Over the past centuries, art has changed in countless ways—from subject matter to form to medium. At first glance, art can merely look like a simple person, object, pattern, or landscape, but with further inspection, an extensive amount of history and meaning can be discovered. In the Palmer Art Museum, several types of art were displayed from several different time periods—demonstrating many interesting paradigm shifts. A piece that caught my eye was “Dakota Grain Elevators” by Emil Bethke.
This painting depicts a paradigm shift from old-fashioned farming to modern farming. In past ages, grain was difficult to handle and farming was a laborious task. As the Industrial Revolution pulled society out of old-fashioned and inefficient ways, new technology and machinery was developed. As depicted in the painting, there is a modernized grain elevator, a railroad track, and utility poles to support power lines. This is quite a contrast to the antiquated farming in past centuries that required much physical labor and time. Instead, farming was becoming more efficient, productive, and dependent on machinery rather than humans. This paradigm shift was quite monumental in propelling us into the intensely technological world we live in today.
Reflecting this technological world is Ed Paschke’s painting “Bibutsu.”
This painting is of two men with stripes across their faces, reflective of television, video, and electronic media. This depicts a paradigm shift in media from paper and print to electronic and technological forms. Before such technology, media was often in paper form and either uncolored or colored in a conventional form that lacked the use of striking color. However, in this painting, the brightly colored stripes and luminous glow parallel the effect of a television’s stripes. The acid-tone splashed across the faces of the two men parallel the anonymity in our oversized virtual world. And these aspects all unite to help demonstrate a clear paradigm shift—a shift that has lead us into the world we live in today.
Art is a unique and expressive way to demonstrate shifts in ideals and standards historically and culturally. It reflects meaning in a way that is different from words and text. Although art is quite interpretive, the paradigm shift is very present in these two pieces, because if an idea has reached art, it is likely to reach everywhere.