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Lesson Plans


meaning/size/lipstick

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
marcia m eaton (marciameaton)
Sun, 7 Feb 1999 04:58:01 -0500


1.A northeastern university (Cornell, perhaps?) commissioned an artist
(Claes Oldenberg, perhaps?---we philosphers often need help with facts!)
to do a public artwork. He installed a huge statue in the shape of a
lipstick tube. Lots of people were offended---especially some feminists,
and the statue was removed. Here is a definite example of size mattering!

2. Jennifer is inspired to have her students do some miniature quilts for
household items like pillows, placemats. A fine idea---but how will the
meaning change. Will the fact that these are no longer items that keep
people warm make a difference. Also quilts were often made as group
projects and "recycled" material contributed by members of the group, so
that people knew that they were sleeping under Aunt Mary's blouse or Uncle
Henry's shirt or neighbor Jane's apron. Here I think the material was
definitely part of the message. Might Jennifer encourage her students to
use material that has a similar kind of meaning?
3. Someone asked about the pathetic fallacy: Some people believe that it
is a mistake to atttribute emotions(e.g. pathos) or other mental traits to
the physical objects making up an artwork. Since paint on a canvas can't
feel or think or say anything, they argue, we shouldn't say that a painting
expresses sorrow or joy or says that nature is endangered, etc. Obviously
such statements are literally false, but I think that when we say such
things we are aware that we are speaking metaphorically. Still it is a
tough problem to say precisely exactly what we do mean. Do we mean the
painting makes us feel sad, that the painter was sad when she painted it,
that the content is sad. None of these substitutions works in every case.

4. Someone mentioned the fact that big buildings make statements about
privelege. Certainly they do. Just the fact that some things get built or
made and others don't carries a message, doesn't it? The point was also
made that going into a large or elaborate building makes one feel a sense
of power or even privelege perhaps. I agree---though it might also be
intimidating. What is it that makes some public spaces evoke a sense of
nobility or community and others evoke a sense of alienation or even anger?
Best, Marcia


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