In the art world, it's all about perspectives. Tricking the eye and brain into seeing things that are not there. Seeing a three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional canvas. Watching eyes as they follow you around the room.
But perspective isn't only an intellectual pursuit. It's more than converging parallel lines, mathematical formulas and spatial relations. Perspective, according to Merriam-Webster Online is also defined as the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed. That's a fancy way of saying “point of view.”
I’m an art geek. I love to look at art, wander around it, and see how it changes from step to step and from side to side. I love to think about it. I love to wonder about the “how” and the “why” of its creation. It's important for me to dance with both sides of my brain, so I try to understand things from both a technical and emptional point of view. For this reason, I often do art galleries alone. I’m not a five-minute in-and-out kind of gal, and when it comes to museums, I know I rank high on the annoying meter.
Sometimes, though, art becomes invisible. It becomes ordinary and the same. Seen-it, done-it, moving on. Maybe it's a little stale. Maybe it just doesn't carry the impact it once did. Maybe the message is lost among the bombardment of all the other messages. Or maybe it was never understood to begin with.
There is a picture I look at every week. It’s a church window. The design was based on a dream, and its intent was to depict Jesus in a pose of comfort. His arms are outstretched, and he stands among flowers in a pose that seems to say, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.” It’s a nice enough window, but having looked at it for over thirty years, it lost its impact. Seen-it, done-it, moving on.
But even the message is lost to me, art is a living, breathing medium. And one day, something happened.
I don’t know why, and I don't even remember when. There weren’t any earth-shattering revelations. I wasn’t having any particular personal crisis or epiphany. A heavenly chorus didn’t sing and a single brilliant shaft of light didn’t shine from above. In fact, it was as much a “duh” moment as an awe-inspiring one. My perspective changed. Actually, it grew. I still saw the image of comfort, but now I heard a message of action. The outstretched arms that were meant to enfold, embrace and care for me said, “Turn around and look. See all these people? There is an entire world in need of comfort, love, help and support. This is what you should be doing. Get up and go."
Hrmph. The window had never said that before. In the past it had always whispered to me in dulcet tones, and now it was marching across my brain, bass-drum pounding, leaving my fractured rest in its wake. After awhile, though, this idea breathed life back into an image that had for me, become ordinary. It refreshed a perspective that had gone stale. I suppose a “get off your butt and go do something” message would have that kind of impact.
Today is Martin Luther King Day. For some people it is just another day at work. For others, it’s a vacation day. For some, it’s a day of remembrance and for some; it’s a day of community service. Take a minute today to pull your perspective out of the drawer. Dust it off. Look at it. Wander around it. Get up close, and then stand back and look. Think about the how and the why. Listen for messages that might have been lost. Let your perspective grow.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream of love, equality, freedom and peace.
It's not only a beautiful message. It's a beautiful picture.
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