For as long as I live I will never forget the moment I walked into the Grande Galerie of the Louvre museum in Paris, France.
There was a palpable energy in the air of that magnificent place. It was alive and electric, a hum that seemed to reverberate through the palatial halls. I felt it course through me, from my fingertips to my sneaker-clad toes. Maybe it was the rich history found within the paint and the brush strokes on those canvases that gave tangibility to the energy in the air. Maybe it came from being surrounded by works of art that emanated absolute creative brilliance. Or maybe the energy was originating from one lone masterpiece--mysteriously beautiful and luminescent, shielded behind panes of glass, guarded by several middle aged men in navy blazers—Leonardo Da Vinci's, "Mona Lisa."
The Mona Lisa is quite lovely in person. In fact, she took my breath away. She made the hairs on my arms stand on end. The sight of her made me want to cry, I was so moved. I stood before her in that crowded, vibrant gallery--barely moving, barely breathing--and let the awe I felt wash over me. It was incredible.
I love art and have always enjoyed art history. My interest increased after visiting several museums across Europe and especially after seeing Da Vinci's extraordinary work. I took art history courses while attending Utah State University. I read art books, journals, and periodicals while working on campus in the Serials department of the library. I attended art shows whenever I could. I purchased prints and framed them. I tried to surround myself with art.
Now, years and years later, I am surrounded by a “different kind of art.” Prints of famous artwork that used to adorn my refrigerator have now been replaced by "paint with water" pages and construction paper preschool crafts. Elementary school projects are stacked in piles on my kitchen counter and crammed into the “junk drawer” by my pantry. These works came to fruition at the hands of budding young artists who I am particularly fond of. They work primarily in crayon and Crayola markers. They favor colored pencils and Elmer’s glue. They are notably talented, despite their lack of experience or education. The potential is there. I can see the potential for greatness all around me.
These artists are my crazy (but not like Van Gogh) children! And they are slowly and methodically turning my home into a gallery!
One day, as I stood amidst all the paper and all the clutter, an idea sparked: Save one or two of your favorites from each year in school. Take pictures of the rest that are particularly sweet…and then toss them.
Toss them?! What a liberating idea from a woman who has a tendency to save every. single. thing.
But those arts and crafts would not be lost! Because I would have photos of them that I could then print out and put in an album. An art album. An art album (for each child) that could live in all it’s organized glory on a shelf in my book case, occupying precious, minimal space. It’s a genius idea, mamas!
And one that even Mona Lisa could smile about.