Weekend reads: Best New York Times stories of 2017, find your classic art twin, why some art is so bad it's good

Kristin Tyndall's reads

If you need a lot of reading material this weekend, you can read all 20 stories the New York Times chose as their favorite articles of 2017. The pieces span a wide range of topics—from Kazakhstan's efforts to become a financial and tech hub to the Boy Scouts' announcement that it will now accept girls.

"What makes some art so bad it's good?" asks John Dyck, a doctoral student in philosophy, in a recent article for The Conversation. He concludes that it's not mere schadenfreude that draws people in. Rather, bad-art fans love bad art because it is a "gorgeous freak accident of nature," and perhaps because it reminds us that it's okay to fail. To this, I would add that bad art can be a poignant homage to both the joy of creating art and the value of taking risks. "People may say I can't sing," the famously terrible opera singer Florence Foster Jenkins reportedly said, "but no one can ever say I didn't sing." 

Kathleen Escarcha's reads

Some museum visitors actively search for their art doppelgangers. Others, like me, take a few selfies and let Google's Arts and Culture app do the searching for me. The app’s newest feature uses facial recognition software to find your art twin among thousands of portraits. More than 20 million selfies have already been uploaded to the app, according to Google estimates. The app’s success comes as no surprise to one digital communication manager at Brooklyn Museum. “People love to see themselves in art,” she says. If you’d like to see my art doppelganger, check out Georgette Chen’s Self Portrait.

Dead sea creatures and insects get a second life in Christopher Marley’s artwork. Marley has pioneered a way to freeze-dry animals (all of which have died from natural causes) in a way that makes them seem alive. One biology professor uses Marley’s combination of design and preservation to inspire his students. Mark Parker, the chief executive at Nike, also turns to Marley’s work for inspiration. Parker credits Marley’s work as inspiration for the sneakers U.S. athletes wore during the 2016 Summer Olympics.

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