Thursday, January 26, 2017

When Discussing Art There's Always A Right Answer.

The other weekend Jon and I took the kids to Canada. Pretty much just to see if their passports worked. Of course, if they actually didn't work I don't know what we were going to do about it. Leave them at the border I suspect. I'm sure they'd find a cozy boxcar and work various odd jobs for pay. Probably for a doctor. I'm sure I read about some kids that did that once....

Anyway, there we all were in Canada (legally, it turns out) on our way to visit the natural history museum. Because, let's face it, there's nothing our family likes to do more on vacations than visit museums and other educational geological sites. 

Unless it's a giant object! We'd totally go out of our way to see that!




Which we had to admire from the car.
Instead of getting out and posing with.
Like cowhands.
 Because someone fell asleep.

Anyway, there we were, in Canada, outside the museum, when my kids stopped and stared at this work of art:

And we had this conversation:

Katie: (with her thinking face on, the one that's a bit wrinkled around the eyebrows) How come the parents don't have bodies?

Ellie: (whisper giggling) They don't have any bottoms!

Me: Well, it's art. Why do you think the artist didn't make bodies?

Ellie: (giggling, still, because she's in the stage where the word "bottom" is funny) The baby has a bottom!

Katie: (hesitating, because she's in the stage where she doesn't like to give the wrong answer) Hmmmm....What do you think, Mommy?

Me: (without pausing because I'm in the stage of life where I know everything. Because I'm the mom.) Weeeeeelllll... Perhaps the artist is trying to symbolize, through the absence of the parental bodies, the fading of our lives that, as adults, we become aware of when we bring a new life into the world. It's representing how life is a circle, one of death and birth. In this sculpture the baby represents the future. And, perhaps here, the artist wanted to show how life is sustained by the sacrifice of oneself through love, how that sacrificial love is instrumental and necessary in order to bring the future about. How the past, our personal past as well as humanity's collective past, feeds and nourishes that what is to come.

Katie & Ellie: (giving each other the "um, mommy is being weird but we should be nice about it anyway" look)

Ellie: (Explaining. Slowly.) Or, maybe, mommy, the artist just forgot to make the bodies.

Katie: (head tilt, thinking face) Yeah. That makes sense....

Dudes. I may have misjudged which stage of life I'm in.

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