Because two of my three older siblings went to and graduated from Loyola College, I have visited Baltimore more times than I can count, starting at age seven, to now, living here and attending the very same university. With each visit to Baltimore, my family and I have done the usual tourist attractions from the arcade games at ESPN Zone to dinners at the Cheesecake Factory, to the infinite visits to the Baltimore Aquarium (my Mom’s favorite). By age fourteen, I was pretty much convinced I had seen all there was to see in the city of Baltimore, however, now that I am actually living in this city day in and day out, with each new venture, I am realizing just how much of the city I truly do not know and have yet to see.
Last Thursday a friend and I decided to check out the American Visionary Art Museum in Federal Hill to try and find some inspiration for an art project because when it comes to art and creativity, I could use all the help I can get. We had heard great things about this museum and neither of us had ever been to it.
Before even entering the actual museum, there was immediately so much to look at outside the building. The immense mosaics on the walls leading up the entrance doors were amazingly intricate and sparkled in the sunlight. As we walked through each floor of the museum, each piece of artwork was as interesting as the next. The theme of the current exhibition is “All Faiths Beautiful” with the phrase, “God is Love” being emphasized throughout. I could not believe that on this simple visit to a museum for inspiration, I was automatically being exposed to Jesuit ideals unintentionally. This truly showed me that these Jesuit values are so prominent in our lives; you just need to keep your eyes open and you will see them. The theme, “All Faiths Beautiful” is truly a Jesuit concept in that we must welcome other religions, whether we agree with them or not, with open arms because we are all human beings and share the same concept that “God is love.” Almost every exhibit pertained to the love of God, as well as many to Jesus Christ. The art piece that I remembered most vividly from my visit was an immense bronze angel figure hanging and slowly spinning from the ceiling in between the open staircase with gigantic wings made up of a beautifully colorful mosaic of colored glass. The larger than life vision was absolutely breathtaking.
Even within the mission statement of this museum it states that visionary art, “refers to art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself." After reading this statement, I realized it perfectly described the artwork throughout the museum; I kept telling my friend I felt like children could have composed some of the artwork, meaning anyone could have done it, which is why it becomes so inspiring. Like I mentioned, I am not naturally gifted in the areas of art and creativity, but visiting this museum has taught me that if you simply look inside yourself you can do or create anything. Again, I believe this concept relates back to the Jesuit ideals we are taught here at Loyola, that we are each capable of anything, whatever our personal vocation may be.
It’s funny, before being given assignments such as these blogs, I probably would have simply visited the American Visionary Arts Museum, found it interesting, and not thought twice about it. However, now that I have the chance to reflect upon my experience, I realize that upon merely visiting an art museum in Baltimore, I have been able to connect my faith, my college life and teachings, the city of Baltimore, and the essence of art all to each other so clearly. Because of assignments such as these, I realize that I do not take seriously enough my surroundings and experiences, because once I do, I truly learn a lot about myself.