I am in awe of how much I read in March. And in love. I felt like my brain was sparking and sparkling all month long. I do love to read and think. Now I need to figure out how to write more about these shiny new ideas.
My favorites from the month:
Seven Days in the Art World, by Sarah Thornton
Just Kids, by Patti Smith (both described here)
String, Felt, Thread: The Hierarchy of Art & Craft in American Art, by Elissa Auther
This one was where I first started feeling like I was waking up from a long sleep. Reading about art theory and criticism and understanding it, referencing the notes and the bibliography, realizing I had some of the books referenced already and then getting a bunch more for my birthday... it made me feel hungry. In the words of J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sounds, "I want - what? More - what? More - what? More. I want some more!"
"Expeditions" (Milwaukee Art Museum)
This accompanied the exhibit of Isaac Julien's film pieces "True North", "Fantome Afrique", and "Western Union: Small Boats" at the Milwaukee Art Museum. We'd gone last summer (we love this museum) but with the kids, so I only got a quiet few minutes viewing "Western Union: Small Boats." I haven't seen much video art so had nothing to compare it to, but I loved standing in that room, hearing the sounds of the water and entraced by the images and wondering, what is being told here? When I saw this in the gift store I picked it up hoping I would learn more about the artist (I love buying exhibition catalogs as a souvenir of museum visits), and I did, but I was also impressed with the critical essays, and the way the photos were laid out gave a sense of the piece itself, the pace and the scale. I also have some new books to consider from the essay notes!
Bright's Passage, by Josh Ritter
Right from the beginning I was so concerned for the characters that I could barely read this. Except of course it is a breath-taking book. From his songs I knew he writes beautifully, and is skilled at story-telling, but I also knew he wouldn't necessarily keep us from heartbreak! In the end I had to peek ahead, just enough to see if I could stand to go on. And even then I was surprised - mark of a good storyteller again! I'm hoping we can go see him in concert at the end of the month. And I was very happy to see in a recent interview that he's at work on his second novel.
African Art (Taschen Books), by Stefan Eisenhofer.
Interesting introductory essay, detailing not the history of African art, but rather a brief history of Western engagement with African art (the pieces included here are ones that have been particularly valued by Westerners over time). And then the images were beautifully photographed with a short essay about what is known about them. I felt the image essays got repetetive after a while, and I wished for a resource list or even notes, but this definitely made me want to learn more.
Food & Faith: A Theology of Eating, by Norman Wirzba
Beautiful. I think for me the purpose of reading theology is to feast on thinking in new or fresh ways about God (or a reminder of valuable ways to think about God), which then opens me anew in how I orient myself to God. One biblical phrase I have been living by is from Romans 12: "Be transformed by the renewing of your minds" and this book is an expansive example of that. I have so much underlined here (and there are such a marvleous notes and bibliography) that I think this will continue to feed me for a long time. Funnily enough, I wouldn't say that I came away with much new about food or eating, perhaps because these are already concerns of mine, but with much, much new to think about the Trinity, the Eucharist, and kenosis theology.
And these were just the ones I thought were especially good (or especially likely to get me thinking/reading more)! April seems to be moving more in the direction of Africa, I've read a couple already though I've just started chewing on a dense book on modern art and three female artists.