The Artist's Muse Art Blog
Last year I met a woman who modeled for a figure study class after having a mastectomy. She explained to me that agreeing to model became a step in her long healing process; she wanted to look at the stark reality of breast cancer and refused to "hide behind pink ribbons." To her credit she had never smoked, her diet was always well informed, yet she still was diagnosed with breast cancer. Modeling gave her an opportunity to get used to the physical changes in her body as a result of her operation. A short time later the course instructor asked if he could paint her portrait. He completed a beautifully rendered painting of this woman that now hangs in the Springfield Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield, MA. Countless people have gathered in front of the image to engage in deep in conversation. The painting acts as a catalyst which allowing visitors to access emotions that might otherwise be buried silently. The intimate conversations that take place in the gallery in front of the painting of Laura, have become a regular occurrence. Her courageous approach, using art as a vehicle for her own healing, has touched the lives of many individuals.
There are other recent events I have witnessed which illustrate the importance of art in society. Last November, I was asked to give a tour of our museums to a visiting executive from Japan. He is very well connected in that art world, but was humble and gracious. As we walked through the galleries the smile on his face broadened and the sparkle in his eye brightened. A friend of the Pissaro family, he enjoyed seeing the paintings created by this family acquaintance. At the conclusion of our time together he thanked me and said that seeing such precious works of art had made "his heart happy, " and it was like "visiting old friends in a foreign land."
Additionally, while in Paris recently I was impressed by the long lines of people waiting to get a glimpse of the inside Sainte-Chapelle, to visit the Centre Pompidou and the Musée D'Orsay. With so many other ways to spend their time, people still flock to museums to see great works of art. My theory is that it offers them solitude and a sense of well-being that can't be found in a video game or a day at the mall. A museum, gallery or architectural wonder offer opportunities for personal growth and refection. They are venues where one is encouraged to be in the moment, to reflect and think about what is in front of them in a subjective way and to connect with other human beings through their art, regardless of how long ago it was produced. "Art has the ability to dissolve boundaries and reveal our interconnectedness with one another as well as reveal the dignity of our uniqueness," (Pat Allen, Art is a Way of Knowing).
Art touches the lives of many people. Whether they are engaged in a formal experience, casually enjoying art or expressing themselves by creating meaningful work. By becoming absorbed in an artistic encounter, we give our over taxed mind a much-needed rest, allowing it to process information on a non-verbal level. Often the answers to questions or concerns surface while we are engaged in this kind of activity. Incorporating art experiences into our lives can be extremely beneficial.
Laura By Steven Brown Oil on panel Springfield Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, MA