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Learning from History

I grew up venturing around D.C., and my favorite part of it was the free Smithsonian museums, namely the Air & Space (I used to think I would become an astronaut), Natural History, and National Gallery of Art. I'd wander for hours there while my parents were at work, and rendezvous at our meeting point.

The museums are a little out of our way, so we make an entire day of it. I remember when I was in Taiwan for the first time since infanthood, I marveled at the marbeled walls of the Taroko Gorge, and how fascinatingly perfect they were, unencumbered by human interference.

Yet with statues, with paintings of nature, it is immediately the human's appreciation for nature, our birth, that can craft the form that we cannot resist. It's the stone that becomes liquid, the grapes that become jade.

Traipsing into the gallery showcasing Fragonard, and finding myself between spring in Fragonard's "Blindman's Bluff" and "The Swing", I remember so well feeling self-conscious about being immersed in art and wanting to be part of the art, of the human experience, and being so aware of all the criticisms from museum-goers who seemed to zip through the exhibits. And then I realized that I am, in my own way, appreciating the art and my creation as artfully as I know how. Art should not just be up for display, it should be experienced, internalized.

I thought it fitting that I found Horatio Greenough's bust of Samuel Morse, as the heels of our shoes tapped their way around the museum, silencing the upholders of societal norms.


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