Sometimes we can find inspiration in likely places, like a museum. Other times we find inspiration in the most unlikely of places, like a simple story from a colleague. This week’s on ramp is a little of both, and comes from Hillary Bleckley by way of an e-mail she shared with some of her innovation teammates. Here’s her thoughts…
“Last night, Andrew (Hillary’s Husband) and I made a late night visit to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. I had been telling him about the small, but impressive, exhibit, Photographs from Paris, and insisted that we also visit another new installation by artist Diana Al-Hadid. (It’s this prodigious, enchanting art form that overtakes an entire room). After checking out both exhibits, Andrew asked if we could make our way to the modern art wing to view his favorite piece, Landscape with Wing, by Anselm Kiefer. I’m not particularly taken by Kiefer - many of Kiefer’s paintings incorporate straw, tar, and ash, depicting post-war Germany – but this one is quite captivating with the juxtaposition of a massive metal wing floating above the desolate landscape.
While Andrew and I stood in silence at the back of the room to take in the full breadth of the painting, a docent came up to us and asked us if we knew much about the piece of art. We didn’t really, other than what was detailed on the little plastic placard to the right of the massive painting. The docent proceeded to tell us that the painting was inspired by an Icelandic myth. The story was about a boy mason worker who became a slave to a Viking family, who neglected the boy and made him toil for years. Determined to escape and seek retribution on the evil family, the boy spent months fashioning a pair of metal wings. Upon final construction, the boy mercilessly killed the family, strapped on his wings, and escaped by flight from the farm never to return.
The story was disturbing, and alarming, but it gave the painting new meaning. It put the painting in context. It gave it emotion. Within a matter of minutes, that wing told a different story. I found myself studying it differently. Suddenly, from the painting, emerged themes like freedom, desperation, hope –themes that certainly resonated in post-war Europe. It was a good reminder that everything has a context. Everything has a story. Whether a company, a brand, or a person. When we take the time to dig a little deeper, uncover the story, it shapes our interaction, our connection, to that thing. The beauty of art is there is always room for interpretation, but the beauty of telling a story is the depth of understanding and opportunity for connection that it brings.”
*Each Monday, Prophet’s Chief Curator and Provocateur, Andy Stefanovich, or a member of our innovation team shares an on-ramp to Monday with Prophet employees across the globe. We’d like to share the inspiration and expand the footprint of these weekly jump starts by sharing them here. This week’s post was written by Geof Hammond in our Richmond office. Happy Monday!