Ok, completely dorky post title, but I hope at least some people out there have seen one of my favorite childhood movies, Muppets Take Manhattan.  It seemed appropriate on many levels…I got to see my first Broadway show this week (Billy Elliot, based on the movie and great); I met up with our own SophMom and got to meet her Eph; and I saw two dear friends from Williams.  Quite the art-y and Eph-y weekend over all.

All of that really made me think about the new experiences and the breadth of experiences I’ve had as a result of Williams or people I’ve met through Williams.  Particularly this week I’m thinking in terms of the arts.  What follows is my meditation on all of that, so if you’re looking for news and not personal stories, thanks for reading this far and catch ya later!  For those who, for some reason, seem to enjoy my musings on why Williams is so fabulous and how it impacted my life, read on!

I had some exposure to art/music as a kid, but mostly in the form of the occasional field trip with school and weekly piano lessons for awhile.  Growing up in Portland in the 80s, there weren’t as many opportunities either.  It wasn’t nearly so trendy and hip back then, and just smaller overall (not to mention we didn’t have much disposable income).   So I saw the symphony every few years, and there was this cool program called “Young Audiences” that brought performers once each year (or so) to schools.

But at Williams, I had the good fortune to work for the art history department showing slides, so I learned bits and pieces about art that way (what I could hear over the projectors…truly the best work study job I could have had).  I got to go to WCMA and the Clark, and eventually Mass MoCA.  I went to watch friends in student symphony and theater.  Basically, Williams just made it really, really easy to appreciate art in a new way.  All of that isn’t totally unique to Williams, as lots of schools have great art, but I think the small community and the tradition of art and art history being an integral part of the school made it easier.  The number of students taking intro art history is pretty amazing – and I don’t think typical compared to other places.  Go Art Mafia!!

I also met some great folks that brought me along on their adventures – going home with a friend for Thanksgiving one year, we went to the MFA in Boston for a Monet exhibit; I visited a friend in New York and went to the Met for the first time.  I have friends that are tremendous artists themselves who introduced me to bits of architecture, sculpture, and photography.  I still remember sitting in my common room in Mission as a sophomore having two friends draw me for class (one drew my eye the other my mouth…a little weird, but fun).  In his list of ways you know you went to Williams, Will mentioned:

… you know that everyone around you is very accomplished, even if no one talks about their accomplishments.

So very true as many have noted.  That subtle sharing of talents and passions for me increased exponentially my appreciation for and exposure to art.  I think most people are more likely to try something new if a friend is encouraging you along the way or inviting you to participate.

So now to the insipration for this post…SophMom and I were both in New York City last week (don’t be jealous…though I know I’m terribly lucky to get to meet her IRL), and through one of her old friends, we  got to watch the Martha Graham Dance Company rehearse.  This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Seeing any professional perform at the height of ability is amazing – getting to see it from a few feet away in a tiny rehearsal space at Julliard is that much more special.  I took a few dance classes at Williams (gotta love the PE requirement), and I am now more convinced than ever that I’m terrible…but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

I spent Thursday at MoMA, where they have a Sol LeWitt installation on view until June, including his instructions on how to put the installation together.  [BTW, there is a big Sol LeWitt exhibit at Mass MoCA right now in collaboration with WCMA and the Yale Museum.]  Without my time at Williams – and SophMom’s lovely tributes to Kirk Varnedoe ’67 last month on EphBlog – I wouldn’t have appreciated it nearly as much. [Note to EB tech geniuses: I did an archives search for the series, and formatting is a weird mess when you access the search – I think due to blockquoting, the pulled entries are educed to vertical lines of letters about 20% down the page]

Without that, I also wouldn’t have gotten the thrill at seeing descriptions on works at MoMA given by Varnedoe (I think, that or in honor of him…) – regardless, I never would have known who he was.  To sum up my trip, Friday was a day at the Met, perhaps my favorite classic style museum.  I love getting lost amongst the maze of galleries and halls, finding the little mezzanines and sculpture halls.  It was a treat.

So thanks to Williams by helping my cultural education and thanks to EphBlog for introducing me to the lovely musings from SophMom and others on art, the holy trinity of the Williams Art Mafia, and its disciples.  I’m sure SM will chime in with her own impressions of our lovely opportunity in New York.

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