I graduated from the School of Visual Arts a long time ago with a degree in Fine Arts. It sounds impressive, but my brothers tell everyone I went to Crayon College. I loved the experience, and it has enriched my life. It set me on a path that took many turns for me to wind up where I am now; a computer teacher. It took a lot of turns.
One assignment I remember from school was to go the the Metropolitan Museum of Art and study a specific statue called Marble statue of a kouros (youth). You would walk right past it, as it is not very distinguishable from the thousands of other pieces of art in the same room. It is life-sized, but not very detailed. It's simple and straightforward. I had to write 10 pages on it. I just wrote two sentences about it and that's all you really need to know about it, so you can imagine how much elaboration had to go into 10 pages. That was the exercise; to really look and study it extensively. I sat in front of it for hours and then wrote about it for even more. I felt I really knew him. I handed in my paper and forgot about him.
I've been to the museum over the years, but I completely forgot about the statue until I bumped into him recently. (I didn't actually bump into him, you get into a lot of trouble for stuff like that.) I was shocked. He hasn't aged a day, and I've aged over 30 years since I last saw him. I stood there looking at him from the eyes of a grown woman, remembered the young lady who first studied him. Time really felt solid to me in that moment. I could sense the breadth of my life, and how insignificant my 30 years feels to a statue that's thousands of years old.
I thought about what was ahead of me back then; and all I've lived since. How I am just a blip on his timeline. Centuries will pass, and he will still be there. Nations will rise and crumble, and he will still be there.
Art is powerful; it speaks to us in many ways. Mostly though, it reminds us to look outside ourselves. To see the small part we play, and to play it well.
It was good to catch up with him.