A few weeks ago, I visited the Martin Luther: Art and the Reformation exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Before I left to catch the train, I popped my Swedish great-aunt’s small ceramic squirrel into my bag, knowing that she’d want to come in some way. (She’s likely forcing a plate of pepparkakor and herring on the Almighty right now.)
The museum was only open for exhibit visitors, so the side rooms containing casts of Greek sculpture, Ottoman-era Persian miniatures, and an 1800’s Rwandan sword (one of my favorite pieces) were dark and roped off, though visitors could peer inside.
What is it about turning off the lights that reveals the life flowing through something inanimate? Museums are opportunities for falling deeply into unrequited love; the dark, forbidden rooms could entirely take you over.
But the crowds were largely Lutheran, I guessed; not a crowd given to losing their heads over the Doryphoros’ mighty muscles and fetchingly chipped backside. And truthfully, I was there partly to be around all the elderly people, to watch and learn how they cherish the bits of idea and heritage that lend us all strength.
There is something about elders and art, a stillness so at odds with experiencing the world through a screen, that is monumentally welcome to me. The other day, I passed an old man carrying a huge M&M cookie (also considered great art in my book), and all else but love fell away; that’s the reality I crave.
Someone close to me suffered from opioid addiction for years and often was very cruel. I used to feel hurt or even despised but then learned that opioids detach their users from reality, and I realized that, in a way, this person didn’t think of me as real. What could be more horrific than realizing someone you love knows that you exist but doesn’t think you’re real?
And now, with the opioids gone, I can feel the difference in being loved because I am seen. [Read more…]