Reflected Light

By: Lisa Hoffman, curator of education on February 27th, 2019

It’s winter in Wisconsin. It snows. It’s cold. It’s windy.

Kent Ullberg, Eagle Rock, 1983, bronze

Winter 2019 is record-shattering. Records set throughout more than ninety years for numerous permutations of weather data – one-day, one-month, and annual snowfall totals and low temperatures – are crumbling. As I type, the area is experiencing blizzard conditions.
It’s fascinating to sit inside a warm home with a stable roof, sip tea, and detail the extreme weather. However, conditions can be – and have been – serious and, at times this winter, life-threatening. I wish all experiencing this weather safe travels, warm homes, and reliable and timely snow removal.

I’ve survived my share of Wisconsin winters. To me, what makes this winter unique is the 15.7” of snowfall during one twenty-four-hour period. I’ve seen snowbanks as daunting as the ones currently outside my window, but usually visible are patches of asphalt where plows and tires have worn through the snow and ice. You often can spot a roof shingle or the evergreen tip of an arbor vitae. Not this year. Circumstances yielded a sea of white. Everywhere you look it is white . . . and it is an unexpected gift. Reflected light bathes the environment and dances through windows to fill rooms with a life-affirming glow.

Reflected light – what could be a more apt metaphor for sharing art?

Over the past few days, I witnessed a new Woodson Art Museum visitor, under the age of three, audibly gasp at Gaston Lachaise’s sculpture, Peacocks.

Gaston Lachaise, Peacocks, 1922, bronze

I shared in the unbridled belly laughs of a young boy – who has grown up at the Museum – as he delighted in a hands-on art project. He, his momma, and I laughed the soul-cleansing, untranslatable laugh that brightens everything . . . reflected light. A group of kids, ages five to twelve, decided to veer from the suggested route to the hands-on art classroom and instead travelled through the lower-level gallery because the artwork on view drew them in . . . reflected light. A Valentine’s Day bingo game shared by SPARK! participants cast broad beams of joy to all walking through the galleries . . . reflected light.

Visit the Woodson Art Museum often and experience the reflected light. As you approach, see snow embellish outdoor sculptures and warm up in galleries, experiencing artwork from the Museum’s collection this week and the Cut Up/Cut Out exhibition, opening Saturday, March 2. Woodson Art Museum visits are sure to generate a warm glow amid the snow.

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