Monday, May 19, 2008

Conversations in Art 2,TWO, II

KNM-Sara's sculpture

[I went on a trip last week... here's part of the lowdown, from then and beyond]

Call it serendipity.

I'm driving to Washington D.C. There's popcorn on the floor of the rental van. Crumbs on my black pants. Cups with our names on them. And Chasing Vermeer playing through the back speakers; I can't hear it very well.

We pull in to a rest stop and the hum of traffic dissipates. Now I can hear Chasing Vermeer. The characters are having a philosophical discussion about Art. What makes some things worthy of being in a museum? What makes other things trash we'll throw away? I am reminded of Long Island Express Girl's challenging comments on the last post.

Anyway. One character says that art is a puzzle. It makes him think in new ways. Though I don't know it yet, I will agree with him over the next few days as I view many pieces at the National Gallery of Art, including The Way Things Go (an art-in-motion piece I'll write about in an upcoming talk) . I will also agree with the character when I get home and my eldest daughter secretly begins reading a book I used for last month's book club.

The book? Missing Mountains, about the issue of Mountain Top Removal. Eldest is moved by it. Essays, photos, poetry, short stories, songs. Art that makes her think in new ways. One thing leads to another, and I tell my girls about a beautiful woman who lives in Appalachia, who is using her musical art to try to help people think differently. Maybe even help them to have compassion. To love. To long for what they didn't know.

We sit for a long time. Littlest on my lap. Eldest leaning into my shoulder. We listen to this haunting music. I am overcome. Tears rise. I can feel my heart beating, swelling even. Littlest Child decides she loves Appalachian folk music. And the Appalachian dulcimer. She wants to find someone who can teach her to play. A twelve string one, she decides. Because she is convinced that the beauty she hears from Blue Mountain Mama is from a 12-string dulcimer.

What makes art Art? A little child shall tell me. Has told.

Water on Paper Sculpture, by Sara. Used with permission.


Gabriel Scheller's Art and Inspiration at Christine Scheller's blog

Gabe Scheller's profound thoughts on the sacredness of art.


Ted's poetic discussion of Chapter 3: Tossed Treasure.

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Blogger bluemountainmama said...

wow, l.l...... you just moved me to tears. i really have never thought of my music in that way, that it could move someone that much. that's really the best thing anyone could say. appalachian music stirs inner emotions in me, b/c it is so rooted in the culture here and how i grew up. i'm glad that is being reflected through the songs, and others get to experience it. thank you so much.

too bad we don't live closer. i'd love to help your daughter learn how to play dulcimer! :)

9:19 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

THAT was my favorite excerpt of Chasing Vermeer! What a great teaching discussion... not what one would readily find in an average classroom though, I fear.

Your daughters, at such a young age, have an excellent handle on what art accomplishes in the world. It moves, it stirs, it appeals, it advocates, it percolates, it blesses, it confronts, it inspires, it explains.
Our culture needs your thinkers and feelers.

(Oh, I never got back to leave a comment on your previous post, but I think my mid-kid wants to have an Andy Goldsworthy-esque birthday event next month. She's already rearranged all of the rock walls in my garden and wrapped stones in moss as a warm-up.)

11:32 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Interesting. Just thinking, thinking--not sure what to say.

My dad's partner is learning the dulcimer. Maybe she'll be able to create some hauntingly beautiful music soon.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that your time in DC was an art experience for you and your daughters. I was struck at the various ways you interacted with art on this trip and after -- even the crumbs on your pants and the hum of the traffic seemed to create sights and sounds of art. Looking forward to hearing more about these conversations.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Wonderful music and gift, Blue Mountain Mama! I've heard it before and it nearly moves me to tears as well (and most definitely will as I listen to it long enough!).

8:02 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Very nice to hear of your time in D.C. And the art side of it. Yes, that must be a wonderful place to visit. I don't think we did when I was there in 1965. I would think I would have remembered that.

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! I feel the sound of the music. I see you and littlest and eldest and even bluemountainmama gripped and moved by the potency of notes that seem alive. Yes, this--the feeling and the seeing, the gripping--this is the hanidwork of an artist!

6:12 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Blue... oh yes. And we've been listening to it again and again. So, those thousands of listens you see racking up... a whole bunch are probably us! :) I wish you could teach her too. That'd be a beautiful thing.

Erin... isn't it great? I didn't pick it because of the topic, but on the way to D.C. I was thinking, "Oh, what a perfect selection!" The painting in the book that gets stolen is even one that's at the National Gallery. We saw it. Love your explication of what art is/does!

Jennifer... so, tell me, does it sound bad in the meantime, you know, before the beautiful music stage? (Just trying to brace myself. :)

Charity... it was SUCH an art experience. More than ever before. Makes me realize the kids are growing. They really interacted with the art, made the experience their own.

Ted... isn't she just so gifted? We can't stop listening.

A. An... hey there, so glad to have you here in the music room with us...swaying by our sides, eyes closed, ears open, heart waiting.

6:30 PM  
Blogger kirsten said...

i must add chasing vermeer to my list.

it's one of those discussions that i find endlessly fascinating: what is art? what makes it good? who decides? what makes it last?

thinking in new ways. seeing in new ways. challenging my ideas of how i live, how i see, how i move, how i love.

i think i agree with that too.

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how you incorporate art so deeply into the lives of your children, teaching the how broad and how beautiful it can be. What a great outlet they will have as they process the deeper things of life.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Oh wonderful to see the two of you together in one place - now if we could just get you physically in one place! Oh LL, you would so love those mountains!

12:07 PM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

hey.... i told l.l. that i have an extra bedroom! :)

9:12 PM  
Blogger Christine A. Scheller said...


How lovely of you to link to Gabriel's work. We must be satisfied with such a brief expression of his gifts. Thank you.

11:29 AM  

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