Three women got in their cars and went to see art.
They set off from about as different parts of America as you could get, each with different reasons, and ending up in places different than where they came from. No one made them do it, but there was something inside them that drove them to seek, to adventure, to experience.
I’ve always felt somewhat guilty about my travels to view art, that they were nothing more than a selfish endeavor, especially in a time when people are almost afraid to admit something is beautiful, let alone journey to see it. But I think these writers would say that the act of perusal was just as important as the art, that now they can’t separate the art from their quest.
So often we talk about art in grandiose terms, often full of judgment and superiority. You can walk into any museum and read a sign explaining what the art on the wall means. But the meaning is always evolving for the individual. It takes on the stories of everyone who has seen it, like a secret club that anyone who views it knows the password and can let others in. Art made by someone five years or thousands of years ago can still connect with the viewer and be seen anew. There’s just something different about seeing something on a screen than sharing a space with it, that is worth going to see beyond just an Instagram post. Art is the story of humanity, and the act of seeing it is a conformation of one’s own humanity, that we are part of all of this too.
These women reminded us that art has the power literally to move people—a chance Google search led to a nearly 600-mile drive to see mosaics, Georgia O’Keeffe’s home beckoned for a 15-hour drive across the American Southwest, and the dream of visiting Harper Lee’s world led to reconnecting with a grandmother—all in the pursuit of beauty.