Aria Nancy Rubin Art Pop Culture Mass Consciousness Nancy Rubin sculpture in the middle of City Center. Taken on March 26, 2012 by flickr user ercwttmn

These days, you never know where you may find art.

Take the 2013 VMAs for example (MTV’s Video Music Awards aka Miley Cyrus’ twerking carnival and bad girl debut). There were multiple references to modern and classical works, re-enacted or re-created. Complex Magazine has a great wrap up of highlights.

While many people didn’t realize they were being “cultured” to, they certainly can recognize they were being blatantly marketed to. The cool thing about art in this context is it can often pique the interest of young minds who are just tuning in for their favorite artists or to simply witness this mass pop culture conversation moment.

A more direct example of this type of not-so-subtle art subversion is Jay Z’s latest single, “Picasso Baby.” Jay Z’s lyrics often cause conversation – which, it can be argued, is plain good for the art world, regardless of the manner the artists are referenced. In this song, he directly namedrops many notables ranging from, of course, Picasso to the more contemporary Jeff Koons (who is having quite the moment). Koons’ Tulips is currently on display at the Wynn in Las Vegas, and he is also one of the artists referenced at the VMAs. As a perfect example of art pop culture, he’s truly entering a few new spheres – rap, televised music performances with Lady Gaga, and casinos in the city of sin.

This is notable because art’s affinity in the casino industry has long been struggled with in different contexts and companies. Many have started and closed galleries, while some are now taking a more direct approach. Something Sin City has long been absent of.

City Center is taking a bold approach to contemporary art and installations. The latest installation of MGM has quite the collection of large scale works scattered across its properties. In an effort to invigorate the city’s art scene and cultural stature, MGM CEO Jim Murren decided to make an investment in art.

So where does this leave us? Mass consciousness has the ability to be shaped for enrichment beyond just profit. All of these examples somewhat cleverly and not so cleverly incorporate art for the sake of… Inspiration? Profit? Culture? Conversation?

Art has a curious way of finding itself in our lives. Do you think its significance is underplayed by these references? Or are you not interested in it at all? What else could benefit from mass culture subversion?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on what art you’ve noticed in unexpected places these days. Leave us a comment below.





We like to share things that often are mildly related to what we do but spark some serious inspiration and tingly feelings. Thus, our (color) outside the box series.

SLÖJD, a hard to pronounce Swedish word for “craft,” and now one of the three Swedish words we know, is also an incredible project hosted by No Right Brain Left Behind and GOOD.

Over the course of six evenings, these two organizations recruited a small diverse group of talented designers from across industries to build prototypes for algebra and biology students. They had to come up with 100 ideas as soon as their feet touched the ground of the workshop, before prototyping, vigorously iterating, and finally presenting and testing in live classrooms with students.

What do designers have to do with education? Well, depending on who you ask, nothing or everything. There is a tremendous transformation and technology revolution happening around us. Without getting too philosophical, we will never consume information in the same way again. Our capabilities as humans will be pressed as we make ways for lazy information access (Google glass anyone?) and, yet, critical and creative thinking will become far more important than ever. At a conference this past summer, I had the pleasure of listening to the Chief Data Scientist from the U.S. Government’s Accountability Office (U.S. GAO). His first joke, “Yes, there is such a thing” lol. But what resonated with me the most, was that to truly understand big data, he argued you also need to understand the world – the implications of how data can be used, how to think through realizing insights, how to creatively come up with new ways to understand what is going on. In essence, a strong argument for science needing art (something we believe here), and a need for humanities in the classroom.

So when you think about design having anything to do with education, when you think about what art can mean for the future thinkers and tinkerers of this world, you realize it can mean everything. There have been some phenomenal examples of this with children in Africa learning how to use an iPad without any instruction. Great design can teach you things simply on its own.

While SLÖJD is incredibly awesome and inspiring, it also raises good questions about innovation and opportunity in your business. What are you not looking at? Who can you bring in to add a different perspective? It is incredibly important to draw from industries and the world around you- to take a moment out of your rabbit hole to draw in some sun and fresh ideas to transform your business for what has yet to come.

If you could invite anyone in the world, who would you bring in to spark innovation at your office park? Note: we’re not looking for industry experts in your field. Let us know in the comment section below. Let’s see what we can spark.