Food exhibit at The Baker features works from Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and other famous artists. I was impressed by the entire collection and intrigued by a simple-looking piece by American artist Jenny Holzer. Since the 1970s, she has been experimenting with the use of language in public spaces.
The line displayed on the plaque above is from a poem she wrote called “Survival.” I’m struck by the line itself, as it says so much in just 10 words. When seen on the wall of an esteemed museum like The Baker, the words are magnified in importance.
Maybe to some, a plaque doesn’t seem like art at all. Maybe it reads more like literature or advertising. Maybe we don’t have a definitive answer for what art, literature, or advertising is. Maybe they all blend nicely at times.
Of this, we can be sure… Kostianovsky’s artworks are pieces that only a visionary artist with exceptional hand skills can make. Standing there gazing at her pieces is powerful. According to The Baker, her suspended cow carcass sculptures demonstrate the artist’s concerns about consumption.
I like artists who challenge my thinking and expand my worldview. Artists who make me think, wonder, and appreciate their gifts and exceptional minds. In different ways, Holzer and Kostianovsky both take me to a place of awe and inspiration.