100 Years  of History and Modern Art

“I don’t really like art, but I really enjoy history,” said Matthew Aspinwall, 11. “So I think it was really interesting how they put them both together.” This sharp Sutton Middle School student hit the nail on the head. What’s unique about the new exhibit at the High Museum of Art – “Fast Forward: Modern Moments 1913 >> 2013” – is that it pairs art and artists with influential historical events of their specific era and presents everything in chronological order. 
As a mom, educator and art enthusiast, I found the exhibit’s design to be novel and engaging. We were lucky to have three generations with us during our visit. Just like when I was small, my father excitedly kept leading me (and in this case, my kids, too) to specific artworks so he could share his knowledge and memories. Grandpa loves to educate and share stories with the younger generations of our family. 
Steer your family to the “movie room.” A short film features each piece of art in the “Fast Forward” show – works created from 1913 to the present day – along with its corresponding historical moment. For example, the first Freedom Ride (1961), the premier of the Peanuts comic strip (1950), and the first public viewing of colored TV (1951) helped my children understand the big picture.
Matthew’s brother, Ben, 9, told us he loved all the “wacky art,” but the contemporary Sarah Sze installation was his favorite. This expansive, mixed-media sculpture by Sze, known for her “gravity-defying” installations that combine familiar objects with the not so familiar, is a big draw at this show. The kids loved pointing out the odd and seemingly random items Sze chose, such as flip-flops, plates and water jugs glued to wood and metal. My 14-year-old son Ben thought examining her creation was like playing “Where’s Waldo?” or “I Spy.”
Seven-year-old Zhari Maxineau declared the show “awesome!” This Brookwood Elementary School student from Snellville and her dad, Audy Maxineau, opted for the audio tour, but both Zhari and my 10-year-old daughter Samantha had trouble understanding the narrator of the kids’ tour. They said they weren’t getting enough information about the artists and paintings. After listening to a sample, I had to agree. My advice: Skip the kids’ audio tour and let older children listen to the adult version instead. 
“Fast Forward” appeals to kids and adults of all generations. Take the whole family for an afternoon and you will have much to talk about for a long time afterward.
– Elisa Goldklang

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