February 26, 2014

"...the shadow of its joy"

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” 
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Yesterday's blog was about my special love affair with Kansas University's art museum.  I loved the small stone building that every day lifted up another masterpiece for me to admire and make a part of my soul. But sometimes you have to leave your carefully contained world and escape to the city...Kansas City to be exact, for a little fun.  My junior year of college I inherited my grandfather's beige station wagon, which I promptly named the Dawn Treader, and DT and I had many adventures together, from seeing how many girls we could pile in the car for 3 am frenzied cream puff bakery runs after a night of studying to occasionally venturing into the city of world famous jazz and barbecue for the special cultural events we couldn't experience in a smaller Kansas town. 

My favorite spot in Kansas City?  The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which houses a world class art collection.  

It was at this museum that I came to cherish the work of Monet, who quickly became my favorite artist.  I first saw one of his Water Lilies paintings at this museum, and to say it took my breath away sounds so cliche', but it's the truth.  Quite simply, it transported me into another world.

Monet liked to paint when the sun reflected off the water and I love the swirls of light between the lilies and the water.  After seeing my first Monet (in real life) I became fascinated with the Impressionists and it's a passion that has never subsided.  The term "impressionism" derived from one of Monet's early paintings, "Impression, Sunrise".  Spontaneity, sunlight and color were the hallmarks of the impressionist artists, and the beauty of their work captured my heart.  Poet Robert Hayden reflected on Monet's work in his lovely poem Water Lilies, penned in 1966 during one of our country's most turbulent times. 

Monet's Waterlilies

Today as the news from Selma and Saigon
poisons the air like fallout,
I come again to see
the serene, great picture that I love.

Here space and time exist in light
the eye like the eye of faith believes.
The seen, the known
dissolve in iridescence, become
illusive flesh of light
that was not, was, forever is.

O light beheld as through refracting tears.
Here is the aura of that world
each of us has lost.
Here is the shadow of its joy.

May we all find not the shadow but real joy today.  Have a wonderful day!

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