A VISIT TO THE MUSEUM

Julia at WAMA (With Her Classmates) in The Community Center 109 (1024x677) (3)I was still recovering when my son, Vanja, asked me to meet my granddaughter’s  class at the museum for their tour, and I had my doubts. But, when he told me Julia had asked if Nanny would be there, I knew I would go.

There must have been at least twenty children and adults in our “tour”, and my little camera did overtime as I focused and shot, determined to record their journey. Yet, later, when I looked at the shots of the larger group, I found a need to pull closer…to select and crop in order to catch the response of small groups and individuals. Each child matters so much in the overall experience.

It has been more than two weeks since that joyous day with Julia and her classmates, and time has allowed me to gaze upon faces and gestures and come to know them a bit. I am also revisiting my extraordinary father’s murals through their pristine perceptions. I thank them for that.

Julia at WAMA (A Dance of Hands) in The Community Center 118 (1024x768) (2)It all started with Melissa, who greeted the children at the door and escorted them into The Community Center: a large room originally built for community functions. In the fifties my father was paid a dollar to paint murals on the walls. One wall would depict the history of our little town of Ocean Springs. The rest of the room would be painted according to the artist’s choosing. (I was taking ballet lessons in the room while my father was painting those walls.) Melissa established a rapport with children from the beginning. She is a marvelous storyteller and teacher, and part of being a kindergartener is getting close and bonding with a teacher.  As I looked through these images, hands and faces seemed as expressive as the painted murals. In fact they seemed to be interdependent.  Their union completes the picture.

Julia at WAMA (Can We Fly, Too) in The Community Center 113 (1024x661) (2)

I think I will never see this pelican again without also seeing the enthusiastic raising of small hands.

Julia at WAMA (I Love You, Nanny) in The Community Center 106 (1024x713) (2)Nor will I ever forget the loving gaze I received from Julia. I still feel the love that she paused to send in her Nanny’s direction. Her happiness was palpable, and I was, amazingly, part of that.

 Inspired by her love Julia at WAMA ( My Father's Birds) in The Community Center 121 (768x1024) (2)

and my father’s spiraling birds,

I led the children in a small dance of bird-like freedom.

Julia was ready;

 her lovely arms were ascending,

unfolding in the Airth way to form wings.

Child-wings soon filled the air,

eyes were alight with flight.

I may have been a grandmother

and the air around me filled

with fledglings,

Yet, together, we were dancing/flying with my father’s birds.

Julia at WAMA (The Light Is Passed) in The Little Room 140 (925x1024) (2)After an extremely reluctant descent from the world of bird, the still softly peeping children were led by the patient Melissa down the long hallway to The Little Room.

The Little Room was once attached to Walter Anderson’s cottage on the Shearwater Pottery compound. For many years after my father’s death in 1965, visitors were led into the painted room as into the holy of holies, often by my mother, the artist’s wife.

Mama’s reverence for the room

was now echoed by Melissa.

Her rapt expression even reminded me

of my mama’s…

as the light from the window caused her to glow

along with the walls.

I remember Mama standing in the room

her arm raised and her hand

all turned to light.

Here, now, was little Julia standing

beside Melissa

her small hand turned to light.

And all the children were receiving…

LIGHT!

Julia at WAMA (Enthralled By Beauty) in The Little Room 137 (1024x953) (2)

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11 Responses to “A VISIT TO THE MUSEUM”

  1. Kendall Says:

    The color spills in waves of light from the walls onto the flesh of these children and their rapt teacher. Your pictures are exquisite compositions, music for the eyes, incorporating your father’s paint, the light, color painting faces and hands, hands reaching into light, bodies, like the bodies of your mother and father, turning into light.

  2. adele Says:

    Wonderful! As always. I believe that this should be made into a storyboard for the museum. It would definitely enrich the viewer’s experience of the murals. Thank you, Leif, I love you.

  3. Linda Wittmann Says:

    Linda Wittmann

  4. Nita Wilson Says:

    This is beautiful Leif. I remember as a child seeing the Community Center for the first time and being spell bound in awesome appreciation. Of course, back then, I just said, I liked it. I used to take customers from the showroom to the little room and sometimes I didn’t want to leave once they were finished with their tour, but since my paycheck depended on getting back to the showroom, I had to leave and shut the door behind me.

    • leiflife Says:

      Dear Nita, I’m grateful to have awakened happy memories. I think probably Daddy’s murals do that for all of us who grew up in their light.

  5. xristophoros Says:

    Thank you, Leif! Words and imagen are so alive, I feel as If I were there.

  6. Julia O'Neal Says:

    Oh Melissa, you should be so proud! What a fine teacher you are.

  7. leiflife Says:

    Kendall, thank you for your generous response. Lovely to think of it all “turning into light”.

  8. leiflife Says:

    Adele, dear cousin, so glad to have your words here…and your suggestion. And thanks to Linda for visiting.

  9. leiflife Says:

    Christopher, wonderful to have your words. It would be even more wonderful to have your presence.

  10. Sally Johnson Says:

    Beautiful paintings, beautiful children, beautiful lyrical words. Thank you for bringing this to life for us.

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