Lasting Impressions

What began as lunch today, ended up as art. After finishing my salad, I realized that beet juice and olive oil had left an interesting design on the plate. A tree, perhaps? Coral?


The words lasting impressions whispered through my mind. Isn’t that how art (of any kind) touches us? It imprints us with something—leaving behind a sense of wonder, amazement, indifference, anger, or call to action. 


My family headed to Michigan over spring break to visit the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA). What a stellar museum! Our initial draw was the “Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit” exhibit. It shows preparatory drawings of Industrial murals that Rivera painted at the museum in the 1930’s, as well as Kahlo’s artistic efforts that began during that time.


Both the exhibit and the murals were fascinating. Rivera was a champion of the common worker, and managed to stay true to his principles while pleasing the wealthy industrialists who hired him. Kahlo’s work ranges from whimsical to disturbing. I sensed that she was a strong woman who wasn’t afraid to confront her inner demons.


We experienced serendipity in the form of a photography exhibit by Corine Vermeulen. This Dutch-born photographer was commissioned by the museum to show the vibrant diversity of the local communities. Young and old, rappers, students, dancers, bicycle enthusiasts, gardeners… The photographs are incredible. What really struck me was how Vermeulen captures the essence of a person. Almost no one is masked beneath a smile, but oh, how their eyes project the depths of a beautiful soul.


There are many interesting collections at the museum, and it was wonderful seeing new-to-me work by Impressionist artists I love, such as Monet, Renoir, and Mary Cassatt, and modern artists such as Dale Chihuly.


It was fun to experience the DIA with my husband and our two children, both Art + Design students. It was a sweet adventure that will stick with me a long, long time. And Detroit itself? It is a city of contrasts, with the potential to burst into bloom once again when the conditions are right. I truly hope that happens.



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