EDUCATION IN LA – Marciano Art Foundation

As the skies cleared from a welcome rain, a group of 20 PAA members
arrived at the Marciano Art Foundation. We began our visit with lunch
in the gallery café to accommodate the timing of our private tour before
joining our guide. Priscilla Eilene met us at the entrance and provided
interesting background history of the Scottish Rite Masonic order who
originally inhabited this Millard Sheets designed theater and meeting
hall – now the Marciano Art Foundation.
We then entered the massive Theatre Gallery to view the 3 rd installation
of Ai Weiwei, the Chinese dissident artist who has stormed the city with
a trio of powerful shows. In the Theatre Gallery, Sunflower Seeds (2010)
is composed of 49 tons of individual porcelain sunflower seeds made by
1600 artisans from an ancient porcelain production center in
Jingdezhen, China’s Jiangxi province. This installation further expands
upon reoccurring themes, such as authenticity, the individual’s role in
society, geopolitics of cultural and economic exchange. The work also
brings to mind the propaganda posters of the Cultural Revolution,
depicting Mao Zedong as the sun and the citizens as sunflowers turning
toward him.
Adjacent to Sunflower Seeds is the installation Spouts (2015), comprised
of thousands of antique teapot spouts dating as far back to the Song
dynasty (960-1279). Following Ai Weiwei’s practice of repetition and
multiplication, Spouts can be seen as a metaphor for a mass of mouths
and a widespread yearning for freedom of speech.
Our guide was very generous with her time, allowing us to explore the
2 nd floor gallery and current exhibitions – including Yayoi Kusama’s
exhibition “With all my love for the Tulips, I pray forever.”
We appreciate the planning of our Ed in LA Co-Chairs, Leslie Prussia and
Karen Hillenburg for providing this wonderful excursion.

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