Monday, January 25, 2010

It's All About Perspective

Yesterday, my daughter, Ali, and I had the good fortune to be able, along with Ann Oro, to play New York City tourist with Jenny Luca, who was in the United States for the first time. We went to the top of the Empire State Building, despite the cold, wind, and poor visibility.  We ate great Thai food (Ann's first time).  And we went to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa).  Our intention was to see the Tim Burton exhibit but, alas, we arrived too late to get tickets.  We stayed anyway.  And had loads of fun admiring and laughing at modern art.

I guess I should make it clear that I am not a lover of abstract art.  My daughter loves it and always has but, to me, much of it is not art.  I can appreciate the talent involved in creating much of it.  Take Hide and Seek, for example.

This piece, done by Pavel Tchelitchew, shows talent.  While I do not really like it, in fact find it rather gruesome, I can appreciate the work that went into it.  We stared at this painting for quite awhile.  

But other pieces just made no sense to me.  Like the metal exit sign nailed to a piece of wood.  I could have done that.  Or the rectangular bricks placed in a rectangle.  I truly believed, until reading the accompanying placard, that that one was simply a platform for a sculpture that wasn't there.  Even the black painting was confusing.

Ann,  Jenny, Ali, and I spent quite a bit of time with this one.  The placard for this one gave us clues that it wasn't just painted black.  There was a grid dividing the painting into black with reddish hues, black with greenish hues...well you get the idea.  As you can see from the picture, it really just looks black.

So this morning, Ali and talked about the museum.  I asked what her favorite part was.  She said she loved the chromed sculpture.  Someone had chromed a cabbage, a pencil, earthworms, and a lollipop.  I said I thought that was just strange.  And then I said I could have done that.  Ali's response, "But you didn't!"  And then she continued, "If you're not talented, you need to be creative. Those people are creative.  They see things differently and create pieces no one else thinks about."  It reminded me of the TedTalk I had just watched on the way home from the city.  This man creates art with an xray machine.  I think I could do that.  But, as Ali says, I didn't.  So he is creative and I am not.

But I kept thinking of what Ali was trying to teach me.  It really is all about perspective.  She and I looked at the same art work.  I laughed and she gasped.  She looked at pieces I thought were ridiculous and was in awe. 

Of course, at this point, the teacher in me came out. Isn't everything we do all about perspective?  How many times have I had a student who came with a reputation for being a terror and I loved him?  How many times have I had a child in my class who annoyed the heck out of last year's teacher and I couldn't wait to see her every day?  And then I wonder, what if we could force a change in perspective just to make things work out for the best.  Imagine that child who I really don't like.  What if I could look at that child the way I looked at Hide and Seek.  I might not like it much but I can sure admire the talent and creativity inside.  How much better would my year be?  And how much better for that child?  Something to think about.  Thanks for the lesson, Ali.


jennylu said...

Loved sharing time with you, Ali and Ann. Thanks so much for giving up your time on your weekend Lisa. It was a real highlight.

Jenny said...

"It's all about perspective" is a line I need to keep in mind. You make such a good point about our perspectives on students. In fact, it's an issue I've been struggling with in regard to a couple of my darlings this year. Thanks for reminding me and pushing my thinking.

Cinda said...

Great read! Thank you for sharing! I might have to borrow these thoughts in my classes. I will give you credit! An aside. My mom and daughter are both artists. My daughter paints pre-raphaelite and landscapes and my mom paints completely crazy abstract. They did a show together and everyone thought that it was the other way around. Fun!