Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Intentional authenticity

K.Kollwitz, self portrait

I had to really coach myself before going in to the museum. Four hours. I gave myself FOUR HOURS. And I determined to not impose any order on my visit. None at all. No listening to the organizing part of my brain that would take me through every exhibit, down every hall, past every painting.

That kind of museum visit may be thorough, but it leaves me dull-eyed.

No. This time would be different! This time I would follow only what interested me. I would get lost. I would be completely inefficient and loop over my steps many times if that is what it took.

If that is what it took to just follow things to the parts I NEEDED to see. The parts that reached out and grabbed me by my guts.

And that is how I ended up standing in front of the Kollwitz self-portrait.

The honesty and blatant emotion grabbed me, by my guts if you will allow, and made me stop. And look. And consider all of things I considered. About life having raveled edges. About how I do not need to be orderly or even neaten things up. About just being. Being my genuine ragged-edged self.

I'm sure that there are times when I do not notice the subtle pressures to conform to something that may be comfortable but not genuine. It is difficult to put this into words.

I think I am on to something. I can hardly wait to go back to the museum and try it again with this mindset.

This clip from the movie "Dead Poets Society" illustrates this very idea.


Ralph said...

Wow this entry in your blog blows me away I am lost for words but I know exactly how you feel and what you are saying.

Kaylyn said...

Kathe Kollwitz was one of the major influences on my early life in art. I found a book on her in the public library when I was in high school and was totally overwhelmed by her drawings and by the powerful emotion she put into single line. I think that her work along with the support of an astounding art teacher was the prime factor in my going to art school. Once in art school, I found that few knew who she was and she was ridiculed as a sentimentalist. I'm glad to see a resurgence in the appreciation of her amazing work.

Since I left the 'professional world' last summer, I have been pretty much on my own in my studio. A lot of time for introspection and those visions and revisions of the ragged self. Its been a good time.

Suzanne said...

I'm often amazed at what you are able to find in the huge YouTube world to precisely express a certain emotion or feeling.

How do I say your quote from breakfast, others may be looking at the same art but perception may be "as if tuned in to another radio station" ?

SamArtDog said...

Thanks for this Dead Poets' clip. Great to see Robin Williams, one of my very favorite ragged-edged ragamuffins. He's lived his life on the ragged edge, right in front of the whole world. Thankfully, he lived to learn from it. So many haven't survived having a genius like his. He's still wickedly funny and out of step, but he's become much more graceful, a better dancer, if you will. I've always been glad he's here.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Ralph, thank you for your comments. It's good to know that you understand.

Kaylyn -- Kollwitz is an unusual choice for a high school student, but we already knew you were not run of the mill in any way. Thank you for sharing your experience! I envy you your art school exposure.

Suzanne -- thanks for your comment. I'm going to think more about the comments I made yesterday at breakfast. It just kind of popped out of me and now I need to spend some time thinking.

SamArtDog -- ditto about Robin Williams. This is one of my all-time favorite movies, too. My undergraduate degree is literature and I was lucky enough to have a couple of teachers who tricked me into thinking as he did in the film. Thanks for taking time to comment! More snow on the ground for you today? When is Spring coming, anyway?

Celeste Bergin said...

only Kvan can somehow combine Kathe Kollwitz and Robin Williams and leave people nodding in agreement.
I am always stupefied by Kathe Kollwitz and
this was Robin Williams absolute best film. Thanks for the inspiration.