Yes, I hate blown glass art and I happen to live in the blown glass art capital of the world, Seattle, Washington. Being a part of the Seattle artistic community, I often get invited to galleries that are displaying the latest glass sculptures by some amazing new/old/mid-career glass blower. I never go. Abstract art leaves me feeling stupid and bored. Perhaps it’s because I grew up inside a tribal culture, on a reservation where every song and dance had specific ownership, specific meaning, and specific historical context. Moreover, every work of art had use–art as tool: art to heal; art to honor, art to grieve. I think of the Spanish word carnal, defined as, ‘Of the appetites and passions of the body.’ And I think of Gertrude Stein’s line, ‘Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.’ When asked what that line meant, Stein said, ‘The poet could use the name of the thing and the thing was really there.’ So when I say drum, the drum is really being pounded in this poem; when I say fancydancer, the fancydancer is really spinning inside this poem; when I say Indian singer, that singer is really wailing inside this poem. But when it comes to abstract art–when it comes to studying an organically shaped giant piece of multi-colored glass–I end up thinking, ‘That looks like my kidney. Anybody’s kidney, really. And frankly, there can be no kidney-shaped art more beautiful–more useful and closer to our Creator–than the kidney itself. And beyond that, this glass isn’t funny. There’s no wit here. An organic shape is not inherently artistic. It doesn’t change my mind about the world. It only exists to be admired. And, frankly, if I wanted to only be in admiration of an organic form, I’m going to watch beach volleyball. I’m always going to prefer the curve of a woman’s hip or a man’s shoulder to a piece of glass that has some curves.’

Sherman Alexie, footnote 3, “Vilify”, Face (2009)

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