Friday Two Cents: I Am Still Learning


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   To say that this week was a busy one for me would be understating it. On top of lesson plans for my practicum class, I had two papers and a small assignment for one class and another assignment for my read aloud story in another. Add to it, I had the responsibility, with two great group partners, to lead the class in prayer and present our chapter review. Mind you, I did enjoy the chapter and presenting it with them. Then on Friday and Saturday I went to the When Faith Meets Pedagogy conference in Toronto. It is a conference where catholic school boards from Ontario and other provinces in Canada come together and explore the ways in which we can bring your faith into the curriculum. It was a truly enjoyable two days but added to the other two items I had to do, plus regular responsibilities I have, it was a very hectic week.

  Yet there was a ray of inspiration that I had been looking forward to for a few weeks, the Michelangelo: Quest for Genius exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Michelangelo has been a huge impact in my life of art. I have always been at awe with his wondrous imagination and creation. From the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to his sculptures of the Pieta and of course David. His creations inspired me to create, draw and imagine the unimaginable.

  He constantly drew and that was the way he communicated. The exhibit is a collection of his drawings on loan to the AGO from the Casa Bounarroti in Florence. I had to go to a math conference the same night but I could not turn down a teacher inspired lecture and private tour of the master, I simply must go down and see them. As well I needed to enjoy something just for my enjoyment, to keep my sanity.

  I went the exhibit knowing he would inspire me again, but I did not know how much. There was one piece that so moved me that I must share my experience with you. The piece is a small drawing of Cleopatra. It was a gift to someone he knew to express a forbidden love, but it is not the story that I want to share. The image is strikingly beautiful, depicting Cleopatra looking away as the asp is coiling around her breast about to bit her. The image is drawn with black chalk on paper and is, want for a better word, perfect. Yet on the reverse of the drawing there is another image. It is a rough drawing of Cleopatra staring right at you after the asp has bitten her. In her unfinished eyes and lips you can see the pain of the venom coursing through her veins and her realization that she is about to die. You can feel her pain even though the work is not finished. It is so hauntingly beautiful, you cannot deny the genius of Michelangelo from this one drawing.  Even as an unfinished work,  he can elicit such emotion of the human condition.

Michelangelo’s Cleopatra : Front

Michelangelo’s Cleopatra: Reverse

  This and many more exquisite pieces are on display at the AGO. I am so glad I took the time from my crazy world to stop and enjoy it and be inspired. Michelangelo spent over 70 years working on his craft doing it everyday until the end of his life. With the many things happening in my life, I have not had much time to just sit and draw. I need to do more of this. If you do not practice constantly you get lazy and part of your skill is dulled. I need to sharpen my creativity, to continue to grow with my art, for I do not know it all. I have to keep in mind what Michelangelo once said, I am still learning. As a teacher, truer words were never spoken.

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