In Downtown Glendale, where I work, there is a sculpture that I see almost everyday. Some days it kind of blends into the background. Some days, the dark contrasts are absorbed by an overcast SoCal sky, but some days, most days actually, it stands there in the lawn of the Glendale Public Library and tells me a story.
Now, I’m no exemplar of art scholarship or even interpretation, but this work moves me. The title of the piece, commissioned from artist Natalie Krol, is “Me Too.”
When you look at “Me Too,” the first thing you see is an embrace. What a profound symbol! A community is defined by its capacity for embrace. Too often, when we talk about community…or any community for that matter…we usually end up sharing the ways that we have been hurt by exclusion.
Why? Because each of us longs for inclusion. Our deepest desire is to be embraced.
One of the beautiful gifts art gives us is it usually always embraces our perspective. The artist may have had one thing in mind when she created it, but you as the viewer bring new meaning to it when you see it. It’s prismatic and mysterious that way. When I look at this sculpture, a variety of scenarios take shape in my imagination.
Sometimes I see a father hugging his daughter. His toughness melts, as do the stresses of the day, in the too short reach of her grappling arms. As his heart melts a little and a tender smile spreads across his face, it creates a warm and safe space in the home. His wife walks over and says, “me, too?”
Or perhaps, a mother and her daughter are holding one another, waiting for the terminal door to open, anxiously hoping to be first one to see him as he arrives home from Afghanistan. Eyes wide open, he walks into their line of sight. He runs to them as they get to their feet. “Me, too?”
Then, maybe this is a moment where a young couple stand in the library lawn, watching his neighbors’ son roll around in the grass, pretending the Goodnight Moon he just borrowed is a space ship. Suddenly he looks up and see that the young man and woman are close together. He knows what his job is. Forgetting his book behind him, he runs…”me, too!”
When I asked Natalie Krol, the artist, about the piece, she related, “When I decided to create the imagery the uppermost thought in my mind was to express the love that is shared with family members. I decided to leave the figures faceless to represent all of humanity.”
All of humanity.
That’s alot of embrace.
Glendale is an impressively diverse community. We have it all, so to speak, and Krol’s sculpture is an appropriately placed reminder of that fact. Kristin Hunter wrote, “First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms.”
Remember, the next time you are at the downtown library, stop and enter into the story of the art. And also, remember the next time you pull somebody close that someone else may be quietlythinking, “Me, too.”
Chris Harrison is pastor @glenpres church and blogs at http:// prophetsandpopstars.com . Most days you can find him venturing back and forth from the Starbucks in Frog Alley (He has a gold card, you know).
Check out Natalie Krols website!