I spent part of yesterday wandering slowly through the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I say it is my favorite museum, not just because of the artwork it holds or the magnificence of the internal space or even for the endless windows that you can sit in front of and gaze out to the surrounding city landscape. I say it is my favorite because it is the museum where I first discovered the restorative power of art. And it was Willem de Kooning’s Woman I that did it.
I was sixteen. In New York City for the first time. In an art museum for the first time. I looked at Woman I and saw myself. It was as if de Kooning had reached inside my heart and shown me a portrait of how I imagined my internal space.
So ever since then, when I am in New York, I try to make it to MOMA. Usually without any particular agenda. I wander; see what catches me.
And yesterday it was Susan Rothberg’s 1974 painting Triphammer Bridge. It was the stillness of the horse that pulled me in. That was able to transform my agitated mind into peace. Within seconds, I felt like the horse—soft, held, quiet. And so grateful for this painting, for Susan Rothberg and her vision. And for all creatives, who try in their own unique ways to navigate their way through the mysteries of life. Who create their own roadmaps with their paintings and poems and novels and music.
Which reminds me of a quote by Albert Murray I came across the other day on Sean Singer’s blog: Once the writer accepts the obligation which comes with knowledge of the chaos which underlies all human life, he must also accept another. He must presume to go beyond established categories. As with the self-elected dragon slayer who would save his fellow citizens, he must choose his own weapons and proceed as a one-man expeditionary force into the unsafe territory of the outlying regions.
All of us—creatives, CEO’s, students, parents—are making our way through life, and though it is a solitary journey in many ways, we help each other by sharing our life-earned wisdoms and experiences. Susan Rothberg’s painting reminds me of the power of expression, the importance of sharing one’s heart and purpose, and how deeply even the simplest things can touch the soul and remind us that we are not alone.