Photo Prayer 2022-06 -- Corpse and Mirror II

Even when we have the same thing to look at, you see one thing and I another. You see a brilliant artistic statement that shakes the foundation of accepted creative expression. I see a superior design for fabrics, a design rivaled by — or complemented by — those worn by a woman who stands and stares. I don’t say sublime enchantment is not in the painting, just that I do not see it. What may be there for any fool to see, this fool fails to see, even though my Philistine eyes are open. You see and I am blind. How then shall we dwell in unity, you and I, when you suspect I am mentally deficient and I suspect you of seeing things? Do you see what I am trying to say? Do you see?

Photo of a colorfully-attired woman standing in front of the painting Corpse and Mirror II by Jasper Johns,
Philadelphia Museum of Art, on loan from the Chicago Museum of Art .
Photo and text copyright 2022 by Danny N. Schweers.

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Helen wrote:
My tongue got wrapped around my eye tooth, and I couldn’t see what you are saying. What I do see, and why I like abstracts, is because, if you are willing, it will reshape your present style of thinking. Sometimes you like it; sometimes you don’t. For instance, this painting organizes me. I want to go straighten something up. Others urge me to create and others just don’t make sense. By the way, is the elegant woman in the awesome coat your wife?

Mary wrote:
Hi Danny. Wonderful images and message! John and I are thinking the woman is your wife? Wearing one of her lovely textile creations from head to toe?

Hugh wrote:
Amazing! I think that Jasper would be impressed.

Tom wrote:
Brilliant and beautiful, Danny!

Lynn wrote:
"How then shall we dwell in unity, you and I, when you suspect I am mentally deficient and I suspect you of seeing things?" How indeed? That seems to summarize the situation throughout our nation now. People look at the same set of facts and see totally different things.

Ken wrote:
Danny, loved the photo and can sympathize with the prayer to a degree. But what about when they're just wrong!? But I loved the photo.

The author replied: Thanks for your comments!
Yes, that is my wife, standing where I asked her to stand, patiently waiting while I diddled with my camera to get the right exposure. The coat is a recent gift to her from a friend cleaning out an attic; a coat too large for the friend to wear; a coat that belonged to the friend’s mother who had grown up dirt poor in Costa Rica and bought expensive clothes like this alpaca coat even though it was too large for her size two. The scarf is a Christmas present from me, a painted scarf she had seen during the summer and loved. The hat came from a small local art gallery years ago. There is no story to go with the shoes. Perhaps I should make one up!
Lynn, so perceptive, caught on to the subtext. Differences of perception go way beyond art controversies; for that matter, way beyond politics.
As Ken points out, the difficulty is when we as individuals and as a society cannot tolerate differences, when someone is just wrong, or doing wrong. In that case we make laws, create courts, build jails and prisons and, internationally, go to war.
Vincent Punch, a museum security guard at the Whitney Museum in New York City, often photographs people whose clothes mimic art. You can see his work on Instagram. Search for @vinpunch163 or Vincent Punch.

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