Nancy and I and Andrew and Allie went to ArtPrize on Saturday. It’s a huge public art show in Grand Rapids. It was part of our weekend of vacation (Nancy and I), and was part of work (Allie). There are more than 1,500 works of art all around the city. We saw a few. And I cried a couple of times.
Once was in front of Walking on Water – Azurite. The piece, by Makoto Fujimura, is part of his elegy to the victims of the March 2011 tsunami in Japan. We walked in to the space and I stood, looking. I got closer. I stepped back. I stopped.
It could be the glimpse of Andrew looking at the piece. It could be reflection on the destruction and death. But my eyes started to mist.
We walked out of the building. Up the street, next to Veteran’s Park, was the exhibit for [Fashion Has Heart]. Wounded veterans and artists work together to capture a glimpse of the experience of the veteran. There was a shirt called “Not Forgotten.” In a fading blending of images from the Korean Conflict, James Monroe’s memories are remembered. And I was reminded of my dad’s memories. And again, my eyes were filled.
It happens with visual arts, with live music, with poetry. When I stop and listen and watch and wait, I engage differently. It could be that I never stop. It could be that the way an artist selects and eliminates, makes abstract and concrete, reaches out.
Yesterday, I reposted a reflection on a psalm, a song. My work isn’t poetry, but the song is. Looking to mountains as if for help, then looking on to God. Seeing the maker of everything within sight touching my foot. When we stop, if we stop, we are captivated. And sometimes, we weep.
This is the day I bless the birth of Nancy, married with me for 31 years. And listen to Makoto Fujimura speak about art and this work.