A Day in the Life, December 11, 2013 Boston

Boston, image imported from Evolvernetwork.org
 I have not written much lately about the things I do, living here. I do live in a beautiful city, Boston is so easily accessed and there are so many things to do. Here is a snapshot of my Wednesday.

Did you know I work as a teacher? My job involves working with high school aged students with intensive multiple disabilities. This means they are nonverbal, they have a limited effective communication systems, they have cognitive and physical challenges. A typical day includes working on functional curriculum, vocational tasks, and self help skills. I have three aides working with me to support the students as they access the many teachable moments in the schedule. I am lucky to live on the same block as my job, so my commute to work is about four minutes.

Without going into details, suffice it to say that yesterday was a challenging and rigorous one. At the end of our routines, I was feeling exhausted and more than a little discouraged. Despite the fact that I longed to just stay home and watch podcasts while I knit, I pushed myself out the door and on my way to a professional development opportunity at the MFA, The Museum of Fine Arts.
Museum of Fine Arts, image imported from news.coinupdate.com
In Boston, and New England, we have many terms to describe the weather. I believe that we have a plethora of words to describe winter. Brisk, chilly, blustery or bracing, all indicate the nuances of wind, temperature and general atmosphere. Bracing would be the descriptor I would choose for this evening, the air was a bit damp, the wind was light but the temperature had me nestling into my knitwear as I walked the 3/4 mile to the train.

A map of the T, image imported from metromap.blogspot.com
Here, we call our public transportation the "T", short for MBTA, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. There are convenient ways to get around our fine city via the bus, train and water shuttle services. My preferred method is the train. For two dollars, you can travel across town, avoiding the hassle of driving and the expense of parking. An added attraction is the crowd of humanity, I enjoy the people watching as I head to my destination.

The train was full, people were reading real books, or electronic versions on their tablets, many were looking at their phones, texting or playing games. A few passengers were engaged, as I was, in watching the scenery of people at the end of a work day.  My eye is often taken by the fashions I see sported, or in the case of this trip, a hat. The woman wearing this intriguing hat was seated directly opposite me. This made for awkward reconnaissance, how was it constructed, what was that stitch pattern, was is hand made? I was not able to scope out many details until we exited the train, and even then, my efforts fell short. Oh how I wanted to snap a photo to study and possibly use to reverse engineer my observations into a pattern. Thwarted.

Arrival at Huntington Ave. The Museum of Fine Arts. What a place! As a former Art History undergrad, it just makes me feel blissful to walk through the maze of halls and galleries, seeking out old favorites or new treasures, but this evening I was attending a teacher workshop. I anticipated new bliss ahead.

One thing that induces bliss is the ability to collect images that I can come back to again and again. Like Pinterest in some ways, the teacher site allows one to create and visual lesson. The MFA has a very cool tool on its website that allows one to create a multi-sensory array using artifacts from the collections. If the creation of a lesson plan intimidates you, there are existing plans that you can utilize. During the professional development lecture, we saw slides of pages from ancient Qu'rans, listened a thumbnail description of the history of the people who created and worshiped with these beautiful books. Later we toured the gallery of Sacred Pages. There is a brief description of the artifacts here.

Sacred Pages, an exhibition of various Qu'ran documents, some dating back to the 8th century. (If you click on the Sacred Pages link, there are recordings to listen to, the speakers give their reaction to the exhibit and some of the pieces on display. This exhibit is on display until February 2014. While I was unable to read or discern meaning from these artifacts, the sheer joy of observing the lettering and the intricate detail lent a sense of devotion.
This script is read from right to left. The red marks were added later to indicate vowel sounds.

The calligraphy dances across the page.

The calligraphy here seems more stylized. The rosette indicates the end of a passage.

The gold letters indicate the name Mohammed, rosettes mark end of passages.

In the background hangs a weaving done in 2003 by Hoshi Mitsue. The bamboo sculpture named Fire is by Fujitsuka Shosei.

Huge, hand stitched quilt, made of various cotton fabrics from Japan. The detail of stitching is stunning.

Amida, the Buddha of Infinite Light, 12th century Japan
Arno Rafael Minkkenen, 1998
I include these images because of the many things I looked at, these resonated with me. Inspiration is a woven panel, dyed using natural elements. I enjoyed seeing the intricate and even weaving and coloration. "Fire" is a bamboo sculpture, created in 2011. The quilt was one of six, I did not record the artist's name, but the work was impressive in its scale and attention to detail. The subtle flow of dark colors was beautiful, as was the tiny hand sewn stitches.

The Buddha collection at the MFA is extensive, there are so many versions of the serene and meditative form, but this one was a new discovery. The Amida sculpture is carved on wood and is situated in a darkened room embellished with Japanese architectural elements. There are a number of other full sized Buddhas on display in the space, but this one exuded peace, calm, serenity. It was like being in church, the atmosphere of reverence was palpable. I want to bottle up that sensation and csrry it with me to access in times of stress and confusion.

The final photograph by Minkkenen is eery, and by the comments on my Instagram, creepy to some. I did not feel it was macabre; I love birch trees and the slender elegance of the trunks are echoed in the limbs they encase. I wondered at the concept, composition, and the artist's intended message.

After wandering the galleries for a few hours, my legs began to pine for the comforts of home, so headed back to the Green line and caught my ride home. As I made my way back to Cgarlestown, I watched the comments on my Instagram feed and felt like I had brought some of my friends along on my journey through the collections. I hope they feel inspired to visit a gallery sometime soon. There is such restorative powers to viewing, reflecting and quietly absorbing the rich history of art created by others.

Please leave me a comment and let me know if this post was enjoyable, or, would you prefer I stick to fiber-y pastimes? Also, please share if there is a museum or gallery that you visit to restore your creative energies.

Good night.


Anonymous said…
As a misplaced Boston girl (living in PA), I loved it! Thank you!
Rebecca Ward said…
This is the first time I have visited and I really enjoyed this post, the calligraphy writing is very beautiful, it does dance, it also reminds me of music flowing across the page, Boston US is probably a place I will not visit so really lovely to see what it is like to live there, I love going to museums and gallerys, really enjoyed this :)
Carol said…
I really enjoyed this post! Just last week, I visited the Met in NYC (my hometown) after a few years' absence and what a joy it was. One of my favorite galleries there is the Islamic Art - recently reopened after an extensive renovation. So beautiful - saw handwritten Qu'rans as you did. What a treasure museums are. A few hours of such beauty can restore your soul.
Carol said…
I lived in Boston for many years and always enjoy your posts about it and your pictures. Boston is such an interesting city!

Carolyn said…
I'm another misplaced Boston girl, now living in Utah.
I loved the comment about the damp chilly air.
This post brought back pleasant memories of the many times I rode the Green Line (I went to Northeastern Univ,) and visited the Museum .
elns said…
Oh I really enjoyed your post! Knitters have lives with their own texture beyond the stitches they knit. I really liked how you tied in your stressful and challenging day to your gallery visit and social media. You made it come full circle. I understand too now how you do such lovely projects you are woman of patience -- a teacher! All the best in the new year. Stay warm!

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