I have concluded after some years of observation, that very few high school graduates know exactly what they want to do with their lives. I’ve also concluded that going to college is not for everyone and also that it is not vital to full and happy life. That being said, I did go to college, but I took a year off after high school. In hindsight, it was definitely the best move. I’d taken some art classes in high school but didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do or study. At one point I considered being a math teacher. Now I avoid math at all costs. At another point I talked to a Navy recruiter. Now, being married to a soldier, I can easily see that that would not have gone well either.
So at the age of 18, and with the support and help of my parents, I decided to attend a year long program through Torchbearer Bible Schools in Europe: 6 months in Germany and 2 months in England. Unquestionably, that year shaped who I am today. It allowed me to decide who I was and what I wanted to be. It allowed me to ask questions and realize that it was okay if there weren’t always answers. But one thing I was sure about at the end of the year was the fact that I wanted to study art. I wanted to be surrounded by it and question it and maybe even make it.
Obviously anywhere you go on the European continent is going to be full of old and beautiful art, and really that is the direction I ended up going with my career field, later getting a BA in Art History and Studio Art in Florence. But during my “gap year” in Europe, I returned to Texas for a week as a surprise. I had to spend a day in Dallas waiting for everything to come together, and I found myself at the Dallas Museum of Art. I’ll never forget they had an exhibit on the Egyptian King Tutankhamun who I’d been obsessed with since I was a child. The special collection of ancient Egyptian treasurers was exquisite but what surprised me the most was a sculpture garden attached to the side of the building.
I’d never been in a sculpture garden before and the concept fascinated me. I tend to be interested in historical art and the stories that are attached. But I found myself in the middle of a garden with tall, strait walls covered in ivy, in the middle of a big city, transfixed by the story-less sculptures that surrounded me.
There is a lot of debate in the art world, especially in the last 100 years or so, about what art is and whether or not it has to have a meaning. Some argue that art is whatever you decide it is. Some say that art is in the eye of the beholder. Those who find the whole conversation silly are likely to define art as an image of something that they don’t care about. Up to this point, I’d never personally given it any thought. But I knew, as soon as I walked through those doors, that the sculpture garden at the Dallas Museum of Art was a place I would remember and love.
Lots of sculpture gardens are attached to museum cafes, which often means that there are lots of people milling about. This sculpture garden however, though free and accessible from both the street and the inside of the museum, has been very quiet on both occasions I’ve visited. It is pleasant and peaceful. There might be a few people milling about and I’ve even seen a couple practicing what looked to be a wedding dance. It’s a reprieve from the hustle and bustle that it just beyond the walls.
I don’t get to spend as much time focused on art history these days. I’ve got a household to take care of and a business to run. But on my most recent visit to Texas, knowing I would be in Dallas, I had to make the trip to the Dallas Museum of Art and photograph this sculpture garden I’d been thinking about since my previous visit almost a decade ago. Most of the sculptures are made out of stone or metal and nothing had changed. We were a bit pressed for time so it wasn’t perhaps as relaxing as the environment was intended to be, but I’m so glad I made the effort to capture some of my favorite sculptures in the garden, no longer story-less but full of personal meaning and memory.