Thursday, January 3, 2013

Seattle Art Museum

I had an interesting experience at the Seattle Art Museum today. Maybe I'm reflecting on it more than usual because I spent the day in an art museum, reflecting. Just as, after a day in the art museum, you see a sign for the restroom and think, "The lines. The simple form. The typography. What could it mean? What is the artist trying to convey?"

First, I should note, that over the past two months in Seattle, I've encountered many people who have a New Jersey connection. It's likely a coincidence, but many of the people I've met have told me that they have an aunt, uncle or cousin in New Jersey. It is the most populous state, after all. I sold a few things on Craigslist and all of the buyers, every single one of them, were from, or had lived in, New Jersey. One man was from Hoboken, the city directly north of Jersey City, where I often rode my bike and where I once worked. I chalked it up to Craigslist being more popular with NJ folks.

That may or may not be relevant to my experience at the museum today. I was sitting on this bench, watching a slide show projected on the wall. The exhibit is called "Faces: Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya" by Jake Warga and features one hundred portraits of individuals from these five countries.

While I sat there, a group of about 8 children came by with a teacher or a guide. 2 of the girls sat down on the bench, and the teacher said "Oh, you want to watch the movie for a minute?" More children came over so I slid to the end of the bench so the children could sit together. The teacher came up close to the first two girls and said in a low voice, "What did I tell you about how we behave? That lady was sitting here. You say excuse me." The little girl looked upset so I spoke up and said, "Its ok, I moved over so they could sit together." "Just checking," the teacher said.

More children came over and crowded the little bench. I thought about getting up, but I was worried the teacher might reprimand the students for chasing me away. Then, one of the little girls came, and climbed right into my lap. She sat down right on me. I thought it was cute, kind of like when a kid grabs your hand in a crowd, confusing you for their parent. I thought the teacher was going to die.

One stern look from the teacher and the little girl jumped down. And I noticed that her sweatshirt read, "Long Beach Island, New Jersey." Where I spent all of my childhood summers.

No comments:

Post a Comment