Saturday, September 19, 2009

Butchers, Dragons, Gods & Skeletons

Wednesday we went to Violin lessons and afterward to the Kimbell Art Museum for the film based on paintings exhibition by Philip Haas called Butchers, Dragons, Gods & Skeletons. It was extremely awesome.

We've never stayed more than an hour or so at an art museum, sometimes our visits have been just 30 minutes before boys are tired and ready to go home. This time we were there for over 2 hours and it was me telling them we had to leave and head home. Part of that is growing up and repeated exposure to the art museum, but a large part of it was how awesome these installations were.

Based on the artists' research in to 5 pieces of art that are permanent at the Kimbell, he created films that are whimsical and poetic and make you feel like you are inside the paintings and/or seeing them created. The unconventional formats of displaying the films were fascinating, and then there was just so much to see in the films. We watched them several times, going around and looking at other paintings with new eyes. Many questions were asked, and I was reading a lot of plaques that normally are not interesting. Both boys at some point sat down and just looked at a painting for several minutes, heads cocked to the side, deep in thought. (Different from the ones the films were about no less!)

I feel like film is a medium my kids have experienced a LOT in their short lives and the way it connected them to these paintings really helped them understand more about the paintings and how much of a story was inside them. Paintings are different from photographs, but aren't a huge part of our every day life, and they are learning about them from our visits to art museums. These exhibits really helped a lot.

Amusing to me also was the dire warnings outside two of the films of nudity within the films. One film had a museum guard whose apparent job was to warn anyone entering about the fact that there was male nudity in it. I guess the other film that only had breasts wasn't considered shocking enough to need a guard, but it had a large sign. The thing is, the nudity wasn't inappropriate - it was true to the paintings and what was being represented. In my opinion, to be offended by it would be like being offended by the famous statue of (naked) David.

One of the films was about Greek gods and goddesses and so there were some breasts. The other was actually based on a Greek bowl with the story of the death of Pentheus on it and had some naked men dancing as they made wine or something. Most of the time the nudity wasn't even obvious in that one. I don't know, it just didn't seem like a big deal to me. To prevent my kids from seeing naked artwork doesn't make sense either, since I don't think they should feel shame about their bodies. Neither of my boys asked or pointed out any nudity, and they asked a lot of questions and made a lot of comments. It wasn't even an issue to them.

If we're going to get picky, the film about the butchers shop with all the blood and large pieces of meat should of had a warning for being graphic and the skeleton movie was pretty scary to my kids and should have had a warning. Both of them declared it would give them nightmares, so we walked out of it several times, and then they'd want to return (perhaps working up their nerve?). They have seemed fine so far though and no nightmares reported yet. The fifth film with the dragon was based on a Japanese scroll painting and was too metaphorical for them I think. They liked it but were mostly confused and asked a lot of questions but didn't seem satisfied with my answers.

The two films with nudity were favorites - not because of the nudity - but because of the Greek themes, which are current interests of the boys, thanks to their interest in the games Age of Empires & Age of Mythology. Dinoguy wanted to know more about all the gods in both stories and so we'll be picking up kid friendly greek mythology library books next week.


Screwed Up Texan said...

I never take my children to educational places like museums, but perhaps I should work up the nerve to. For me, I think that having all three of my boys at a museum would be similar to how your boys felt watching the skeleton movie...we're going to have to work up to it.

Gosh I am so unsophisticated.

KMDuff said...

Ooh, don't call it "educational", that takes all the fun out of it!

Stephanie said...

I have yet to take mine. (I know!)
I just haven't dared, yet. But I'm screwing up the courage. Even if it's for an hour, that's something.

I loved reading about this! Course, I've never understood about the neked thing, has never been a big deal to me or mine. Just not something that's shocking. (As you I'm sure know.)

That's so great that you go! And I love that the boys (and Munchkin?) had such a great time.

We're studying mythology, too, casually. Trev saw something the other day, and asked "Is that Perseus?" :)

KMDuff said...

Munchkin was happily asleep on my front most of the time in a wrap. So she had a good time, but she's easy to please. :)


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