Art can make you healthier

Cancel your gym memberships! Throw away your exercise equipment! Cause apparently looking at art (or more specifically doing activities that inspire awe) can help boost your immune system.

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley who published the study “Positive Affect and Markers of Inflammation: Discrete Positive Emotions Predict Lower Levels of Inflammatory Cytokines” completed an experiment on 200 participants and tested their cytokines levels. Cytokine are proteins that cause inflammation when threatened telling the immune system to work harder, and can be associated with everything from depression to Alzheimer’s and type-2 diabetes when at extremely high levels. On the other end, researchers found that participants who reported having positive emotions- specifically awe- had the lowest levels of cytokines. The study states that the feeling of awe is important because it is associated with curiosity which typically results in behavioural responses that can be beneficial during inflammation.

“That awe, wonder and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions — a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art — has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy,” UC Berkeley psychologist and co-author Dacher Keltner said.

So here’s your workout of the day:

molly hatch

Molly Hatch, Double Fluted Lace: After Royal Copenhagen, ceramic installation, 2015

Contemporary Art, Culture, Travel

The United Kingdom & Ireland// The Saatchi Gallery

I got back from my trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland not too long ago now, and lemme tell ya, I can’t wait until I get to go back again. Every city we went to was so different from one another and offered so much. 1. Free wifi city wide, 2. The Underground is a million times better than the TTC, 3. Museums are free (with the exception of featured exhibitions)- All valid reasons why the UK trumps all.
london edinburgh edinburgh2 glasgow

We did all the touristy things in London like go to the Buckingham Palace, go up in the London Eye, cross the London Bridge…but we also saw some great exhibits at my favourite galleries in London: Tate Modern and the Saatchi Gallery. It was exciting to see pieces of art that I’ve only been able to study in class finally in person and experience them for how they were meant to be seen.

On a side note: Charles Saatchi is one of my biggest idols after I read his book “Be The Worst You Can Be: Life is Too Long for Patience and Virtue”. I have yet to find another person who could care less about what others thought and is honestly in my opinion, one of the most interesting people in the world.

The Post Pop: East Meets West exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery was by far my favourite with 250 works by 110 artists from China, the Former Soviet Union, Taiwan, the UK, and USA  in a collection of Pop Art. This exhibit exposes how Pop Art as modern art movement was so influencing and what it means to different people across the world. Each gallery or room consisted of different themes: Habitat; Advertising and Consumerism; Celebrity and Mass Media; Art History; Religion and Ideology; Sex and the Body.

Many of us associate the Pop Art movement with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein but it’s so much more than that. The movement uses and exploits everyday images and mass media to comment and  reflect on the world we live in. Many would say it is the most significant art movement of the 20th century. Furthermore this exhibition explores western and eastern Pop Art and its relationship within mass media and politics.

More importantly to note, Pop Art satirically exploits language and images to connect with the public with familiar imagery and opened the door for future artists to use popular images for social commentary in their own art. Different regions have different and sometimes opposing imagery. For example, in the Former Soviet Union popular images of state regime, control and power in propaganda were commonly used while in North America and the UK, Pop Art served as a platform to examine Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s theory of Commodity Fetishism, our obsession with celebrity culture in our mass produced, status driven world.

What made this exhibit and gallery even more special to me was that this gallery challenges all norms that are associated with visiting galleries. The art is freely displayed and people are encouraged to interact and experience the artworks. As you walk through the gallery you notice people taking pictures with the art; posting them online through the hashtag #SaatchiSnap. And although the works are closely monitored, you feel less constricted and comfortable as you are able to roam the galleries and take your time looking at contemporary art. It was definitely one of the most fun galleries I’ve ever been to, and even my friend who doesn’t normally like art said the exhibition was interesting, easy to understand and would go back without a doubt.

In addition, the main reason I travelled to the UK was to visit a school I’ve had my eye on for the past two years and visit their open house. And after much thought, I’ve decided to send in my application for Sotheby’s Institute of Art for a Master’s degree in Contemporary Art for fall 2015. I’m excited and scared for this new opportunity but I’m ready for the next big step. Wish me luck everyone!!