An oldie but a goodie from many years ago, that I haven’t shared on this blog before…
When my oldest daughter was only about four years old, my family visited a modern art museum in upstate New York. It wasn’t really our cup of tea. Certainly, there were pieces that we appreciated, and perhaps more for me than my wife, but there were also plenty that we just had a hard time understanding where the artist was coming from.
And maybe it’s also that we just didn’t want to go to the bother of understanding where the artist was coming from. Such as in the room that was packed full of white paintings: all different sizes, all painted in different cities at different times, but all completely white. I’m sure the artist was getting at something. Maybe something that on some level I could have appreciated. But in the end, it seemed like too much work to open up the little corner of my brain that might have thought such a thing was really cool.
Of course, part of the issue is that the museum wasn’t really very happy with us. Fair enough, when our two daughters, aged approximately 2 & 4, immediately started climbing on one of the artworks (which unfortunately resembled a series of brightly colored boxes stacked on top of each other), only moments after our arrival. We, the desperate parents, were quick to intervene, but not fast enough for the museum guards, who proceeded to follow us around from room to room, staring at us with icy gazes that said, “You are not our kind of people.”
This led to us telling our kids repeatedly not to touch the artwork, not to climb on the artwork, not to get too close to the artwork, lest something go wrong and we damage something permanently. All this as we hoped to shake off the unnerving scrutiny of the museum officials, and salvage this already difficult experience (one of our kids had earlier vomited in the car on the way to this place).
And then came the amusing moment turned this all into a story we’ll not soon forget. We entered a room and beheld an art series that were made of glass. One was a large glass pane, hanging in mid-air, suspended from the ceiling.
Next to it, on the ground, was its companion – consisting of a giant pile of broken glass shards, representing, I’m sure, something deep and moving.
Our oldest daughter took this sight in, and turned to her mother, with great concern.
“Uh oh, Mummy,” she said in all seriousness, “somebody touched that one.”