Life Like Art

I incorporate everyday life within my art practice. My @ the carwash series includes a dozen photographs, selected from out of over 100, taken at a car wash in rural Vermont between December 2010 and March 2011. Before beginning this project I had a quiet moment in the automated carwash, where I noticed how captivating the constantly changing water patterns were upon my windshield. In the dead of winter, this was also a reminder of how fluid life is and how permanency is just an illusion.

Laura Di Piazza, He’s Different, 2011, digital photograph

At the conclusion of this photographic project, I read Allan Kaprow’s The Eighties, Essays on the Blurring of Art And Life, which I found to be fascinating. Right off the bat Kaprow asks “What if I were to think art was just paying attention?” (Kaprow 201).  Kaprow defines and distinguishes between, art-like art and life-like art as follows: “art-like art” he describes as popular and even mainstream. There is a neat mental box (aka schema) into which people can comfortably put this art and there are proper “external” places in which to house them. These are cultural institutions  (museums, galleries, concert halls, etc…), which subscribe to the art-like arts separateness. That is: “Mind is separate from body, individual is separate from people, civilization is separate from nature, each art is separate from the other” (Kaprow 202). It is exclusive and lives in a caged bubble. Kaprow goes further to say that these institutions also “share the same separating point of view about art and life; that art could vanquish life’s problems as long as it was far enough away from life so as not to be confused by it and sucked back to its mire” (Kaprow 202).  In sharp contrast to art-like art’s exclusiveness and separateness, life-like art is about connecting art to life and acknowledging that the two can be very much a part of each other.  Kaprow describes the traditional artist as a specialist and the lifelike artist a generalist who has an enormous selection of resources or types of canvases to do her/his artwork. Kaprow’s description of where we can find art and who can find it, reaches far past the limitations of the traditional and commercial art world. The resources of one’s art is inexhaustible in life-like art because it is not bound to the materials of a given art store/supplier and it’s relevance is not dependent on the approval of art critics.

I’ve had other unplanned photographic opportunities to capture art in my everyday life. Below are some additional examples.

Laura Di Piazza, Look Ma the Sky on Our Table, 2011, digital photograph

One cold winter morning I had the rare occasion of having lunch at a local Vermont café with just one of my children (usually we travel in packs), my then four-year old daughter Lucy. Lucy presented me with an opportunity to really look with my mind and eyes open. She said “mommy, look the sky on our table” and I replied ‘huh?’. Again she repeated herself. I paused, I recall being confused. How can one have the sky on a table? Then I looked at what her small little finger was pointing to and then I understood. This was a lovely moment, a Seussical moment (coincidentally just 2 doors down from where Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA Dr. Seuss, lived for several years), where art appears in a nonsensical and unexpected manner.

Laura Di Piazza, Shin, 2011, digital photograph

I took a walk on a bitter cold winter’s morning. The clear blue skies and bright sunshine gave this tree’s shadow crisp clear lines. I photographed it as I did several other trees that morning. Later after downloading the images on my computer, I noticed that this particular tree possessed the Hebrew letter shin, which is considered a holy letter in Judaism that stands for Shaddai, a name for God.