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Beyond the Frame: An Introduction

It’s easy to walk past a painting in a gallery, but if you stop – even just for a moment – you can hear the painting calling to you, waiting to tell you its story.

But do you stop?

Do you follow the call and look for the story between the brushstrokes?

Hi, You might not know me – I’m a new face around here, well, not the Museum, but the blogs! I want to take you on an adventure to explore the art works in our collection, but I’m getting ahead of myself – I suppose I should introduce myself first, I’m Kyra Duffley! I’ve worked at The Mariners’ Museum and Park for almost 3 years now. I’m a collections-based Digital Content Assistant but the biggest thing to know about me is that I love Art and Art History.

History never made sense to me – it was a jumble of wars, edicts, rulers, and invasions that got all tangled up in my head. I never seemed to be able to get it straight – or care really. That is, until my 8th grade history teacher put Gericault’s The Raft of the Medusa, and Delacroix’s July 28: Lady Liberty Leading the People on the screen.

July 28: Liberty Leading the People. Eugène Delacroix, 1830. Oil On Canvas. Musee du Louvre.
The Raft of the Medusa. Théodore Géricault, 1818-19. Oil On Canvas. Musee du Louvre.

She talked about the connections between the works and what was happening in France at the time these works were painted. The living conditions, unrest, and the riots that continued in the Post-Revolution years into the mid 19th century. This tumultuous time fanned the flames of Romanticism and inspired these artists to create these works and… BAM! For whatever reason I got it. I could finally put that little bit of the timeline together – these works were a pushpin in the timeline of history, bit-by-bit straightening out the jumble and securing it in its place.

Art made things make sense to me, I could see the artistic movements following societal changes, revolutions, and wars. History became this illustrated timeline of artworks and artists, movements and styles. Art History changed me and stuck to me in a way I could never really shake and because of it, I’ve become a little obsessed. I see works of art as people, potential friends, I’ve yet to meet. I’m anxiously hoping to learn their stories and let them whisper their secrets to me. I’m comforted when I’m surrounded by art which is why, the first time I went on a behind the scenes tour with Jeanne and we stepped into the painting storage area… I started crying. Yep, embarrassing, I know.

My coworker, Jennifer, snapped a picture of me smiling after wiping away the tears of happiness. I might look calm but I was entirely overwhelmed.

All I could think was “So many stories! So many new friends to meet! I can’t wait!”

But as the happy tears dried, another wave of emotion began flowing over me – sadness.

And again, in a different light, all I could think was “So many stories… So many new friends that I didn’t know existed… I CAN’T wait”

I was sad because I wanted people to be able to see these works, to get to meet them and know them. And that’s what really started my journey to explore the works in our collection – because y’all…. it’s AMAZING. And I want to share it with you!

Looking at art can be an intimidating experience, but I don’t believe it should be that way. You don’t have to know the context of every piece to be able to appreciate or understand it. You just need time, a little bit of curiosity, and an open mind.

When you use these to look at a piece of art, you can open a myriad of connections – to the artist, to the work, to the subject matter, a point in time, and even… the person beside you. And that’s not some silly “feel good” statement. I believe, truly and wholeheartedly, in the unique, transcendent qualities of art. It has the ability to connect and relate to people of all nations, races, languages, and life stages. So let’s do this, together.

I mentioned at the beginning that I want you to go on an adventure with me. I think we’ll have an amazing time. In this new series, which will be composed of video interpretations and accompanying blogs, we’re going to go into the galleries and behind the scenes to explore our art collection in a way we’ve never done before!

Come with me to discover the stories that lie… Beyond the Frame.

Click the video below to watch the introductory episode, and be sure to follow us on Instagram @marinersmuseum to watch each episode the 1st Friday of each month!

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