On Exploring Galleries in Chelsea
Bloomberg Studio Institute interns Eva and Mikey explored Chelsea’s gallery district on the first day of their internship. Together, they reflected on how galleries can create new contexts for experiencing art despite their imposing presence.
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Mikey and Eva:
On our first day as interns at Children’s Museum of the Arts, we spent the afternoon visiting art galleries in Chelsea. These visits wouldn’t be for the simple reason of looking at artwork on display, but also to examine the gallery itself and how it interacted with the public. Our experience changed how we look at galleries in the future.
Galleries have been a part of who I am since childhood. My parents introduced me to the world of art the moment I came out of the womb. Growing up, they would take my sister and I to different shows and events, which built the foundation for my love of artwork. The first time my parents took us to a gallery, I was overwhelmed by the creativity, as well as the tidy area surrounding the vibrant artwork. That fascination has remained with me throughout the years, but it has become replaced with curiosity. Instead of solely looking at the colors and beauty of the work, I began to question the formatting of the galleries and the purpose behind the work. When CMA asked us to visit one of the many galleries in Chelsea, I was excited to not only view the work, but to also consider the area and feelings I experienced during the trip.
When we reached the first gallery, I immediately thought, “Should I be here?” The building seemed to loom over us, sleek and tall, surrounded by glass that reflected the buildings around it. The building was a symbol of superiority and a constant reminder of the power of wealth to shape the world around us. In this split second of realization, I snapped back into reality and wondered, “Do I belong here?”
Once my fear of entering the building subsided, I built up the courage to push the door open, wondering what would happen next. I heard a loud clunk — I had failed to open the door! I stopped for a moment confused, thinking the door was locked or that we weren’t allowed in the building. Suddenly, an older woman (with much prestige in her walk) exited the building, and that’s where I realized my mistake. I had pushed a “pull” door. Once I pulled on the door, another obstacle emerged. “These doors are insanely heavy”, I thought to myself. It felt as though I were trying to move a boulder out of my way! I understand that the heavy doors are meant to prevent theft and maintain temperature balance, but these doors in particular became an obstacle for a person to simply enter the space.
Despite my momentary struggle with the door, the artwork was breathtaking. I was surrounded by vibrant colors, mesmerizing brushstrokes, and masterful composition. I was taken aback by the beauty, creativity, and passion of these artists. I could tell that these artworks touched on societal conflicts, emotions, and the artists’ personal experiences. While I felt honored to be able to witness that work, I wondered if the gallery’s imposing presence prevented people from witnessing this astonishing work.
As a whole, galleries are a terrific place to experience an artistic environment in addition to the artwork itself. There is always something new to discover – the way artists express themselves, the areas they choose, and the formatting they decide for their art. Seeing different cultures and perspectives is an amazing way to get insight into the artist’s point of view. Though it might seem like there are barriers to entry, visiting galleries is an amazing, unforgettable experience that I will always recommend to others when in Chelsea.
I found this experience to be helpful and enlightening, especially for someone like me who doesn't visit galleries very often. I have only ever been to museums, which is why I think this experience was important for me. Galleries had never been a large part of my life, as my pursuit of art was usually explored through the internet. However, physically interacting with art and art installations in a gallery context has helped me to gain a new perspective on the art world.