Today’s morning visit to blog land left me thinking about the impact of art on our lives. Thank you, Steve, at Shadows and Light .
His visit to a Georgia O’Keefe exhibition and his reminiscences of following her work reminded me of putting up calendar prints of her art in my classroom.
I taught English, but I made a practice of posting art prints and posters around my classroom over the years. Once in a while I’d use them as a jumping off point for writing. For instance, I had a modern art poster that consisted of only circles and lines in primary colors. One of my favorite assignments was when we read The Great Gatsby and I’d task the kids with describing how that poster represented the book and the characters in it. If they'd actually done the reading, they'd write about the divisions between the characters, the boundaries of class and money, or even simply the iconic light on the dock across the bay from Gatsby.
I also hung art around the room for me. If I was having a bad day, I could look over those inattentive heads, take a cleansing breath, and lose myself for ten seconds in water lilies at Giverny or out on that sailboat in Homer’s Breezing Up.
The other motivation was more altruistic. I still can see the print of Van Gogh’s bedroom that always hung in my room when I was a little girl. Now when I come across it as an adult, I always travel back to that yellow bedroom in Virginia where I woke up to the picture of that bed and that chair so long ago.
My hope was that as the kids stared blankly back at me, their minds wandering, the pictures I’d hung above the blackboard would be imprinted in their drifting thoughts. After 180 days of facing that image it would become theirs, too.