The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is a hub of culture and humanitarian exploration. The Fifth Avenue building is home to some incredible works of art spanning across five millennia of our history around the globe. A little known fact about this institution for quality and fine art is that they also run an ever growing online community dedicated to providing access to a library of art and media for free.
The list of free ebooks ranging in many art world topics has reached over five hundred, and now they are proud to include a library of thousands of fine art images available on a creative commons license. This gives anyone with internet access freedom to download and use any image in the database for their own purposes. Media piracy takes the fun out of being an artist but when something from history becomes so famous and well known, then it does seem only fair to open up the ways we can all enjoy it.
The gift of art and culture that is generously given by the museum's team is just pebble on a huge beach of amazing media and culture that circles the web. Archive.org is another institution offering free access to a huge mountain of media from around the world. It is this community that have worked with the Met on Fifth Avenue to bring the open array of works to the general public.
It is hoped that by freeing up some of the cream of the crop in the world of fine arts, that the inspiration and ideas will catch on and encourage others to think like the greats, focussing creativity in ways that only an art school could have done before. Feeding the world with the highest quality for free makes a great deal of sense, we have all heard the line garbage in garbage out. Some of us will always prefer the underground and hidden gems and don't have much care for the works that define the ages through time, but it is still undeniable that the value within such collections is great.
Documenta 14 are an arts exhibition company that have recently been putting on shows in Germany every five years. That is until this year, when they decided to go against the grain and set up shack in Greece. Athens being a cultural icon of geography for art and free thinking, the historic capital city makes an ideal stopping spot for the demonstration of artistic talent. Having Germany and Athens on the menu wasn't enough, however, and now the fashionable and people empowering arts foundation are looking to stage an event in Angola as well.
Africa is in the sights for many investment deals, as nations from the mother of humanity begin to stand on their own two feet, injections of trade and business are necessary to sustain their growth. Arts tend to get over-looked, somewhat as a luxury item for many, the vital need for fresh and thought provoking material for society to digest can be forgotten. Non-evolving cultures can risk stagnation, so it's great to know that this particular firm are more than happy to invest and put on a show.
The Luanda exhibition in Angola will show-case sixteen African artists from varying nations. It will also provide jobs and tourism for the nation. Documenta 14 hope that the triple venue will encourage cultural exchanges and promote the growth of artistic networks across continents.
Subculture and underground music scene photographer Guido Gazzilli has turned his lenses towards the inmates in a small seaside town near Rome. Used to capturing the rebellious streaks and no-nonsense attitudes that go along with individualism, perhaps he is well suited to finding the hidden enigma within those behind bars.
In an interesting artistic methodology, Gazzilli used photographs from his collection to instigate emotional conversations with his subjects. Asking the prisoners to choose which ones spoke to them the loudest about their own life story, the social studies angle could be gleaned from this representation of the self through the medium of symbol and implication.
By asking the inmates to tell their stories with the help of their chosen pictures in front of his cameras, Guido Gazzilli has created an exhibition of photography and a selection of interviews as a recorded documentary. These were premiered in the two prisons used for the making of the exhibition. While spending 22 hours a day in a locked cell, breaking the tough exterior to reach the memories of freedom and hopes for a possible future has resulted in a unique insight into a rare but none the less human experience.
Watch the film for yourself to see how it turned out.
UK artist Slinkachu is enjoying world fame for his unique miniature scenes. In an effort to get us enjoying the little things, and the scenery that we often simply pass by, the surreal photography uses model people to bring new perspectives on otherwise ignored situations.
The photographer entertains a huge Instagram following and offers a website dedicated to selling the official prints. It's truly inspirational to see the imagination being used in this way, and the aesthetic quality of the works makes them fun as well as interesting.
It's been over ten years since Slinkachu began taking photos of the little figures and the ideas keep coming. Some of his works push the guidelines further than others, but that's what art is all about. Often leaving works in situ, or handing them over to the local museum in Ghent, it's quite possible to stumble on one of these unique creations.
Upcycling and education outreach project Liter of Light are inspiring people all over the world to make lanterns from old plastic bottles. Encouraging the young and old to think of ways to reuse things which have served their original purpose is one vital way that we can reduce the amount we waste. Solar powered lanterns made from the protective and durable plastic drinks bottles is just one ingenious idea that can potentially change the world. Lighting up the lives of people in developing nations who do not have access to electricity, the project is offering an affordable and realistic approach to making streets and homes a bit safer and more pleasant.
We tend to take electric lights for granted but millions of people around the world go without it night after night, so finding this cheap and easy way to distribute illumination is a huge benefit to those in the dark. Liter of Light are also part of a major global initiative to educate and pass on green sustainability skills that improve and empower people's lives. What began in the Philippines as a project for locals in impoverished areas has now expanded into a world-wide scheme with many branches.
Watch this video explaining the process of making your own bottle lantern.
June is Immigrant Heritage Month, and for the world of art, it couldn't be more relevant. Culture is made up of people's thoughts and ideas based on the stories and fables learned through life. Life experience is often likened to the scenarios in the cultural heritage and this then governs the way we react and think towards all the influences around us. Enriching culture means exposing artists to a continual flow of new and original ideas and situations that can enter the greater consciousness.
Brian Eno calls it a “Scenius”(The Next Web), meaning the crowd of influences that creative people have. The more diverse this pool of individual souls, the more diverse the ingredients to the creative projects. We are in some ways the sum of our thoughts, (Earl Nightingale) so the more sources for these thoughts the better. The only way to diversify and grow our culture is to add new perspectives and original scenarios to the already firm and staple ones. In this way, putting more templates for how we perceive reality in place for us to think about, we as artists provide a greater scope for how life can be experienced.
Immigrants often have cultures that greatly differ from where they now make their home. The completely new and independently based mindset can be like a huge rock in the still pool of a national culture. Suddenly new ideas and perspectives become integrated like new limbs in the cultural vocabulary. For both sides, at first it can be overwhelming and finding the space to appreciate so much rich and diverse difference can take time. Artists however see a brand new resource for their work. The new cultural directions bring discordances between them and the traditional ones, and this makes brand new material for humanitarian exploration.
Celebrating the diversity of multi-cultural societies isn't difficult. Everywhere we turn we can see the influences of foreign thinking and ideals within daily life. The specialist shops and the places of worship mixed in with the sounds of multi-lingual conversation and the aromas of unusual recipes all add up to a soul nourishing experience.
Here's a video of some famous faces making some supportive noise for immigrants.