Quite Literally Blown Away

For those that don’t know me well or haven’t talked to me recently, I should start this by informing you that I recently returned from my 5th year studio field trip to Chicago. (It was really windy there, by the way. I wish someone had warned me; they should really pop a label on there or something for the windiness of this city). Now that you know that, you must really not know me if you didn’t think I was going to bolt straight for the Art Institute the second I got a chance. And you must be completely clueless if you didn’t think I spent an excessive amount of time staring at Greek pottery and statues. 

But aside from what you don’t know, I would really like someone to explain to me how I didn’t know about a very particular statue housed in the institute. I’ve seen plenty of statues of satyrs playing around and having the time of their lives, but this one iced every cake in that whole city for me.

The Statue of a Young Satyr Wearing a Theater mask of Silenos. Why yes, it is a mouthful. But oh my gosh I LOVE IT. There is something about this hunk of marble that ignited such a pure and childlike joy inside of me. I mean, how could it not?? Despite being made hundreds of years ago, there was something so nostalgic about this young satyr engaging in childlike play. Whether it was playing pretend, or dress-up, or hide and seek, we have all played like this before. Though many of us are not half goat, all of us are (as far as I’m aware) at least half human. This statue is just that! It feels so incredibly human.

I find that through the study of history and events as a whole we forget that humanity has always been people. The portraits and photographs we see from generations before depict such a serious facade that it’s so easy to forget that people always have, and always will, find a way to laugh and have fun and connect. One of my favorite pieces of studying art history is finding these little nuggets of such pure humanity scattered around the wreckage of old rich people who had nothing else to do but sit for a painting that probably doesn’t even look like them at the end of the day anyway.

I don’t even need to see the actual face of this satyr to know exactly what he looks like. Through the mask you can picture a wild and playful grin; if you try hard enough I feel like you can even hear the laughing! Truly, aside from the initial phase of “what is that and why have I never seen it before?”, this little satyr did exactly what art is meant to do. It incited a deeply human emotion from me, and brought about memories and experiences that I hadn’t thought of in a very long time. If any of my elementary friends see this, call me. We gotta get the old gang back together on the playground and play pretend again.

I have so many things to say about Chicago and the Institute, but for some reason this hit home so hard for me I had to give him his own little moment to shine. I will leave you all in aching suspense for my other pictures and dive way too deep into things that were probably created with no such intent in mind until next time.

(Although, I never am short on opinions. Overall, deep dish? So much better than I thought. Walking 10 miles a day in a city known for its cold weather? Not recommended. The weird knowledge I now have of Wrigley Gum and their impact on Chicago’s architecture? Priceless. And lastly, getting to trash Anish Kapoor right in front of the bean? Best part of the trip)

All body images are from yours truly!

Header : https://www.architecture.org/learn/resources/buildings-of-chicago/building/art-institute-of-chicago/

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