Thursday, January 5, 2012

Life Curation

I made a trip over to Bed Bath and Beyond the other day, and since I was right across the street from the American Art Museum I popped over for an hour to view some of my favorite works. Living in a city filled with free museums has its perks - why not get a little culture with your shower curtain? I'm particularly fond of the emerald toned works of Thomas Wilmer Dewing, whose paintings feature women in the midst of activity - often writing or playing an instrument.

The little plaque in Dewing's corner of the gallery explained that he was quite an interesting fellow. A regular at the Cornish Art Colony in Cornish, New Hampshire, Dewing took his aestheticism seriously. Not only was he very particular about the way he dressed, framed his paintings, and lived his life, but when he had visitors he insisted on selecting their outfits for them too. He then planned beautiful picnics which, apparently, were so exquisite it was as if he'd brought one of his lush paintings to life.

While the whole dressing your guests thing may be a bit extreme, I can't help but admire Dewing's philosophy, and the idea of curating one's life is intriguing. If life is ours to curate, then life is really our own little collection of things and experiences. We get to choose what items and experiences to include in our collection, and and what to exclude. It's up to us how we choose to frame - both literally and figuratively - the things and experiences in our collection... what we will display to others... how we care for the things in our collection... I think there's a sense of power that comes from viewing life that way. Or, maybe I just like a good metaphor.

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