It is with mixed feelings that I pen my last blog post for Crystal Bridges. I am embarking on a new chapter in my career, leaving the museum to embrace the writer’s life. It’s an exciting and, yes, a slightly terrifying move. I suppose any new endeavor feels that way in the beginning.
However, I’ve done it before—I came to Crystal Bridges with only a very basic understanding of American art. Most of the artists in the museum’s collection were completely new to me; and some of them were, frankly, baffling. Nevertheless, over time I learned about the artists, their work, and what motivated it, and gradually the stories unfolded for me, giving me new perspectives on American history and experience. I have also had the privilege of interviewing dozens of artists—some famous, some relatively unknown. From them I have come to understand the impulses to create and communicate that drive them, and to recognize the same needs in myself and in others.
As we all live in this world, and we all encounter similar stuff. We love certain people and places. We struggle with change. We dream of the future and remember the past. We all experience moments of transcendence and moments of despair. In that respect, the artists in Crystal Bridges’ collection are no different from me or you. Their stuff is the same as ours, it is their means of grappling with that stuff and translating it into a sharable, visual form that is unique. And sharing—communicating—is key. Every artist I interviewed spoke of their desire to share their experience, through their artwork, with others. Every one of them was striving to facilitate a connection that would elicit a corresponding human impulse in the viewer. Every single one. For me, that realization has opened doors to greater understanding and appreciation of the artists, the artwork, and on some level, the human condition itself. No matter where my future path may lead, I will carry that with me for the rest of my life.
And isn’t that what Crystal Bridges is supposed to do?
Change is hard. Change is good. I go forward holding this place, its lessons, and all the people associated with it, in my heart.