Arts preview: Creative Critique: How one man’s satire is another man’s door to the art world

By Sarah Thompson
From the August 1, 2013 edition

Watch theYouTube video “How to Make an Art” and you’ll see artist Jayson Musson’s Cosby-sweater-clad, Pharoah-bling-wearing alter ego Hennessy Youngman spouting off comments on artworks created from “everyday, banal f---ing objects.”

No, it’s not your average scholarly art critique. In fact, with Musson’s advice doled out using casual hip-hop jargon with the occasional grad school buzzword, it feels anything but.

And that’s exactly what the New York-based MFA-holding artist was going for in the viral video, part of his 26-video series “Art Thoughtz.”

“It’s a reaction against the jargon used in these theory-intensive art programs,” said David Crane, curatorial assistant at Wexner Center for the Arts. “It’s also a way of mocking or satirizing something that takes itself very seriously.”

The art world isn’t the only focus of scrutiny; Crane said much of the satire is also aimed at common hip-hop tropes, ones with which Musson—who’s part of a Philly-based rap groupis all too familiar.

It’s these different approaches, as well as a healthy dose of humor,that Crane said makes the video successful.

“People can come to it from a lot of different angles,” he said. “Art people will respond to it in a certain way, but one of its goals is to open up to the people who aren’t in-the-know, to bring in an outsider viewpoint. Though (Musson) went to grad school, the character, Hennessy, is embodying this outsider.”

This viewpoint has been so well received and relatable that Musson was invited to lecture in character at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago—twice.

Such successes validate Crane’s reasoning behind showing “How to Make an Art” in a brick-and-mortar setting even though it’s available online.

“I think it’s a way of reaching people that would dismiss it as not important or serious,” he said. “I think by putting it in this context, it’ll allow different people to see it and view it in a different light.”

In doing so, Crane said the video is doing something greater than simply being part of a small project, hence its placement at the Wex.

“It was important to bring other voices into the center and into the art world as a whole,” he said.“To make it more incusive and open