This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Surprise“. With Advent having been on my mind (and blog), I thought of this picture. Or rather, to be more specific, the juxtaposition of these two pictures:
On one of my trips to the Philadelphia Art Museum to fight my inner Atheist, after spending some time with that beautiful Jesus statue above (a favorite of mine), I actually walked through the other side of the Medieval Art section to enter the Asian Art section.
I’m sorry, and forgive me if you can’t relate, but Asian Art has never done it for me. I don’t know why. I can see the craftsmanship aspect to it (I guess), but the beauty part feels lost on me. And so, when I go into Asian Art sections, my “art critic” side sort of quiets down and lets other parts of me take hold.
This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Thankful“. As soon I read the prompt, I thought of this picture.
It’s a client of mine. As a social worker, I have to deal in lots of tough stories (as I’ve written about before). This particular client is an interesting one, though. She doesn’t have too much “traditional” major trauma in her life, but that which she has, mostly, is of her own doing–or the doing of her illness, rather.
You see, she has what we call a “Personality Disorder“, meaning that she’s not really psychotic, doesn’t suffer the highs of mania, nor the lows of depression, nor is she suicidal. Rather, what she struggles with the most is a psychological disease that affects her very personality. She has a child-like demeanor that can be annoying, off-putting, attention-seeking, soul-sucking, and always full of emotional drama.
I’ve mentioned before on this blog (though admittedly in passing) that my favorite artist is Mark Rothko, the 20th century abstract expressionist. He’s often made fun of because his pieces are, usually, blocks of color on canvas. So many people (and I was one of them) look at his pieces and say “Where’s the skill in that? Anyone could do that! How is this art?”
The big turn for me happened several years ago when studying for the lecture/series I did on Beauty. As I spent nearly a year immersing myself in the philosophy, theory, and theology of aesthetics, I came to finally “get” abstract art. And with it, I realized how to connect with Rothko; and my art sensibilities have been the same since. For more, read my post on the beauty of art.
Still don’t get it? Here’s a quick exercise. Look at the two pieces below. The one on the right is the genuine Rothko. The one on the left is one of those reproductions where someone paints it inch for inch as close to the original as possible.
This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Renewal“. This here is a picture of one of my favorite rooms in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It’s in the medieval art section (a section which, as I’ve written before, carries much significance to my soul).
I still remember the first time I turned the corner and saw this crucifix on the wall. It’s crude, yet so beautiful. It faces another, dimly-lit room in which there is a medieval-era altar on which there was taken countless pieces of Eucharist.
The last time I was at the museum, though, I noticed a bit of symbolism I’d never noticed (and I have no idea why). This crucifix is positioned above a 13th-century knight’s tomb effigy. After spending some time in reflection near the aforementioned altar, I looked back through the arch and for the first time noticed that the gaze of the dying Christ seemed to be settling not on the museum passer-bys, but on the effigy of the dead knight before him.
The Christ’s gaze of sadness and pity no longer seemed to be for his own sufferings, but for the death and suffering of this one that lay before him. This gaze seemed to carry with it not only sadness, but also a stoic confidence that through this act, he would bring an end to this knight’s sleep.
Through this act of loss and sadness, here is a picture now of rebirth and renewal, made all the more meaningful as I took this picture from the steps of that altar, bathed in darkness, on which was consecrated and served Christ’s body, broken for our renewal and light–then, and today.
See my past Weekly Photo Challenges here.