Call and Response in the Arts: Cubism, Music, and Life

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is hosting the exhibit Picasso and Rivera: Conversations Across Time. On March 11, Wellesley alumna Jennifer Josten, Director of Graduate Studies and Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburg, moderated a talk regarding the exhibit, Cubism's Audience and Interpretation, Paris to Mexico City.

 Jennifer Josten, James Oles, Patricia Leichten (from left to right)

Jennifer Josten, James Oles, Patricia Leichten (from left to right)

The dialogue was between art historians James Oles, Wellesley professor and adjunct curator of Latin American art at the Davis Museum, and Patricia Leighten, Professor Emerita of Art History & Visual Studies at Duke University. They discussed the reactions to Cubism in Paris and Mexico City as well as the dialogue and interplay between Picasso and Rivera.

 Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera in a call and response

Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera in a call and response

In the question and answer section, a woman brought up the theme of call and response that is so prominent in music and dance, especially in African culture. (A call and response is a succession of two musical/dance phrases, where the second phrase is performed as a direct commentary on or response to the first.) She likened the relationship between Picasso and Rivera and their use of their art as the studio art's embodiment of call and response.

 Conversation between me and James Oles

Conversation between me and James Oles

This talk was an exciting immersion into other forms of expression. As a musician and dancer, I was fascinated by the intersect between the art forms. It reiterates that all aspects of our lives are in constant fluctuation in relation to our own self, our environment, and those around us. We must honor that, idiomatically, our scientific and objective brains are also strongly informed by our expressive and artistic selves in a call and response dialogue.