Yesterday at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston I stood before this painting more than any other. It is called Museum Epiphany III by Warren Prosperi (2012).
It didn’t take me long to realize the painting, the only modern one in this American Art gallery, was set in this very room. In fact, the first thing I did was locate the artist’s view point.
The next thing I did was to see what the girl saw.
When you look closely at the painting you see, through her hair, the mother’s lips as she whispers to her daughter. Perhaps she tells her daughter the story of The Blind Girl. The daughter is arrested in a absent-minded gesture, fingers combing her hair. Perhaps the woman on the left overhears the conversation, whose ear is uncovered by hair and seems to be highlighted by the artist. Both the central figures wear flowing white, the artist illustrating how art can draw us in, making us identify with the maker.
Each of the figures in the painting engages with the museum art on some level. I saw all kinds yesterday myself: artists standing before a piece and copying, school kids flocking from room to room with guide in tow, people moving briskly through a room to get to something beyond, and individuals who stood long and quietly before one piece of work. I did all those myself, as I was visiting with the Challenge II class and with my soon-to-be-art-student-in-college daughter who had her sketch book with her.
After three hours I was mentally fatigued. I want to go back with Sylvia, who hopes to attend art college next fall. And I don’t even mind Boston, quirky city, as long as I have a navigator beside me.
And now we can all say we have been to Boston in the fall.