Mr. Haas, the art teacher at our rural junior high school, brought us to the small auditorium attached to the library. My classmates and I filed in with spiral notebooks and pencils in hand, found a seat and played with the tabletops that could be swiveled up and around to use as a writing surface.He had set up a slide projector, fan whirring, white light shining on the screen at the front of the room. Flipping the lights off, Mr. Haas settled into a seat next to the projector so he could advance the slides.We were instructed to take notes as he told us the name of the piece, the artist, the date, techniques, relevant historical notes and other significant facts. Later he would give us a test, so we had to know it.He clicked the button, the carousel turned, and the first slide dropped in place.cha-chunkMonet’s water liliescha-chunkVan Gogh’s Starry Nightcha-chunkGauguin’s Tahitian womencha-chunk Degas’ dancerscha-chunkSeurat’s circuscha-chunk…Dots, movement and color swirled in my head. I scribbled notes as Mr. Haas lectured, eager to double-check dates and spell Impressionism and Pointillism correctly. After I captured the information on my lined notebook paper, I would look up and stare at the image. Mr. Haas couldn’t linger long on any one slide, so I only got glimpses. Yet I carried them with me long after the screen went white and the lights went on.I didn’t realize how deeply they had sunk into my soul until about a decade later, on my honeymoon, when I entered the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.Stumbling into the space, I found myself face-to-face with familiar friends:Monet. Van Gogh. Degas… Reunited unexpectedly with all those artists and paintings I’d memorized in junior high, I was giddy, pulling my new husband from one painting to the next.Manet, Seurat, Renoir, Pissarro…I tried to explain those lectures, Mr. Haas’s slides, and the place in my soul where I’d stored the paintings, the memories, all this time.Millet, Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec… So much was new to me on that trip—marriage, language, customs, even international travel itself—but there I was in the middle of Paris, standing in a room with old friends from junior high.Memories of my art class came streaming back to me after reading Zena’s story of her first-grade teacher leading the entire class on a hike. After about 20 minutes, they made it to the top of a hill. Zena recalls:
It felt exhilarating to stand on top of what back then seemed like a huge mountain, feeling the breath of the wind in your face, and overlooking the city that sprawled beneath us. Besides, it wasn’t every day that we actually could roam and play and climb hills outside during the class time.“Okay, kiddos, look straight.”We all did, waiting for what will come next.“See where the sky meets the earth?”“Yeah!”“This is called a horizon – the line where the sky and the earth seems to meet. They don’t meet in reality, of course, but it looks like it.”
Then Zena posed this question:Did you have lessons / classes like that the memory of which remained with you until this day? I’m responding here, with the story of Mr. Haas’s art class, when he introduced me to great art and the world seemed bigger and more beautiful than ever.I discovered Zena through Charity Singleton’s TheHighCalling.org community project, “There & Back Again.“
- Choose another High Calling Blogger to visit. It can be someone you have “met” before, or do what I do, and work your way through the “Member Posts” section of thehighcalling.com to meet someone new.
- Visit his blog, digesting the message until it becomes something that you can write about.
- Go back to your blog and write about it, being sure to link to the post that gave you the idea so that your readers can visit, too.
- Add the button to your blog so your readers know you are participating in “There and Back Again.”
- Go back to the Network blog and leave a comment so your new friend can feel the link love!
- Complete the journey by returning here, to Wide Open Spaces, and enter your link so that we all can benefit from the new High Calling connection you have made.