I journeyed south from Williamstown to Stockbridge, Massachusetts this morning. My destination was the Norman Rockwell Museum. For decades, I’ve enjoyed his paintings of relationships and everyday life. Norman saw the beauty in us all.
I wanted the Grade 6 kids near Belmont, Ontario to see some paintings, and perhaps to see themselves in them. I texted some pics.
First up was “The Runaway”, featuring a little boy on a stool at the local diner, sitting beside a burly police officer. A middle-aged cook leans forward on the counter, cigarette dangling from his lips. I ran away once, from a summer camp on the shore of Lake Simcoe in Ontario. I was scared and lonely. One night, I walked to the shore, turned left and headed home to Toronto. And there I was in a Rockwell painting.
Then there was a little girl, also sitting on a stool, gazing at herself in a large mirror. A magazine was on her lap, flipped open to the image of a Hollywood starlet. At her feet were a jar of makeup, lipstick and a hair brush. Maybe those girls in Southern Ontario could relate.
A large painting was filled with people and apparel from across the world – young and old, male and female. They all seemed to be gazing at the lower centre of the picture, where these words hovered:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
Finally, a moving van has pulled up to a suburban home. A black girl carries a white cat, and is accompanied by her brother. Three white kids face the newcomers, with a black dog amidst them. Baseball gloves reside on both sides of the painting. The Canadian children’s response? Here’s Tiffany, their teacher: “They think that regardless of the black and white contrast, their pets and sports will bring them together.” Well said.
Google Maps tells me that the Grade 6 kids and I are 738 kilometres apart