Yesterday I visited a new outdoor sculpture gallery on the Christian Science Plaza in Boston’s Back Bay and was just blown away by the experience. The Plaza, which attracts thousands of visitors each year from all over the world, is a 14-acre pedestrian refuge amid the busy traffic patterns of Boston’s urban environment.
So here I am on this long walk, staring at larger than life sculptures that make visible and knowable the ineffable things of the spirit. The sculptures invite you in to look, think, hope, dream, and actually be a part of the experience. My first thoughts were the transformations I observed in the wide array of materials that had been used and how they had been shaped and reshaped into something new. In some of the pieces, it was possible to see and know the past life of the materials, where they had been and perhaps even what they had experienced prior to their new life on the plaza. In others, the past was deeply hidden beneath a shiny mirror-like finish that reflected the passing clouds. The artists had chipped away at the stone and twisted and hammered the metal, teaching the material to yield and surrender to a new way of being. I was struck by the natural movement inherent in each piece and how they connected as a whole, moving me along piece by piece as if encouraged by a gentle breeze.
I realized during my walk that the transformations experienced by the materials at the hands of the sculptors are very much like our own personal experiences as we move through our lives. Just as the sculptor’s tools teach the stone to talk and the steel to sing, experiences in our lives mold and shape us, teaching us to surrender, to move beyond, and to push us forward enlivening our experience of who we are and how we fit in the world. The sculptors create their art by risking, cobbling things together, and pushing their materials to the outer limit with the hope and dream that the sculpture will come to life and catch fire. Each of us as human beings evolve similarly through our individual and collective experiences, positive or negative, animating our understanding of who we are and motivating the way we take on our work and everyday life.
As I walked through the outdoor gallery in this exhibit called Convergence, I was struck by the power of the art—how they worked together as a whole while taking advantage of their individual and unique beginnings, situations, and surroundings. They were each created using distinct artistic technologies and skill, yet work together naturally to create a unified whole. We all have something to learn from the coming together of these distinctive artistic sculptures and how they came to their way of being in the world.