Gaela Erwin’s current show is a group of powerful pastel paintings titled, My Mother, My Sister, Myself, at the Lexington Art League. My article about her work is in the current issue of Aeqai. To read it, please click here.
The show is up through March 3.
The images can be enlarged with a click–and then enlarged further to see surface detail if you click the “full screen” icon in the bottom right of the photo.
How easily thinkers and scribblers (of the text-based variety) forget about the inescapable union of body and mind. Even the use of the two words is misleading, tempting us into thinking of ourselves as split into higher and lower faculties, even into two separable parts. This ancient customary division must always be resisted, even denied. If there is a duality, it is between the whole and the part: the brain is part of the body.
Learning is physical. Our ability to abstract mesmerizes us, in part because it is a major part of our success as a species. But we idealize it, and forget that we cannot think at our best without sustenance, rest, and–most important–feeling. I think of this in part because I teach people to draw and paint, an act that requires many things from our body simultaneously: intense analytic concentration, synthetic visual imagination, and manual dexterity, all animated by desire. The principles of the art are learned by doing. There is no other way: no separation of the intellectual from the physical, of the conceptual from the craft, of the aristocrat from the serf, of the manager from the worker.
Learning is embodied in the classroom, in conversation, in demonstration, imitation, and presentation. Learning is what we do, as a species. Other species do it, too, but we believe we do it best. It is possible to do it away from others, but not consistently, and not so well, especially for the young.
The physical presence of the teacher is critical. While not a constant necessity, it is so usual, so human, that some forget to acknowledge it–and then, forgetting, go on to make silly assertions about the death of the classroom. Louis Betty, in a recent article, wrote an excellent rebuttal to those who prophesy The End of the University.
Just for fun, here are some classrooms: