Looks like an ordinary house, right?
Still an ordinary house with a big field in front. Until... you place a critical piece in the foreground.
And there you have it, one of the most iconic American paintings, Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World," painted in 1948.
The house still stands on a quiet country road in Cushing, Maine, now a part of the Farnsworth Art Museum's offerings. It was closed for tours last Tuesday when daughter Elizabeth, grandchildren and I drove the hour and forty-five minutes from Portland to be in that space.
Personally, I know little about Andrew Wyeth, often confusing him with the other Wyeth family painters, but Elizabeth (art major in college) is educating me. When we visited the MoMA a few years ago, it was the original Christina's World that she particularly wanted to see. She bought a copy, had it framed and it now hangs in their bedroom.
What I do know, though, and have personally experienced many times as a writer, is the magnetic pull that a place of creative energy holds. How many times have I visited sites such as Walden Pond, Ralph Waldo Emerson's study and Emily Dickinson's bedroom? At each place, I stand in silence, imagining what it must have been like. To be that person, to be creating in that very moment.
So when Elizabeth sat in the field - close to where Wyeth positioned Christina in the painting, where he turned an ordinary scene into a masterpiece - I understood. She asked us to remain silent while she videoed the scene and recorded the sound.
I couldn't resist but eavesdrop with my own photo, capturing her... as she lived the moment.
(And, no, the photo was not staged.)