I’ve been following the Caravaggio discovery in France with great interest and considering parallels for themes showing up in my life as well. For those of you who don’t know, Caravaggio was an Italian painter in the late 1500’s / early 1600’s. Though his lifestyle was enough to be hated by society during his day, nothing drew more disdain than his paintings. Their brutal realism was too much to handle. While it gained him great notoriety, it was short lived and he was quickly forgotten until a temporary revival of interest in his work in the 1950’s.
The story goes that a family discovered a dusty painting tucked away in their attic and to make a long story (that you can Google) short, there is now a great debate whether or not this is a work of Caravaggio or one of the many imitators of his day or even quite possibly, the 1950’s. If the painting is authentic, it is estimated to be worth around $136 million.
I think about how this parallels in life. How a precious piece of art can quietly reside hidden away in a house full of life and human senses to appreciate it; yet, it goes undiscovered. In our human endeavors, often our special skills and talents go unappreciated in our own family, our own hometown because these people have mapped out their own expectations and beliefs about how our lives should be played out often marred in their own fears and limited beliefs. So, we are hidden away covered in dust in the attic until either someone comes along who can appreciate our beauty (or wish to exploit it because they need money).
We will encounter those who appreciate us — our beauty, our skill-set, our talents, our brand of genius, and in some cases, our brand of crazy. Then, we also encounter others always quick to doubt or hate or question anything good, especially when it happens to others. They start spewing out words like “fake” or “imitator.” They try using their big words to justify their position; their letters after their names to validate it; their experience to justify it.
But we are art in a world full of people who think they are artists. It is not our place to be everything to everyone. It is not our place to respond to critics and haters and doubters. We share our message in galleries of people; whether they come to investigate us or adore us or hate us. It doesn’t change us. In an attic or in a gallery, we are art. When we are adored, admired, questioned, hated, investigated, or imitated (especially imitated), we are art.