Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"The Mending Wall" in True Form

Nicole Santarpia

This week I had the pleasure of attending the Sue Wrbican art exhibit in the Julio Fine Arts Center. She was presenting her project entitled “Propagation of Uncertainty”. Her theme was transportation, and she spoke about the glory of travel and its journey. Oddly enough I learned more from the people in attendance than the art and her words them self. Wrbican spoke about bringing down “the walls” in society between classes, ourselves, and the outside world. I realized that those who acted like they like they were experts really understood nothing of what their fellow artist was speaking of.

When I got to the art show I walked around carefully studying all the photographs trying to understand the artists meaning and inner thoughts. Her pictures, although well taken and creative, meant nothing to me. I stood there intensely staring at the photographs trying to find some connection; some deeper meaning but I continuously drew a blank. This discouraged me, and I actually thought there was something wrong with me because everyone else around me seemed to have something to say about her work but me. Little did I realize I was going to understand the greatest lesson of all.

I had arrived early to the art exhibit so, for the first twenty minutes I was pretty much by myself. As students started to arrive I was hoping to meet a friendly face or two but no one really wanted to talk to me, which I found rather disappointing. The majority of students were art students and they all kept to a close-knit group even though they hadn’t arrived together. As the artist began her talk there was a clear division in the room: on one side were artists or people of a rather artsy nature and on the other side you had more of your “average Joe”. Anyone walking into the room would notice this metaphorical wall between us. To the left of the room you saw girls with bright red died hair, large indie styled glasses, tall boots, open toed sandals, bracelets all up their arms, and muted colors and guys with long hair pushed back with bandanas, button down shirts not buttoned all the way, neck scarf’s, and peace sign necklaces. To the right side of the room where I stood there were men in sweaters and suits, women in dresses and pant suits, a few students in jeans and shirts and myself in my dress and heels. I smiled at the students across the room but was met with blank and awkward stares. I still can’t understand why it was so hard for them to simply smile back. Wrbican mentioned that life should be like a continuum not a brick wall, and as she said so the people on that other side of the wall shook their heads in agreement. I couldn’t understand how they had the nerve to act as if they had agreed when they themselves had made that “brick wall” between us.

As I stood there I immediately thought of the poem we had discussed earlier that day in class: Robert Frost’s, The Mending Wall. In the poem there are two neighbors who are divided by a wall. One neighbor repeatedly says “good fences make good neighbors” and the other wants to do anything to have some kind of interaction with his neighbor. I was able to connect my situation to the poem. The art students were the neighbor who likes the wall between them, and I was the neighbor who simply wanted some contact. By offering smiles to those I came in eye contact with I was trying got some interaction, but they shut me down by turning their heads and continuing to med the wall. I understood that the artist wanted people to come together as one. When offering up that simple smile those who thought they understood her most shot me down. Ironic isn’t it?

I was hoping to get something out of the Wrbican’s art itself, but unfortunately her spectators stole the show, and the only thing I could think if was The Mending Wall. I found their behavior and the division of the room with its metaphoric “brick wall” down the middle so interesting I began to take notes on it. This situation proved to me that literature and life could always be linked together.

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