Taking note: Mysterious treasures
The glint of bright orange shining through the glass of the frame immediately caught my eye. I couldn’t help but investigate what this partially hidden treasure might be.
I gently moved the several framed images that stood in front of it on a low, dusty shelf of a local secondhand shop.
When I saw the image as a whole, I was astonished.
It was a photograph, entirely in shades of yellow, orange and red.
The image itself almost defied description or categorization.
A tall, serpentine shape, reminiscent of a ribbon, a piece of suede — or perhaps a thin, curving wall — dominates the image.
The bright white line that makes up the top edge of this shape flows through the image, bordering a softly focused background that suggests trees or grass to this viewer. It leads the eyes from the top left corner to where it terminates at the bottom right corner.
The place or item photographed is a total mystery.
I’m utterly entranced. And I know I have to take it home.
Ever since I brought it home, I’ve remained captivated by the mysterious beauty of the image.
It’s a subject of debate and introspection, perhaps just as the photographer intended it.
I try to see it a little differently each time I look at it.
I try to imagine when, where, why and how it was created.
I try to shift my perspective and see if that might solve the mystery.
Just as I suspected — and perhaps just as the photographer planned — the beautiful ambiguity of the image has challenged me and engaged me, time and time again.
Art of all types can lead to imaginative reflection.
But for me, this is especially true of abstract, mysterious pieces.
They ask you to go beyond your day-to-day approach to perceiving and understanding the world.
They invite you to step into the artist’s shoes.
They encourage you to seek out answers that are often unknowable.
They challenge you to understand — or live with –mystery and ambiguity.
They show you that beauty doesn’t always have to make perfect sense.
They can change the way we perceive and observe things, great and small.
They can open our minds to new possibilities and ways of thinking, artistic and otherwise.
It’s a beautiful thing when we encounter a piece of art that speaks to us, challenges us and awakens us.
I think this is why I always find myself compelled to look for unique art to “rescue” from secondhand shops.
I never know what I’ll find, but it’s almost always something meaningful, mysterious, and seemingly meant just for me at that moment in my life.
As I examine my walls, I see many examples of these treasured pieces.
A collection of seashells, beach grasses, starfish and other ocean treasures arranged in a small shadowbox;
A framed, hand-painted feather;
A breathtaking triptych of the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse as viewed from McCarty’s Cove, with each photo depicting the scene during a different season;
And a beautifully framed and matted photo that seems like it was taken by a person laying on the ground in the center of Stonehenge.
The exact stories behind these pieces of art remain a mystery to me.
But there is something special about the hunt for the unknown, the thrilling surprise of finding something beautiful that seems meant just for you.
And I think we can apply this type of thinking to not only art but to our lives.
When we seek out beauty and accept uncertainty in our day-to-day lives, we can find ourselves exploring new ways of thinking, perceiving and behaving in the world.
We can find more joy, we can become more comfortable with the unknown.
We can try our best to understand our world while recognizing that we may not get the concrete answers we seek.
We can try to appreciate each and every little moment, even if it might seem insignificant at the time.
And when we do this, we can enhance our ability to navigate difficult situations.
We can learn to approach our lives with more love, compassion and understanding in the face of uncertainty.
We can open our eyes and recognize that mystery is part of what makes life and art so beautiful.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Cecilia Brown is city editor at The Mining Journal. She lives in Marquette and can be found hiking if the weather’s nice, or curled up with a book if not. Contact her at email@example.com.