I’ve tried for the longest time to understand art,
yet it always seems to evade me.
With camera at the ready,
I’m your average tourist,
looking for something interesting and new–
something exciting and original
that I haven’t seen anywhere else.
More often than nought,
I manage to come across a piece fitting this description.
Finding original works of beauty has never been a problem,
especially with the wealth of creativity that exists today.
The problem is–
I don’t get it.
I love looking at photographs,
admiring the work of digital artists,
even gazing over beautiful paintings.
I can stand for twenty minutes and intensely analyze a piece,
only to realize that my interpretations were completely
off base with the author’s.
Who knows better than the author,
Today, it hit me.
Not just hit me–
it barreled into me with the strength of a freight train,
knocking my sorry ass to the concrete sidewalk of Chicago
as I was trying to grasp the meaning of a sculpture.
When I stood up and recovered,
I looked down at the boy as he dusted himself off.
“I’m sorry mister!”
At eight or nine years old,
this boy was very clearly mistaken.
“We’re on our school trip to Chicago today!
Are you here on one too?!”
His excitement made me laugh,
eyes holding me in place with the intense gaze only a kid could muster.
“Actually I am.
Do you like the sculpture?”
I could barely contain myself as I watched him twist his entire body
and lower his head to get a different view.
“I think it’s a lion.”
Title of the sculpture on the plaque?
David and Goliath of Gath.
As I was about to read the plaque aloud for him and explain,
his friend ran up to him and pointed at the statue.
It’s an elephant!”
It turns out,
if I wanted to truly “get” art,
all it would have taken was a simple conversation
between with a second grader named Kyle.
I understood art.
**Photographs taken by Zach C. Smith