This summer finds me enjoying a waterside view every week. The presence of water in our lives is a precious thing, as anyone who lives in California can now confirm. In Boston each week I am energized by my access to the Fort Point Channel and the Seaport District. There is a HarborWalk extending from Congress Street to the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston where I go to bask in the art and talk with artists and visitors on a regular basis. On my way to the Institute on Northern Avenue I pass the Boston Tea Party Museum and the Children’s Museum. As the summer has rolled along the area is filled with visitors in the high spirits of vacation and sunshine reflected off the surface of the windowed building facades and the surface of the sparkling water. Summer in the City may be dirty and gritty but what I see from the ICA is a broad stretch of Boston Harbor busy with boats plying the waters for sail and commerce, planes angling off for new destinations and a bright horizon of possibility!
This is not my standard fare by any means and I’m soaking up as much as I can during my assignment as an ICABoston Summer Educator. The Institute is a living, breathing object in concert with its surroundings and the full array of works on view it houses. What an explosion of new work the curators have put together this summer! I’ve been on a steep learning curve to absorb the exhibits’ essentials and make it accessible to viewers of all ages – something I consider my signature creative work.
It’s been challenging, even overwhelming at times to add a level of complexity to my usual fare. I put my trust in transformative experiences, though, and believe in the potential for positive growth from unforeseen circumstances. I know I’ve made the right decision as a wash of collective energy surges forward when I leave South Station and enter into the city. At the museum being surrounded by art, artists and a strong purpose allows me to transcend my personal world and take part in a much larger vision. My creative spirit soars just writing about it!
Water helps balance the experience. Walking beside it or sitting in it’s presence and watching the gentle action of the current, the wind fluttering the surface or looking out further to the movement of boats and the trailing wake many leave behind them slows down that rush of energy and allows the mind to calm. Sitting on a bench along the HarborWalk or on the deck of the museum I open my mind full of all I’ve seen and let it flow into the water. Releasing the jumble of interactions, artworks, and sensory input I feel refreshed and receptive to insights and new perspectives.
One aspect of the very diverse summer feature exhibit- Arlene Shechet/All at Once – is the use of blue and white. This combination is present in creative work worldwide and the use of indigo (a subject I’ve written about before, see #MakeItHappen) has ancient roots in contemporary practice. One line of thinking on the prevalence and universally pleasing nature of blue and white in art and design relates to how we feel near water. The feeling of being both calm and curiously energized has a positive effect on our wellbeing and even improves our effectiveness at our work. For more on this read: Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols.
This summer the regular practice of looking at water allows me to take in the city with new eyes. There is buoyancy to my step when I cross the bridge and head to the train station. As the train pulls away and I head for home I hold the image of water in my mind. I’ve learned the following already this summer:
The work of artists (we are all artists of our own lives) takes courage.
They need to give themselves permission to experiment.
They need to be patient while something new emerges.
They need to have faith that where they are will lead them to something new.
May you make this summer one of new discoveries and familiar pleasures!
Lobster Roll and Softshell Crab, Rabia’s, North End.
PS: July 31 is Free Fun Friday at the ICABoston, I’ll be there!
all photos Claire Mauro