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The Palmer Museum of Art: the Trippiest Place on Campus

The Palmer Museum of Art is about as artsy as Penn State gets. Every year it houses the SOMA Arts Crawl, and people are pretty excited about the whole “they have a Picasso in there” thing. I went there today and within the first ten minutes I saw not one but TWO men wearing berets. If that’s not artsy, then I guess I don’t know what artsy is.

For those of you who want to feel mega-cultured but are too tired to actually walk all the way there, I did you a solid and compiled a list of the craziest things worth seeing:

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Fugue, 2010 Kenn Bass (Penn State Alum)

The picture is poor quality because the actual piece is a video located in the Uncanny Congruencies Exhibit on the second floor. I stood and watched this three screen montage for maybe half an hour, and I think that I was successfully hypnotized. The video plays footage of wolves, birds, and melting ice on repeat.

The plaque next to the piece, however, informed me that “Fugue is meant to encompass the body of the viewer within a visual pulse that questions the assumption of a fixed state of perception and position in space,” Kenn Bass said.

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Particle Dynamics, 2007 and Particle Antiparticle, 2008 David W. Young (Penn State Alum)

These two pieces are also located in the Uncanny Congruencies Exhibit. My initial reaction was “huh?” I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to sit in the chair or not, but I played it safe and stayed on the sidelines. I didn’t even bother guessing what this one was about. I went straight to the plaque. “I use the sphere as a point of contemplation, the representation of an imaginative act or spiritual moment,” David W. Young said. Huh?

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Birth of the Universe #2/ The Crown Jewels, 2011 Judith Bernstein (Penn State Alum)

I was all about the colors in this one. I especially enjoyed the fact that it looked kind of like a finger painting of two very happy amoebas. It really appealed to my youthful nature. Or so I thought. Turns out, they’re supposed to be phallic, which puts a whole new spin on the title, The Crown Jewels.

“My work is an image of the 70s—an image reflecting a sexually aware age on a widespread basis, an age where women are demanding equality on all levels. The phallus and all it stands for is not exclusively a male image,” reads Judith’s plaque. A little bit of feminism up in here. I like it even more now, rise up sister!

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Young Woman Holding a Sheet of Music, 1755 Louis Jean Francois Lagrence

I threw this one in for all you lovers of the classics! After all that modern art, this piece located on the first floor was refreshingly traditional! I like it because is this gal sassy or what? Head cocked to the side, eyebrow up — this young woman has a secret and she’s not telling ANYBODY.

With no plaque to tell me what was really going on here, I made a few guesses of my own. The hat’s a real statement, so I focused on that. From what I know of Art History, it probably has some sort of symbolic significance. Most likely power, it’s always power. The lighting probably says something about naïveté.

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Gray Alice, 1983-87 Tim Rollins and K.O.S (Kids of Survival)

My final choice is one that I found on the second floor. It’s nice because it reminds me of what I see when I close my eyes. Also, it’s not too intimidating because I feel like I could do it myself. The black paint is actually covering pages from a book. I can’t tell which book they defaced, but I hope it was something meaningful like Twilight.

The story of the Kids of Survival is actually pretty cool, though, it was an art program for “at risk” students in the South Bronx. Their pieces can be found in galleries across America and even in Germany and Switzerland. Not sure how this found its way to Central Pennsylvania after all that, but we’re happy to have it.

So, with that, I conclude that the Palmer Museum of Art is the trippiest place in Penn State. I’m still really trying to figure out what David W. Young meant about my particles. Nonetheless, I recommend a trip to the museum for anybody who’s craving a heaping helping of weirdness.

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