Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Europe: Letter to Ray and Cali

Dear Ray and Cali,

Coming back from Europe I was asked lot of questions: “How was it?” “Where was your favorite place?” “What did you do?” They were hard to answer and I usually gave cop-out answers.

“Wonderful, Amazing, Insert your own adjective.”
“I couldn’t pick a favorite. Oh, alright Italy.”
“Studied art.”

Your question, however, was my favorite. And the only one that required almost two months of thought. I’m still not entirely sure I have a complete answer as to why I am a better person for going to Europe, but I think I’m close.

In Europe I discovered a lot of things about myself. That sounds so cliché. A better way of stating it would be that a side of me that was dormant, but very much there, came alive.

None of this slow and steady oozing of a self-discovery. I’m talking volcano. I had three and a half weeks, five countries, ten cities, forty-three girls, two boys, seven credits, and three professors to bring out that volcano. The lava that erupted in our metaphor will affect the rest of my life.

In Europe I learned I have a lot to offer.

That is a pretty simple sentence. That sentence, however, has taken me 20 years to formulate, say, and believe.

I didn’t know it until recently, though I have always been drawn to it, but art is one of my passions. In middle and high school I remember hating the classrooms that had Garfield posters and pastel-colored geographical maps and loving the rooms that had Norman Rockwell and cool historical photographs covering the walls. In Europe it was like I was always in the good classroom with no end of eye-mesmerizing artwork. And this time I didn’t have to stop looking at it to take notes on the Civil War.

Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it must find us working.” Europe was my work. Art was my notes.

In Europe I discovered art is something I am good at. Not making art, by any means. A few mediocre watercolors and sketches are all I have to show in that area. But I found I am okay with that, that isn’t where my talent lies. Instead my talent lies in finding the meaning of art. To me meaning lies in feeling. And art is something I feel.

Rick Riordan said, “You might as well ask an artist to explain his art, or ask a poet to explain his poem. It defeats the purpose. The meaning is only clear through the search.” In Europe I found that not only am I good at finding the meaning of art through feeling, but I can help others in their search. I asked questions that probed, prodded, and produced feelings, ideas, and movement for myself and, often more importantly, others.

I’ve always been fascinated with the talent of others and how they choose to share them. In Europe, were I was constantly exposed to both the tangible and indefinable talents of others, I realized it would be wrong for me to not express and develop my talents in leading others to their own volcanic discovery.

I may never move viewers to tears. No one may ever spend hours gazing at something my mind, hands, and heart produced. I may never be featured in a well-lit gallery, my signature painted for all to see.

But I can teach others to feel enough passion to offer tears on sight of a piece of art. I can put my mind, hands, and heart into teaching others to appreciate and mimic the great producers of art. Instead my gallery can be a classroom with florescent lighting.

And to me, that is a lot to offer.

Love, Ande


Renny said...

You can move viewers to tears. Just so you know. Beautiful post.

hennchix said...

Ande, I am so glad you were able to go to Europe, and have such awesome and awe inspiring experiences. Thank you for sharing those, and for this beautiful post. Not only are you able to help others understand and feel art, you are able to articulate your own feelings so well. And that is a wonderful gift. Thank you!

Neighbor Jane Payne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Neighbor Jane Payne said...

You gained real, true knowledge on that trip, Ande, and I'm so glad for it. I love your closing line, "Instead my gallery can be a classroom with florescent lighting.
And to me, that is a lot to offer." What insight, what wisdom . . . and now what opportunities await you.

I love the way I feel when I read what you write.

That was a good question Ray and Cali asked. I'm going to remember that one.

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Dear Ande,
I've been anticipating this post for MANY months. It most definitely delivered. As I read this, I practically read the whole thing aloud to mom, because I'd keep finding "perfect" phrase-ology. That was beautiful. That was beyond beautiful... that was gorgeous. You always were the gorgeous sister (wink). I love you. I can't wait for ray to get home from work today so we can read it together and discuss it. He is going to LOVE this.
I love you,

Rebecca said...

Can I be one of your students! I heard someone say this last week that the only thing you need to appreciate art is a chair.

Ande Payne said...

Wow, thank you guys. I was nervous putting this post up and thought about disabiling the comments for a while. Thank you for your comments, they really do mean a lot.

Lisa and Mike said...

Ok- I have to admit I TOO unashamedly stalk your blog! I'm glad we came out in the open about that! And like people have already said...you have a way with words to describe exactly how you're feeling, and I'm jealous of that! You're posts are so fun to read!

Julie said...

Ande, You will be a GREAT teacher. Our children will be very lucky to have you in the classroom to help inspire them the way you have been inspired!

Kathy said...

Ande, not only do you have a talent for understanding art and teaching people to SEE what the artist has painted, but you also have a great talent for articulating in writen form your deepest thoughts. It is not easy to open your soul in a venue that can be seen by the world, and you have done that with great poise. I feel that I know you better, thank you for this post. Many paintings open the "soul" of the artist and that is an amazing thing to see, when you realy do SEE it. I am glad you have that rare gift.