Jan Hagan, the Museum’s Call Center Team Leader, talks to a lot of people during his daily routine of taking phone calls and answering questions about the Museum. Often, beyond just providing information, Jan strikes up conversations with callers and learns the stories behind their planned visits to the Museum. Sometimes, those stories are touching, sometimes funny, and sometimes just downright inspiring. Here’s a story from this past fall that Jan learned about a young visitor and the impact of art in his life. (Jan has changed the young man’s name for this post.) –LD
Like many kids, Brandon was looking forward to a stay with his grandparents where he was sure to be provided with all the opportunities for fun that only grandparents can provide. Coming all the way across the country from California to Bella Vista in Northwest Arkansas was going to be an adventure in itself, but this trip held a special attraction for him.
Five years ago, as a typical seven-year-old boy, Brandon’s life was filled with all the priorities of a boy his age—advancing to the next level of his favorite video game, skateboarding down the street with his friends, and, oh yes, devoting time to get his homework done in time for school the next day. With the boundless energy of a young boy, life for Brandon seemed to be an endless string of new adventures.
Then he was diagnosed with cancer.
Now, five years later, Brandon thought about how his life’s circumstances had changed and how he too had changed as he and his family bravely struggled along the path to recovery. In talking to his grandparents, the discussion turned to the new interest Brandon had developed while spending endless hours in chemotherapy treatments and extended rest. He shared with his grandparents how the discovery of his talent for drawing and painting had opened his eyes to new ways of seeing the world. Sharing his imagination through his own art had led to an interest in and an appreciation of the artistic expression of others.
Now in full remission, Brandon looked forward to visiting his grandparents. But he was also interested in their special gift to him that was to be the highlight of his trip … a visit to Crystal Bridges and the very special exhibition, State of the Art.
About a month after his visit to Crystal Bridges, Brandon’s grandparents reported back to let me know how it went. Brandon was thrilled with his opportunity to visit the Museum and especially the State of the Art exhibition. They reported that Brandon was inspired and energized by the fact that art from new artists could be discovered all across the country, even from his home town.
Brandon is still a kid, still interested in getting back to the skateboard with his friends–but now he has a new life goal … to be a professional artist. I wouldn’t bet against him making it!
Crystal Bridges is a wonderful resource to inspire and motivate budding young artists. The Museum offers our guests of all ages opportunities for artistic expression through our Experience Art Studio, classes, workshops, summer camps, drop-in art making, and more. If you visit the Museum between now and June 1, be sure to stop by our Artist’s Studio area, adjacent to the Temporary Exhibition Gallery housing the exhibition Van Gogh to Rothko: Masterworks from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Here you can create your own wire sculpture, draw a self portrait, experiment with water painting on Buddha Boards, and more. You might just tap into your inner artist.