Winter Exhibition 2021

For today’s post I am going to be sharing all the events that have happened during the last project which was based around the Manhattan project. This was a longer project so we got to really understand what the Manhattan Project is, and how it has impacted us to this day. We were lucky enough to this year to put on a winter exhibition to show our work, so we had to find some way of demonstrating what we learned. Our teachers put us up to the test of expressing our knowledge of the Manhattan project through conceptual art, and I have a lot to say about that. There is a lot to cover but I thought this was an exciting project and I hope you will think the same after the post is over.

The majority of the beginning of the project was focused on the history of the Manhattan project, so as usual it was a lot of information in a short time. As I learned before I am not the best at understanding a lot of information quickly, and it didn’t help that we were mostly talking about the politics behind the atom bomb. Luckily there were some activities and resources that my teachers prepared for this class. The first was a book called Hiroshima which showed me a different side of the bomb and also lead me to think deeper about what the bomb really meant for those who used it and those who suffered because of it. It also helped me with the next activity which was understanding historical significance and what qualified to fall under the category of historically significant.

There were many different types of criteria by many different people for what should remembered, but I thought they all had a few of the same principle ideas, and the one that I thought best described the criteria was Partington’s Criteria, which had all the major ideas covered.

With these ideas I then was able to construct my own short blog post in which I chose an event which I thought was significant and argued why I thought so. To sum the post up, I chose the invention of the machine gun which transformed warfare and ultimately has changed how war is fought to this very day with new and improved variations being invented all the time. If you want to read that whole post the link is here.

In addition to that post, I also participated in three Socratic seminars that had been prepared by my teachers. The purpose behind these seminars was to challenge our ideas about the book Hiroshima, and for us to express why we thought certain things about the book, however the most important part was that we could back up our reasoning with evidence from the book. Personally I though at the beginning I struggled with doing this as I usually express my ideas and arguments in blog posts, in which I have had time to prepare ideas and research, however this was live and in person. After the first seminar I felt much more comfortable speaking my ideas and using text to back them up, and I am really glad I participated in these activities because it was something I had never done and I think it really pushed me as a learner to improve upon this skill.

With that, I had completed the the knowledge and understanding part of the project, which would be the inspiration behind the art that I had to present at the exhibition. Now I had move to the next part of the project which was understanding conceptual art, the ideas behind the art, and how I could use those same ideas to create my own piece. Personally I found this part far more challenging than the previous.

It all started with the question “what is art”, and we decided there are many different answers to this question, but overall “art” is something that communicates the artists emotions and provokes a reaction from its audience. I agree with this statement, but what I found difficult was understanding and accepting the ways in which artist created this art.

We learned as well that conceptual art, which we would be creating, is a form of art that rejects the traditional canvas paintings and sculptures. I remember the first time I really understood this was when my teachers showed my class the video of Yoko Ono preforming Fireworks by Katy Perry as her conceptual art piece. The video is below and you can probably guess how I felt after watching.

Terrified? Confused? Those are just off the top of my head, but they seem to sum it up. What I think I actually felt after watching this was complete rejection of whatever it was, it pushed me away from accepting this form of art. However I think I benefited a little from it. It really showed me the thing that conceptual artists pride themselves on, which is the idea behind their art instead of the final product, and at least now I knew how my art piece had to be different and not traditional.


It was good an all to know about what conceptual art is, however to really understand it you need to see it for yourself, so that’s exactly what my class did. We took a trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery to visit the Yoko Ono exhibition that was going on at the time. I would say actually seeing the art in person was more interesting than learning off the internet. Being there in person allowed me to interact with the art which definitely made it more interesting, and this idea of interacting with art would become essential when I created my own. I think the art piece I remember the best was the smashed plates which made the audience become the artist and create whatever they felt like with smashed plates. It was that idea of the audience becoming the artist that I had a tough time understanding at first, but I feel like this gallery helped me understand what it meant.

Now I had a good understand about what the Manhattan Project was about, and in addition I had learned more about conceptual art to the point where I thought I might be able to translate my ideas into this art form. It was finally time to put everything together for the exhibition. The problem was I didn’t know what part of the Manhattan Project I wanted to focus on. For this part of the project it was one of those times where an idea hits you without thinking much about it, and the idea I got was one talking about the speech president Truman broadcasted to America after the bombing of Hiroshima. 

“ We have just completed the worlds greatest scientific gamble in history”. I thought it would interesting to focus around this “gamble” for many reasons, but the main ones being his choice of words when speaking to his country. Why would he use the word gamble? It seems risky since he had funded his secret “science project” using government money. The second reason was because I had gotten a great idea about how my art should look.

I decided to take full advantage of the “gamble” and represent my art in the form of Texas Hold‘em . After I decided this from of art everything else seemed to fall into place. The art would show each country betting all their chips in order to win, the audience would deal cards to each country making it seem random, then I would swoop in, rig the game in front of them. Based on the art I saw in the Vancouver art gallery this piece should engage my audience. There was one part that I did not consider that my teachers made me stop and rethink before continuing.

They made me think about what was the idea behind the art, meaning how does this art communicate important issues of the past, but also how do those issues impact us to this day. I think this was final test in for my art, and one that I thought was challenging at first. when my teachers first asked me this I told them about how the art represents the gamble Truman took, and they told me to think deeper, and this allowed me to realize what the real message of my art was. I realized that I was showing the audience how decision of the past shaped our world today, for example because Truman used atomic weapons then, it showed us we can’t repeat these decisions now or else our world would crumble. With that in mind I also saw how the event in history I was recreating was so much more important than I had realized at first. That is  how I was able to improve my art at the last minute, and I think it shaped my project into a far better final product.

With that we have reached the exhibition, a usually quite stressful time, but for some reason I felt very relaxed. Our last addition to our art pieces was the artist statement that helped our audience see the inspiration behind the art. This was quite helpful because I usually can’t communicate all my ideas in such a short presentation time. When creating my artist statement I was able to draw upon past knowledge of the Vancouver art gallery. what I noticed most about the art that caught my eye was that all the interesting information about the art was at the beginning of the statement. That is something I wanted to replicated in my own work, and in addition to that I felt that I did not want my audience to be reading about my art more than they actually spent looking at it. So I kept it short and to the point, only highlighting what I thought they needed to know so they could take the time to actually interact with the art.

Before I knew it the exhibition had begun, and it was probably close to one of the biggest yet. In order to separate our projects we were split into rooms based on our project, and mine feel into the politics, conflict, and warfare room which had five other members ( Thomas,Kaia, Gabe, Fraser, and  Rhiann ).Lots of people came in and out of our room, and at first I had difficulty explaining exactly what we were doing in this project. As the night went on it became easier and I became more confident in how I responded to audience questions. Overall I had a great time at the winter exhibition and I am very proud of the work I was able to produce this time around.

In conclusion I think this project taught me quite a bit. I learned all about the Manhattan project but in addition I also learned about what art is and how it is interpreted in many different ways by all sorts of people. Know that the project is over I can say I now appreciate that this art has influenced and loved by many around the world, however I would still not consider myself one of those people. I can now appreciate the art, but personally I still dislike it, and I think the main reason is because conceptual art values the idea behind the art, where as I value the final product. 

I had a good time with this project and it showed me a little more about my own ideas and how I interpret other peoples expression of ideas.

That’s all for now.

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