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Deep Play Rewrite


     Since reading Ackerman’s “Deep Play” article, I’ve keep an eye out for it in my day to day experiences and have tried to use it as a lens on assigned trips to Philadelphia.  Searching for such an intense and heavily emotion based sense has proved difficult, however, and it’s become even clearer that “deep play” is entirely natural and in the moment.  A hunt for deep play is not fruitful as it involves overanalyzing and planning.  As I open my sketchbook, paint a canvas, or begin a sculpture, I find myself incredibly focused and elated.  I suppose it shouldn’t come as a shock to me that I’ve been experiencing deep play when doing what I love most.  Art has always been a large part of my life and is therapeutic along with enjoyable.

            Ackerman defines “deep play” a number of different ways and uses words such as “freedom”, “thrill” “whole”, and “sacred”.  She states “there are times during deep play when one feels invincible, immortal, an ideal version of oneself”.  When practicing art, I feel as though all problems and worries melt away and the only thing that matters is the piece at hand.  It is remarkably fulfilling and I can feel myself “in the zone” where I am so thoroughly focused.  Deep play is an experience where one gains an extraordinary amount from an event.  It may be an extreme understanding or happiness or simply where “one finds clarity” and an “acceptance of self”.

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Shofuso Japanese House and Gardens

The experience Sontag strongly promotes in her essay of one without judgment or over explanation is one I had in our “Magic Gardens” visit.  I had few expectations and knew little about the garden prior to the visit and did not feel the need to interpret but rather simply naturally experience and enjoy it.  For a self-assigned trip, I would seek out a similar place like Shofuso Japanese House and Gardens.  From the pictures I’ve seen online, the gardens look like a perfect place to relax and reflect without the need to analyze.  

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Barnes Foundation


Visiting The Barnes Foundation a few weeks ago nearly felt like another art history trip to a museum.  Cézanne, Courbet and many other artists we’ve been studying the past few months covered the walls.  As I reflected with Peter Paul Ruben’s The Incarnation as Fulfillment of All the Prophecies, I noticed that much of what came to mind tied in to a previous lesson I had had in that class.  I over analyzed rather than allow myself a natural experience.  Previously, I had given little thought as to how paintings and sculptures in museums spoke to one another.  Barnes successfully ties his collection together through his use of furniture and metal pieces thereby creating his own work of art.  The Art of Steel added to my curiosity and allowed me to question both the motives and decisions behind the move of The Barnes.  There was much controversy behind the choice to change the location to Philadelphia, yet how did it alter the foundation and artwork in the long run?

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The Barnes Foundation Redo

When spending my thirty minutes at The Barnes with Peter Paul Ruben’s The Incarnation as Fulfillment of All the Prophecies, a lot of material covered in my art history class came flooding back.  I found myself spending a great time analyzing the piece based on preconceived notions and facts on classical artwork rather than having my own natural experience with it.  If given the option to relive my Barnes trip, I would have chosen a work of art different than the religious and fairly familiar piece chosen.  When visiting, I was also attached to Van Gogh’s Postman, which I may have had more success writing about as I know little about his style.

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The Incarnation

Standing next to a couple at the Barnes Foundation on Friday, I overheard the woman state that Albert Barnes was an artist.  Each wall is organized with paintings, frames, knives, and hinges hung on top burlap and furniture below.  This was his work of art as he paid a great deal of attention to the ways the pieces spoke and contrasted with one another.  There is a certain balance and symmetry to each wall and Barnes tends to place paintings together with similar tone and hue.  I also noticed that there were rooms and sections of the museum where paintings were clumped together based on whether they were portrait or landscape. 

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17 Border Crossings

I really enjoyed 17 Border Crossings and was impressed with how well Thaddeus utilized his space and objects on stage.  It left me wondering how he was able to master so any languages and the purpose of the majority of the trips.  A few of the stories slightly reminded of my not so horrific airport experiences such as a minor delay when arriving back to the U.S..  I thought Thaddeus really captured the humor and spirit behind the characters through his use of accents and mannerisms.  Overall I was really amazed at how one man could transport us all over the world using only lights, a table, chair, and passport.  

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Deep Play

A summer trip to Mattituck was one of the biggest treats in my young life.  The transition from the stiflingly Manhattan heat to the breeze of Long Island was the perfect escape.  My mother and I made these trips fairly often to visit my Grandfather.  I craved for the beach year round and when June finally came, I was ecstatic.  One particular midsummer day, the three of us took a highly anticipated beach day.  Unlike any we’d taken before, no cars were parked in the lot and no umbrellas perched in the sand.  We had the beach entirely to ourselves.  We swam and soaked in the sun nearly all day and as the sun began to set we strolled up and down the shore.  The three of us walked shoeless and freely until we stumbled upon a collection of shells covered in paint and glitter.  He immediately told me that a mermaid who was decorating her “dishes” and must have leapt into the sea once she saw us approaching and left these behind. 

“Only take one,” he advised “or she’ll be very upset”.

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Eastern State Penitentiary’s Quaker reformers had high hopes to create one of the first revolutionary and successful prisons of their time.  Their model was the largest and most expensive ever erected and soon inspired other prisons and jails across the world.  It’s grand gothic architecture was successful in isolating prisoners and minimizing contact between inmates.  Eastern State was the first prison to offer heating and plumbing in every cell, a luxury not even available to the President in the White House at the time.  Beforehand, prisons treated inmates with extreme physical punishment and labor.  Eastern State took on a new approach where they left criminals alone in their cells to contemplate their wrongdoings and repent.  This horrible neglect did not produce the results that were highly anticipated, however.  Much more torture than privilege, criminals were forced to remain alone in their cell without contact or communication with the outside world.

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ESP Essay

Eastern state will be a new kind of prison, one where the prisoners will spend time alone to contemplate their action, and learn to reform their ways. Eastern State is a marvel of prison technology. Heating and plumbing systems for each cell, a design that absolutely minimizes contact with other prisoners-while there is debate on whether it does what it set out to do, there is no doubt it is a far better prison than any other in America, or even the world.  Eastern state penitentiary is an exemplary pioneer in the pursuit of reforming prisoners through isolation.  It should work cause the nature of human beings is kindness, so as long as they stay alone and contemplate, they will eventually find the way to their true heart.  Isolation is hard to truly come by, though, if achieved, it does encourage contemplation.

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Biculturalism in NW

Zadie Smith’s novel NW is very much a story of struggle that explores dilemmas between several couples and friends.  Two marriages Smith focuses on are Leah and Michel’s and Natalie and Frank’s.  One of the most influential aspects between the couples is their biculturalism.  Nearly all characters face an identity crisis but none so much as Frank and Leah which has a great deal to do with the barriers in each relationship put up by communication problems.   Both Frank and Michel are described in the novel as being “very European” and having a drastically different upbringing.  Due to this large difference, they often have difficulty expressing themselves and understanding others.

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