Art and Peonies

At the end of my fifth grade year, my then teacher, Ms. Barnes, gifted me with a Georgia O’Keeffe print on a poster. Though I’m not sure what happened to it afterwards, I remember a swirl of bright orange hues, moving along the crinkled lines suggesting the inner ruffles of a flower.  I remember too, the joyful awe I felt at being entrusted with such a gift.

peony petals

I felt almost the same way today, when I stepped out the back door and found this peony bloom swaying precariously on its too-thin stalk. It truly amazes me that the small hard marble-like blossoms can hold the extravagance of ruffles that is a fully opened peony bloom.

peony_water droplet

One of art’s purposes (among many) is to teach us to see. Without the Georgia O’Keeffe poster, I may have noticed the beauty of flowers, but would I have the desire to drink in their color? To marvel at the lines and patterns whose life, energy and beauty only a consummate artist can express? To stand in awe as the recipient of such a gift?

favorite things

18 years have passed since that day, and though I’ve since lost the poster, art (both visual and written) continues to teach me to see–and to receive beauty as a great gift.

 

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