I still find this painting, Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth, enigmatic…
…though I recently discovered, by accident, a few details regarding its creation.
I now know who Christina was. I now know why she’s on the ground. I didn’t want to know.
Before, whenever I encountered the work, so many questions arose for me:
Why is this woman lying down? Has she fallen? Did she collapse? Is she experiencing a debilitating emotional/spiritual exhaustion?
She longs for the house. It’s so close, yet apparently out of reach for her. It’s both near and distant.
Perhaps, despite her desire, she’s unable to push past some great inner obstacle—spiritual desire must battle an inertia brought on by the accumulated pain of living. But we know she’ll keep struggling to stand.
That’s what I used to think when I saw the painting.
But though my intellectual questions have now been answered, the painting retains its mystery…
It still evokes a deep emotional/spiritual response. An understanding beyond words.
I’m guessing many others have experienced a similar response. I think that’s why this painting has remained so popular.
Christina’s World brings us back to a feeling too long forgotten, too long ignored. In bringing us back, it heightens our sense of reality, our sense of ourselves as spiritual creatures…
Having gone within, we see the world with a slightly different eyes when we return…if only for a few moments.
Isn’t that the type of reaction we try to create through our religious/mythological imagery?
Our culture, at present, comes at us with a constant barrage of images. Our eyes are continually being pulled this way and that…
Unfortunately, the heart often gets left behind.
I’ve seen reproductions of Christina’s World in some very mundane settings, some visually-crowded settings. Yet my heart never gets left behind…
No matter where I encounter the painting, it gives a little shock to my system. It wakes me up.
Our new mythology needs images that can cut through all the visual blare…
So perhaps Christina’s World belongs among the symbols that work to reawaken us to a sense of the spiritual.
(The book in the above photo is Andrew Wyeth: Memory and Magic, edited by Anne Classen Knutson. Recommended.)
© 2013, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry