Essay on My Chautauqua

538 Words 3 Pages
My Chautauqua


I have a tendency to forget to breathe when I'm sitting in my art history class. A double slide projector set-up shoots its characteristic artillery - bright colors, intense shapes, inscriptions in languages that are at times read merely as symbols by my untrained mind, archaic figures with bodies contorted like elementary school students on the recess monkey bars. I discuss Diego Rivera's "The Liberation of the Peon," Frida Kahlo's "Self-Portrait," and Anselm Kiefer's "To the Unknown Painter" with my classmates. The room is never silent as we marvel at these images. When the slide projectors give off that first glimmer of light, their Gatsby spot of a blurry green hope at the end of the dock, we depart on our
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No, though, I'm off again. Leaving Africa for Japan, Kitagawa Utamaro's "Woman Bathing Her Baby in a Tub" lets me sit down and observe a life for a moment; it gives me a dramatic taste of what a history book can only dryly hint at. In Spain, Goya's "The Third of May" escorts me into an unsympathetic world where I can smell the salty blood of defeat and hear silent cries from stoic martyrs.


I am a mental vagabond; a drifter, never to be content to stay in one place or with one thought. Of course, I never physically leave the windowless art room when I travel. I don't get any less out of it though. My postcards don't require stamps. It is forty minutes of my day, and an exotic voyage each time. Educator Mortimer Adler says "that the primary cause of genuine learning is the activity of the learner's own mind." I read the words over and over, and pack a paper-bag lunch to send with my imagination on its trek.


I have traveled the world several times over in this fashion, picking up fragments of languages and samplings of pottery. An international education requires, in its simplest form, thinking. Living in an idyllic world, we could send every student to a foreign nation, and expose him or her to customs, ideas, and cultures that otherwise seem too abstract and removed from everyday life. While the costs alone forbid it, the importance of producing worldly

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