Another long, white hall stretches out before me.
Four openings mark out the entrances into additional exhibit halls, each containing another small collection – Dutch landscapes on the left, a collection of reformation portraits on the right. But before me, a hall… and a question.
Why am I even here?
I’ve seen this before, haven’t I? Sure, they are different paintings, but really, are they? After a half dozen major art museums, they all fade together into one massive canvas filled with grumpy women and fruit bowls.
I search the halls for an abstract piece, something that will show struggle and contrast. I seek defiance depicted. I want the depiction of an idea already known. It’s what I like. It’s what I understand.
There is nothing new under the sun, they say. How could we even know, if we only see what we want to see? A world after our own design unfolds before us, projections of our understanding on every word, page, and painting.
I search for something new. I know my patterns; I know my processes. I know there has to be a way forward, but my world seems to be a closed circuit. The same processes run their same courses, endlessly taking in copies of the same content.
A friend approaches me, asking me to follow her into the next exhibit. She shows me a war scene, signaling the desperation in the faces of the women who are left to clean the bloodstained streets. She explains that their despair is one of the main focuses of the scene, since the lighting gives it such a prominent place.
I listen as her enthusiasm for the piece washes over me. I had just walked by it thirty minutes previously, but now I see something… something new. And in that moment, “I’ve seen this before” fades from my lips, and a brand new world opens before me.
It’s a painting, but it’s a voice. It’s telling a story, my story – our story, but in a way I’ve never heard before. Maybe I didn’t hear it because I hadn’t stopped to listen. Maybe I didn’t hear it because I never knew I could care about it.
Maybe there is hope for us still, that something new could spring up.
Maybe it looks like long, white halls waiting to be listened to.