Through the Eyes of the Beholder

A picture. A thousand words.

The viewer’s interpretation. The artist’s intent. The evocation. The inspiration.

The emotions. The feelings. The thoughts.

The gestalt. The detail. The distance. The closeness.

My friend is an artist who creates glass tile mosaics. Her pieces are stunning. They have depth. They have soul. They have light. They speak.

My friend is stunning. She has depth. She has soul. She has light. She speaks.

She and her husband have three adult sons, the eldest of whom lives with his wife in Israel. They are very much in harm’s way.

Since the October 7 atrocities, the stress in my friend’s life has been unbearable. Yet she’s bearing it. Because what choice is there other than to do so?

She has “sketched” out her next piece as a painting. The painting is beautiful. And haunting. This is what my artistically untrained eyes see:

A dark, stormy sky over a churning ocean. A thin tightrope stretches across the painting. There is a dark, shadowy silhouette of a person on the tightrope, left knee bent, left foot and right hand on the rope, right leg hanging down, left arm up at the level of the figure’s head. I can hear the wind and the surf in the picture. Although there is no lightning depicted, I can hear a low, rumbling thunder.

I look at the figure on the rope. Are they falling? Are they tired? Have they just lost their footing and caught themselves? Are they in the process of pulling themselves back up? Are they edging the entire way along with their hand on the rope for balance? What is on the side they are coming from? What awaits at their destination? Is their left arm up for balance? Or is it shielding their head from something?

Is what lies beneath actually an ocean? Or is it a view of the world from so high up that clouds obscure land and coastline and inlets?

The painting is dark. It’s frightening. It’s turbulent. And yet it is inspiring in its determination, courage, and grit.

There is tumult and darkness all around. There is a fine line of support through the violence above and below. But the support of that fine line is strong. There are anchors where the line originates and where it ends that I can’t see, but that the figure on the rope knows or trusts are there. Is there someone calling to that figure?

Part of the cloud cover towards the top is white. Is the sun attempting to peek through? The sky is darkest at the horizon – is the sun setting behind us? Or is it rising?

The rope walker is tired. But still going.

They are alone in the painting. But I see them. I feel them. And others do, too.

Who is the figure? Is it my friend? Is it her son? Someone else? 

What will the final mosaic piece show in its texture and reflections? 

May all of us have strong anchors on our own tightropes. May we reach our hands out to others on theirs. May others reach their hands out to us. May we be lifelines. May we have lifelines. May those lines be plentiful and interweave among us to form the strongest, most beautiful fabric.

May we persevere and find our balance and find our strength and know that we are seen, even when we think we’re the only ones in the picture.

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