Art Gallery podcasts increase public access to Univ. art expertise

For art junkies who aren’t satisfied with their daily art history lecture or for those not yet to be exposed to Yale’s art culture, the Yale University Art Gallery has a solution.

Though the YUAG launched its first podcast last spring, this fall marks the beginning of its first monthly series, titled “Art Talk.” Narrated by Elyse Nelson ’09, each five- to 15-minute episode will address art topics pertinent to the University and the local art community as a whole.

The museum’s first podcast entitled “Sound Off: Music and Art,” which aired last spring, was developed by Nelson, then head gallery guide, and Aja Armey, the gallery’s museum educator, and it investigated the intersection between art and music.

The 45-minute recording featured Jacob Cooper MUS ’07, who — along with artist Elizabeth Gray — explored the relationship between the two mediums, particularly in relation to the work of composer Steve Reich and artist Sol LeWitt, according the YUAG Web site.

“It was very interesting for me to work together with an artist,” Cooper said. “It was nice to see how we were able to go back and forth and see how art related to both of our fields.”

For last month’s podcast, Nelson interviewed both Yale students and members of the general public at the gallery’s Sept. 6 Open House, surveying their opinions on the gallery’s motto: “What is art, and why does it matter?”

In one interview included in the podcast, Gallery Guide Alice Shyy ’08 likened experiencing art to viewing another’s teddy bear — no matter how odd or ragged it may look, a teddy bear is embraced by its owner, who will encourage others to embrace it as well.

For Shyy, the podcasts will help to present art in an accessible format.

“As a gallery guide, I have made it my mission for people to feel comfortable with how they feel about art,” Shyy said. “Art can be perceived as pretentious, and people can shut down when they talk about it, but I think the podcasts will change that and awaken unrealized interest that people have in art.”

Jorge Gómez-Tejada ART ’13 believes addressing the gallery’s motto through the podcast is important because it concerns the public’s basic questions about art.

“It was central for the podcasts to set the tone for reflection about the function of art in life,” Gómez-Tejada said. “The podcasts will build a bridge within all capacities of the art community and will extend to people who should be incorporated in our community by addressing such basic questions.”

Topics that Nelson hopes to tackle in future podcasts include an interview with Alvin Lucier, a contemporary composer who created a piece based on the Sol LeWitt wall drawings in the gallery’s lobby, and an expansion on the gallery’s acquisition of Gerald Murphy’s painting, “Bibliotheque.”

“I want the podcasts to be easy to listen to but also maintain an academic mindset.” Nelson said.

With the creation of the podcast, Yale students and the public will have the opportunity to listen to the happenings of the Yale art community. Although they are not the only means by which the YUAG is making strides in technology, they take a unique approach in informing the patrons of the museum.

“The gallery guides have a blog that they update daily, and the gallery has different audio outlets for viewing the art, but the podcasts are the newest thing as far as technology goes,” Nelson said. “It is certainly a step up from hearing an old-fashioned talk or lecture, and we plan on doing some advertisement this year to ensure the Yale community is aware of this asset.”

Nelson is currently working alone to record and edit these narratives, but she said she hopes that increased awareness will make students want to become involved in the podcast project — whether by contributing ideas or producing their own pieces, especially since she plans to study abroad next semester.

To listen and subscribe to a free dose of art, access Art Talk podcasts through iTunes or the YUAG’s Web site.

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