The piece above is entitled Children in a Garden (The Nurse). As we were meandering through the rooms of art, Jordan stopped at this one and said, "This reminds me of you." I looked at the woman and I looked at me, standing there with a baby in my arms and four children gathered around me as I pushed an empty stroller and reminded everyone to please whisper when they have something to add.
I didn't want to see myself in this frumpy woman at first.
You see, Mary Cassatt's later work largely focused on finding beauty in every day scenes, some that many found mundane. During her Impressionist days, she painted what was considered more sophisticated scenes like the opera. In her later art, she looked for women to paint who were considered plain and sometimes even unattractive. She sought out the beauty of the ordinary and painted them with grace.
Being compared to a subject in Mary Cassatt's collection initially wasn't the best compliment just a few days before Valentine's Day! But as I walked around admiring the works of a woman who was going against the grain of popular art and using her brush strokes to highlight a mostly unseen group of ordinary women (like me!), I found the love behind Jordan's sentiment. Here, is a woman, tending to children outside. I see her knitting or mending perhaps. She's making an effort to take care of the people and responsibilities she's entrusted with yet she's taking time to enjoy the colors around her and prioritizing curiosity, rest, play, and time out of doors for the children, too.
The comparison is a sweet reminder that I don't have to be polished. I don't need to be peoples' cup of tea. There's something lovely in this quiet life here at home with my family. Beauty in the ordinary.