Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bliss - White Hydrangeas

White Hydrangeas
Oil on Canvas

One of my best experiences in college was having Ivana Spalatin as my art instructor. Ivana taught Art History 101, Modern Art and Expressionism, and a number of other related courses at Texas A&M University. She had a passion for art that was genuine and contagious.

Ivana bicycled every day to class from her tiny house on campus, which was filled with the artistic creations of students. In her house, she had painted in script across her lintel the words: "Follow Your Bliss...Joseph Campbell".

In one of her previous university posts, while describing one of the masterworks to her students in class one day, she was brought to tears. For this indiscretion, the board of regents at the school fired her, stating she was "making love to the art."

I will never forget the day I returned to class a week after my father died, sitting down in a desk in Ivana's classroom. My father had committed suicide on February 17, six days after my birthday. When Ivana saw me walk into class, she stopped talking and put down the book she was holding. She walked straight to me, fell to her knees, and threw her arms around me.

This time of year, my mind goes back to Ivana and a time that was so dark. It was also a time when I learned I was surrounded by an amazing amount of love and compassion. What an honor to have been taught by a master like Ivana, who lived the artistic life.

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