The Point of Connection

Jean Baptiste Camille Corot - Ville d'Avray

One of the most magical moments in art is the point of connection between artist and observer. That time of recognition that occurs when the work of art stirs something in the observer eliciting a sense of shared experience – a “me too” factor – that eliminates the idea that our unique experience of the world is an isolated one.

Jean Baptiste Camille Corot - An Orchard at Harvest Time

Years ago, I had seen a beautiful landscape painting by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot at the Metropolitan Museum that literally stopped me in my tracks. As a gardener, I find many of Corot’s landscapes stunning – he depicts the loveliness of nature so perfectly - but this particular painting transported me right into his landscape. It was of a morning harvest, and immediately I could feel the coolness in the air, smell the moist, sweet earth, feel the hint of the warmth of the sun that was just rising. There was something about his use of light and color that resonated so clearly with my own experience of morning, and nature and working the earth that the boundaries of time, space and separate experience vanished, and I was left with the sense of shared experience.

Similarly,  a few weeks ago, I was reading a book review by Robert Rastelli of Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna and his turn of phrase, “…Herein lies the merciless search for love and the heart,” evoked an instant emotional response. I had never regarded the search for love as merciless, yet those five simple words, “the merciless search for love” tapped into the feelings of “mercilessness” of every unrequited teenage crush, of every failed attempt at parental approval, or any time I had ever subjugated who I was for who I thought someone else had wanted me to be. I marveled at how a deft hand with paint or prose can unearth a personal collection of human emotion and experience as simply as a key unlocks a door.

Jean Baptiste Camille Corot - Souvenir of Riva

And how powerful art is. All forms of art are ultimately about connection. Even those individuals for whom the “point” of art is to shock or challenge their audience, the core of such provocative work - even if its primary intent is to alienate – paradoxically and inevitably connects us to the artist. It has to because the creation of art is inherently an exercise in self-expression, and key to connecting with one another. Amazing when you think what else but art can connect us to one another even when we try for it not to?

How does art serve you?

Article by LYDIA GNAU


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