The Meaning of Colors: BLUE

Written by institute on February 28th, 2014


Blue is the most common favorite color of people worldwide. It is often associated with the sky, oceans, water, ice, cold, peace, serenity, and at times sadness.

Naturally occurring blue foods are rare which may be why blue is also commonly thought to be an appetite suppressant.

“Feeling blue” “I’ve got the blues.”

“Blue is a power like that of nature in winter, when all germination and growth is hidden in darkness and silence. Blue is always shadowy, and tends in its greatest glory to darkness. It is an intangible nothing, and yet present as the transparent atmosphere. [...] Blue beckons our spirit with the vibrations of faith into the infinite distances of spirit.” — Johannes Itten, The Elements of Color, 1970




A Clarion Call

Written by Lise, Director on January 21st, 2014


For those of us who are part of artist-run organizations, the last decade has been a difficult one. Like everyone else, we have suffered from an economic downturn brought on by a decade of war-spending and greedy banking ventures. More dismaying, though, has been the conservative turn and overall diminishment of artistic energy in ‘the art world.’ A recent article by Holland Cotter in the New York Times (1/19/14) summarized my own feelings of helplessness brought on by what he called ‘the gallery industrial complex.’ He bemoans the fact that in this “caste-system,” attitude is often mistaken for ideas, art writing has become ‘describe-the-strokes’ advertising, and museums have forgotten their “role as public institutions that change our habits of thinking and seeing.” He wonders why even art schools seem content to accommodate the general art economy that leaves their students indentured to creditors and to the art market where they are unable to venture into realms of creative activity that defy classification of art at all – the usual territory of the art world.

Pretty depressing stuff. But Mr. Cotter also knows his art history. There will come a time when “the art industry decides to liquidate its overvalued assets and leave.” And what then?

Artists, the first and last stakeholders, will have themselves to fall back on. They’ll learn to organize and agitate for what they need, to let City Hall know, in no uncertain terms, that they’re there. They’ll learn to organize, not just on special occasions, but all the time. They’ll learn that art and politics are inseparable, and both can be anything and everything. They’ll learn to bring art back from the brink of inconsequence.  

As someone long on questions and short on answers, let me ask: Why not start now?


So, as another year begins, I’ve traded in my depression for my dusty combat boots. I know what I have to do.

To all the hundreds of artists I’ve had the great pleasure to meet and work with over the years, I hope you’ll join me in the fight…

…to bring art back from the brink of inconsequence.


The Meaning of Colors: GREEN

Written by institute on December 15th, 2013


The color green is universally associated with nature, but can also be tied to luck, energy, fertility, springtime, wealth, envy and in some cases even nausea.

Green is the most restful and soothing color for human eyes, and is thought to promote feelings of calmness.

“Green thumb” “The Green-eyed monster” “Green with envy.” “Green around the gills” “It’s not easy being green.”

“The eye finds a physical satisfaction in green. When the mixture of the two colors which yield green is so evenly balanced that neither color predominates, the eye and soul come to rest on the mixture as if it were something simple. We cannot and will not go beyond it. Thus green is often chosen for rooms where we spend all our time.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Theory of Color,’ 1808 in Goethe: The Collected Works, volume 12: Scientific Studies, edited and translated by Douglas Miller, 1995



Another Year, Another Period of Reflection

Written by institute on October 25th, 2013


As October comes to an end, and we begin to head toward another holiday season, it is once again time to prepare for World AIDS Day / Day With(out) Art and reflect on the passing year in AIDS history. Now, more than 30 years after the term was first used by the CDC (Center for Disease Control), the fight against AIDS still continues. Our outlooks, public attitudes and statistics may have ebbed and flowed over the years, but the nature of the disease process remains unchanged. Despite increasingly lax attitudes, the threat is still real. Which is why, each year, we return our focus to spreading awareness in the hope that one day, this will no longer be true.

Only time will tell what the future holds, but here’s hoping the end of the pandemic is near.


Welcome to Martin Gantman

Written by institute on October 15th, 2013

The ICI is happy to welcome our Associate, Martin Gantman, as a new member of our Visualist-in-Residence project. You can follow the progression of his project, The Ephemera(l) Institution, until December 2013.