4.01.2009

Reader Favorite: "Material World"

Reader Peggy shared her favorite "art thing": Peter Menzel's book of photographs entitled "Material World A Global Family Portrait". Here's how the book is described on his website:
'Daylight approaches: a father in Japan breakfasts on coffee, Pepsi, and vitamin pills before running for the train. Twelve thousand miles away in Haiti, a man winces as he shaves with a much-used dry razor blade. Two girls in Iceland run barefoot in the snow around a hot spring; a boy in the United States happily fills in a firearm-safety coloring book; two boys at a village in Mali amuse themselves by marching around in Mickey Mouse sunglasses. Alone in a hot farmhouse, the wife of a rice grower in Thailand takes a short nap on a teak floor, a TV soap opera chattering at her unconscious back. Welcome to Material World, a remarkable portrait of humanity at the end of the millennium.'
Published in 1994, "Material World" gives glimpses into the real world of people around the planet, using one family and its possessions to represent an entire country. As you flip through, you see both the disparities and commonalities of life at the end of the 20th century. It's a moving, thoughtful and innovative (though copied since then) way to present issues of economics, geography, and culture.

Peter Menzel collaborated with Faith D'Aluisio on "Women in the Material World," described this way:
'A testament to the indomitable power of the human spirit, Women in the Material World portrays the striking similarities and profound differences in women's lives on the eve of the twenty-first century. Under the direction of Faith D'Aluisio and Peter Menzel, a team of renowned women journalists traveled the world to take a closer look at the lives of women in twenty disparate lands. All too often, the picture of the planet we carry around with us-a picture formed of our own experiences and the stream of information from the mass media-is at odds with what is real and important. The world is much more diverse, sorrowful, and splendid than the white-washed and overwhelmingly present stereotypes many of us have in our heads. And it is much more female-there's a whole half of the world that is waiting to be heard from. It's hard to know what a real portrait of what's out there would look like, hard to imagine what a symphony composed of all the world's voices would sound like. But this book may well be an indication.'
Thank you Peggy, for reminding all of us that art is all around us; we just have to look and appreciate.

Remember: there's still time to enter Artventuring's 2nd Blogoversary Giveaway! Just post a comment here, tell us your favorite "art thing," and you're entered. Good luck. The prize drawing will be held on Monday, April 13th.