Have you ever wondered if you’re attractive?
If people like you and are drawn to you?
And, if you suspect you’re lacking in this area,
how do you cultivate this elusive quality?
I had reason to ponder this a week ago as I attended an art exhibition,
unlike anything I’d ever seen before.
Not the least because my daughter was one of the exhibitors.
But because all of the artists were teenagers and all their subjects were centenarians – aged 100+ years of age.
On the day of the exhibition, we arrived to a makeshift gallery in a school, with hundreds of people in attendance including the artists, some of their elderly subjects, family and friends. Throngs of people were walking through the display, excited to see the profiles of their loved family members. Beside each portrait was a paragraph written by the artist, about what they learned from spending time with their elderly subject. The insights were quite telling.
On the face of it, the teens’ task was to portray the elderly person in front of them. The more discerning artists understood that to accurate illustrate their subjects, they had first to understand them.
One elderly lady posed playfully and proudly in front of her finished portrait, lapping up the attention on the day and laughing as people acknowledged her striking resemblance to the picture behind her.
In all it was a celebration of a life well lived.
As I turned a corner, there was a back room, almost deserted, with only a few pieces in it.
Curious, I walked in - and there, in a section on its own, was a depiction of a woman in blues and black which shocked and moved me.
Intrigued, I walked over to study the art more closely.
Imagine if I were her grand-daughter and this was my Nanna – this sad, tortured cold image!
"Excuse me, what drew you to that piece?" a young blonde girl asked me.
I thought about it, and decided to comment on the courage it took for the artist to portray that image.
"I am the artist," the girl responded.
She then explained that the women depicted had since died but was fiercely independent and somewhat hardened by life (as evidenced by her portrayal).
Sadly, I think that the art of connection had not been fully achieved in this instance.
From this, I learned 2 things:
If you focus on the art, the superficial impression – you may miss the point.
This art was probably an accurate reflection - and in a gallery would serve the intention of shocking and provoking the audience. However, this audience may have included family, and therefore the representation was not as gracious as it could have been. In failing to consider the context, the connection was lost, as people were not drawn to the piece.
Applied to the outside world, I see depictions on instagram and social media, that become art, and unintentionally alienate as people can not always relate.
You must understand that connection inevitably involves love and pain.
The colour you use to paint the masterpiece of your life – your legacy – is that which lives beyond you. Regardless of age and circumstance, when it comes down to it, all we have is the energy we bring to our relationships, and our stories. These will be coloured by our joy or disappointment in life. We are the artists of our life and daily choose the colours we live into.
Today, as you go about your life, I encourage you to look beyond the superficial in knowing and understanding the people you meet and live with. Look beyond the art, the Instagram image, the visual depiction and take the time to be with someone.
Beyond that, consider carefully the colours you live by.
No-one wants to be the blue nanna.