Monday, November 16, 2015

The Masterpiece

One program that takes place at my kids' school is called Art Masterpiece. They have parent volunteers that bring in a print of different masterpieces once every two weeks. They allow the students to experience the art with some guidance and then leave the print for 2 weeks for the kids to look at in their own time, or allow the teacher to further the lesson. When I taught school I thought it was a great program and I was so excited to be able to volunteer as a parent.

But to be a parent volunteer you have to do the district training, which is actually pretty awesome. So for the past 3 weeks I have been going to the training and have learned so much.

Yesterday was the biggest light bulb moment for me. This woman was showing a piece with 2 children. She told us a bit about the artist and then pointed out some interesting things about the piece. She gave us the chance to point out things we noticed in the painting. After a few minutes of looking at it, noticing the lines and the colors she dropped the bomb. "I hate this painting. It drives me crazy."

I was kind of dumbfounded when she said that because I didn't really have strong feelings about it one way or the other, and I had had some strong feelings about other pieces. Some I loved, and some I thought were just paint that was screaming.

Then she pointed to some of the things she didn't like, which I hadn't really noticed until she pointed them out. I still didn't have any strong feelings about it, but I know I will never forget that picture.

The thing about art is, it's so personal. I may love a painting that someone else loathes and vice versa. What I see and appreciate may be based on how I am feeling the moment I see it, if I am in a hurry and don't take the time to really look, or if I really examine it. If I am up close or far away.

What I found for myself is that these are all masterpieces for whatever reason. Maybe it is the use of color, or line, or shape. Maybe it has to do with how that artist was the first to use a particular method, which paved the way for other artists.

One artist was self taught and the way he painted hands made them look disfigured. Another artist, in trying to make a point, made his subjects distorted. Some pictures were deceiving. For example the pointillism of Suerat. When you back up you can see the picture as your eye naturally blends the points of color together, and for me it feels peaceful. But when you are up close, it is a very different experience. You can clearly see individual splotches of color and the feeling, for me, is confusing.

People are like this. Each is a masterpiece and each is different and unique. Some you may love immediately, while others you dismiss quickly because they just don't interest you, or they are the opposite of what you are comfortable with.  There are brash colors and brash people. There are muted colors and muted people. Some you may just enjoy looking at, while others you want to take the time to get to know. You may see the value in greater depth when you know the background, the history, or the ideology of that person. Some you may not appreciate until you take a step back and look at them as a whole picture. And some you may dismiss because spending time with them just isn't enjoyable.

Whatever the reason, they are all masterpieces and someone may find joy and satisfaction in the very piece that someone else finds distasteful.

Ultimately, you may realize that each is a masterpiece by the same Artist. And each is different, unique, and valuable.

What if we could think of everyone around us as a masterpiece? 

What if we could step back from what we think is a mess and ask what the Artist was trying to do or say?
Is this person about giving service, or giving others a chance to serve, is that one about extreme intelligence and that one of little intelligence but great heart?

I learned looking at the art, that although much of it wasn't "my style" so to speak, that by taking time to really look at it and consider it I could at least appreciate what the artist was trying to do.

Something I need to do more with the people I come in contact with.

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