Monday, December 3, 2012

'Drawing Together' at the FIA

The Flint Institute of Arts is showcasing an exhibit of winners from past Aydin Dogan International Cartoon Competitions. No words, limited context--just cartoons doing what cartoons do best.

The museum has taken a compelling approach to this content in providing pencils and sticky notes on each wall of the exhibition. Visitors are encouraged to record their thoughts and impressions of the images for review by future museum-goers. Suddenly, a 1997 Ricardo Bermudez cartoon commenting on the Cuban political process is also about, simultaneously, President Obama and Governor Romney; a 1983 Dutch cartoon by Jan van Wessum, criticizing the allure of television over books, is also about cell phones and laptops and iPads and one concerned visitor's despair for future generations.

Pedestrian consumers of the visual arts, among whom I count myself, feel more comfortable formulating opinions about cartoons than about other forms of artwork because cartoons present as simplistic. This is also why I think cartooning--good cartooning--is the best kind of art. Thought-provoking yet accessible, rich yet digestible: in no other medium can so little say so much to so many. You can learn historicity from Maus, East-West relations from Persepolis, how to be a human from Calvin and Hobbes. Cartoons are the art of the people.

The FIA's post-it format capitalizes on this maxim, and, in so doing, reveals how complex these works can be. The only thing more stimulating than reading cartoons, I've found, is reading cartoons with a crowd.

The exhibit runs until December 30, 2012. While you're there, don't miss the stateside perspective in "Worth a Thousand Words: American Political Cartoons," which is available until January 3, 2013.

If you're thinking of making a day of it in Flint, check out our quasi-guide to the city.

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