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Art that Talks

The artwork of Ghanaian artist El Anatsui is majestic in its scale, presence and intent. I was fortunate to see at the marvelous Des Moines Art Center the traveling exhibition of his work, Gravity and Grace, which is well illustrated by the short video above. There was one piece, however, that was utterly compelling to me, and prompted my return to it several times. The piece is called Ozone Layer. While the physicality of the piece was wondrous, and its colorful shimmer captivating, it was the sound that I was hypnotized by. With two hidden fans, many of the individually woven metal scales oscillated rhythmically against each other. This aural experience was art for the ears, conjuring a conversation among the tapestry of metal fragments, varying in tone, clamor and lyricism. It was as if the landscape of this artistic work was a neighborhood, alive on a summer evening, bustling with noise, chatter and belonging. I wanted to join the conversation.

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