A war memorial is a monument to honor those that served and sacrificed. Yet selecting and building a memorial inevitably becomes engaged in reconciling the political voice(s) during the war with its historical referendum later. This was true with the Vietnam war memorials in a paradoxical way. One memorial proposal was selected, two were built.

There was heated controversy in response to Maya Lin’s (blindly selected) winning proposal and ultimately Frederick Hart’s statue was commissioned as a compromise. Lin’s wall environment and Hart’s bronze sculpture differ in the psychological experience each elicits. Lin’s abstract wall epitath motif, with its highly polished surface and extending arms is a holding environment that elicits but contains the grief and mourning of loss. Hart’s realistic bronze sculpture shows living soldiers, allowing a moment of denial and idealization in the face of loss.  The original mission for a single memorial to begin a “healing process” in the national psyche was naive. The attempt to deny at the outset the deep political and emotional splits during and after the Vietnam war led to its symbolic repetition building the memorial ten years after the war ended.

I wrote about how this played out in the Vietnam war memorials and more generally about the internal tensions of mourning, denial, and idealization here: The War and Peace of Vietnam Memorials

We are faced with similar ideological conflicts over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today. Eventually, artists and architects will be engaged to design memorials to honor those who served. Have we learned from the post-Vietnam era how best to come to peace about war? Leave a comment.

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The twitter essence about Kandinsky’s fame would be: Lead art zeitgeist beyond abstraction into nonrepresentational painting activating “inner necessity” emotions, transcendence and spirit.

The gorgeous and sweeping retrospective of painter Wassily Kandinsky at the Guggenheim Museum in NY http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/exhibitions/on-view-now/kandinsky on view until January 17th is a feast for the eyes, and as Kandinsky himself would hope, for the soul. In this show we see three major shifts in his work corresponding to changes in response to world events and his own psychological development. If you didn’t know it, you might not even think it was the same artist – particularly the first two phases.

Throughout his life, there was one iconic image to which Kandinsky ascribed a magical transformative quality: the horse and rider. We could say the horse and rider was Kandinsky’s Avatar, an alter ego or symbolized part of himself that catalyzed and steered him through life transitions, and served as a psychic compass. The horse and rider is everywhere for Kandinsky: in his autobiography, in paintings, as the name of his major art movement, The Blue Rider, and in the very last painting he created before passing on.

Read more: what Kandinsky said about the horse and rider and how it became his Avatar…

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13 Reasons Why stirs up the compelling, infuriating dynamic of a chain letter raised to performance art in this teen suspense novel.  http://www.thirteenreasonswhy.com/book.php Published by Penguin/Razorbill http://www.razorbillbooks.com

Story Snapshot. Hannah Baker has committed suicide, but not before creating and boxing up a set of cassette tapes with instructions to 13 people to visit key places around town while listening to her tapes – and to then mail them to the next person on the list. Clay Jensen is one of the 13 receiving the tapes, one of the 13 reasons why. We hear the story through his narration punctuated by Hannah’s voice on tape but as-if from the grave. Haunting. Clay fears what he will hear but can’t not listen. We journey with him through the events that lead up to the death. He gains a major insight, the book transitions from mystery to parable, ending on an up note and lesson integrated. This is a teen novel about choosing life or death in these crazy times. Its popularity has gone viral with devoted readers and ecstatic blog posts. Why?  That’s one reason to read it and find out. Here are 9 more reasons for adults to read this book …

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