This morning, I took my children to an art exhibit.
They weren’t exactly gung-ho (more like riotously grumpy) but I decided this time their preferences didn’t count. They would see art and they would appreciate it, end of discussion and get in the car.
As a board member of the Arts Council of the Valley, I had already been treated to a private tour of the exhibit. Our guide, a woman who knew everything about Shahn (she wrote a book about the guy, for Pete’s sake), gushed information. Her passion was contagious.
I don’t think I did a very good job conveying that passion to the kids. But I sure as heck tried! I wrote down questions for the younger ones and encouraged them to draw a picture they liked. I pointed out interesting facts, read the long quotes out loud, and babbled commentary. Guys, his art is so relevant even today. Isn’t that amazing? And, Look at all the hands. See how he draws small hands on the politicians he doesn’t like? If he were alive today, he’d be having a blast.
Two kids were begrudgingly compliant and one refused to appreciate anything, but my younger son, bless his heart, was totally into it. He had fun looking at Shahn’s photos and then finding the same people in his drawings. He asked questions that I couldn’t answer and got all wrapped up in copying one of the drawings.
The kids were ready to go after about thirty minutes, but I stretched our visit to an hour. I hoped that just by hanging out in the space, some bits and pieces of Shahn’s message would seep into their souls, shoring them up so they could spend their lives fighting for human rights.
Or just not killing each other.