Sunday, October 31, 2004

Worcester (MA) Art Museum Visit

The family visited the Worcester Art Museum on Saturday. For me, the two highlights (among the many there) were the Keeping Shadows exhibit and the Wall at WAM. Coincidently, Keeping Shadows was reviewed very well by Mark Feeney in today’s Boston Globe Sunday edition.

Keeping Shadows is an exhibit showcasing the history of photography. There is no question that these photos are art. The photographers (artists) were able to capture something wonderful in that instance, forever freezing the moment/the image. All of us would be challenged to capture that same image in words, never mind how many it would take to do so. I came away looking about with re-opened eyes. Driving away from the museum, only a block away, a homeless gentleman holding his worn sign expressing his need was by the side of the road. His image will be forever in my mind. He was a brother of some of the images we left on the walls behind us, except he is here, on the sidewalk, now.

The scond highlight was Jim Hodges: Don’t Be Afraid. This is the current exhibit in The Wall at WAM contemporary series. The mural is located on the second floor wall in the Renaissance Court overlooking the Court’s 6th century Roman mosaics saved from Antioch. This seemingly eclectic combination works in multiple ways.

We approached it from the second floor entrance to the Court balcony. It spans some 60+ feet of wall space. At once, awesome in its graffiti-like appearance, one begins to feel the strength from the multitude of languages all expressing the same thing; “Don’t be afraid”.

Jim created this mural with the help of 69 members of the United Nations. Each representative hand wrote “Don’t be afraid” in their native language and script on a sheet of paper he provided with the background invitation on how it was going to be used. He then combined these texts on one huge light blue background and mounted it to the wall.

There was a commonality to the languages as diverse as they were. Since they were all expressing the same phrase, the common items just jumped out at you. “Nao” “Nu” “Ne” resembled “No” which was itself repeated in multiple languages. One did not feel so different standing there. Fear is universal. The will to be strong is also universal!

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