Last week I had the pleasure of watching a takeover of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Instagram account by one of their resident artists, Alberto Aguilar. Normally, finding out that an organization has asked someone to manage their account for a day or week is nothing to write home about. I’ve follow other Instagram accounts that have given over control to an individual in the past.
Alberto’s takeover was different.
Alberto is a visual artist who focuses on documenting a moment in time and, even more importantly to note, on his and others interactions with that moment. I would venture that when you think Art Institute of Chicago your first thought is not Alberto’s style of work. You are probably more likely to think of old masters, the Chagall window, maybe even the lions standing guard in front of the building … all of the things that the Art Institute normally shares on their Instagram feed.
There were many unhappy comments throughout the week by followers. There were arguments between strangers about the validity of Alberto’s posts as art. There was encouragement and support offered.
All in all, Alberto made people THINK about art. They were no longer being spoon fed long established ideas of what “good” art is and instead were placed in the direct path of having to decide for themselves.
He made me think. His work forced me out of my comfort zone and view of the world around me. Even sitting here, owner of a crazy found object collection and a collector of shoe prints in clay, I’d like to think I’m predisposed to look at things beyond their normal function and purpose. I found out this past week that there is definitely room for me to expand beyond my normal viewpoint.
I’m already brainstorming how to best incorporate my learnings from this past week into my work and my teaching. In the meantime, I encourage you to explore Alberto’s world yourselves either via his website, Instagram account or his takeover of the Art Institute’s account (viewable via smartphone or computer).