A snippet of the Letter from the Editor of our Mock-Up!:
“Spirit of the Living Watching,” the title of this publication, refers to the famous Paul Gaugin painting: “Spirit of the Dead Watching.” In his painting, Gaugin depicts his Tahitian wife lying on a bed, frozen in fear, as she imagines (or not) a spirit lurking behind her. Gaugin depicts the spirit to be as real as the fear in his wife’s eyes. The title of this magazine is not only meant to reference art history by referring back to this famous painting, but to our roles as art historians, and more generally, as experiencers of art. Art historians are meant to do a whole lot of watching and looking. They are meant to experience a work. It is my firm belief that in order to truly experience a work we must open ourselves up to it, and allow ourselves to become vulnerable. This, I believe, has something to do with the soul (or spirit). We must open ourselves to the possibility of a work changing us—molding our spirits. This is why art can be so powerful, and this is why I believe people are compelled to create it. People need an avenue through which we can communicate with our spirits. We want a visceral connection to the illusive self: a connection that is truer than the distant, cold logic that much of society champions as truth. This is the hope of artists everywhere, and this is the reason why art historians cannot help but watch, with our spirits exposed.