I stood in the hospital hallway admiring a row of paintings which lined the walls. They were a series of Wisconsin landscapes brightening up an otherwise drab hospital corridor. I was there waiting, along with two family members, for the nursing staff to complete an exam of a loved one in a nearby room. “There’s some affirmative action going on with this art,” said my father-in-law.
“What do you mean?” I asked, perplexed. The paintings were landscapes. I glanced more closely at the artist’s name. It was generic enough it didn’t accurately reveal an ethnicity.
“Down in the lobby,” he said. “The only painting with a blue ribbon next to it is of a portrait of black person.”
Later, on my way out of the building, I made a point of checking out the art in the lobby. As I surveyed the paintings, I saw four award-winning pieces, not just one. One of the paintings, a portrait of a black woman did have a blue ribbon hanging next to it, but then, so did a portrait of a white woman. This ribbon was blue AND gold which indicated it had been awarded the highest level of recognition. In fact, three of the four paintings depicted white people and they had all been awarded a ribbon.
What I saw, besides accounting for the four pieces of art, their subjects, and number of ribbons, was a series of talented efforts representing different styles and techniques. I was impressed by the artists’ ability to capture facial expressions through brush strokes. No slight feat in my estimation.
The Fine Art of Perspective
Perspective is fascinating and curious. It is what allows an 80-year old man and a 48-year old woman to have completely different experiences of art hanging in a hospital lobby.
How to establish perspective is one of the fundamentals taught in art class. Depth is created by determining where the horizon will be located or where will be the vanishing point. The scene is further set as elements in foreground are drawn larger and painted with greater accuracy. Objects set in the distance are smaller and painted in less detail. The artist consciously frames what the viewer will see when he or she encounters the final painting.
The same is true for us. We are the artist and we set the scene for our own lives. Depth is created when we are willing to bring curiosity instead of judgment to a situation. It is deepened when we are willing to acknowledge another point of view and thereby expand our horizons.
Perspective is further shaped by our experiences and how we choose to interpret them, which becomes the frame. Our beliefs and attitudes, behaviors, feelings, choices, values, and decisions set the scene. These are the elements which determine what objects will fill our foreground. Will we choose to “paint” elements like love, gratitude, appreciation, equality, respect, abundance, and possibility in greater detail? Or will we choose to place fear, anger, and scarcity in the forefront? Perspective is rooted in choice.
It is easy to paint the world in broad strokes of liberals and conservatives, of good and bad, of generosity versus greed, or equality versus affirmative action, and so on. I know, because I too, find myself painting the world in such a manner. Yet, when I allow myself to stop and consider how I am seeing a particular situation, I am more likely to bring other balancing elements into the frame as well. My perspective paints the world I see. I can choose to set a scene that allows for an array of beauty and complexity, or I can choose to paint the world I see in broad, flat strokes. It’s a fine art.
What’s Your Perspective?
How is the artist of your soul framing your perspective on (insert topic)?
How do your experiences, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, values, feelings, choices, and decisions influence how you view (insert topic)?
What is another way to view this?
If you would like to explore what beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, feelings, choices, values, and decisions are shaping your perspective, I will be happy to be your thought-partner in this exploration.
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