Art Feed

Awareness: An (Unsuccessful) Experiment in the Miami Airport

During a layover at the Miami International Airport last week, I did my usual routine of crossing between terminal D and E to enjoy the brilliant artwork by Miami students displayed along the corridor walls.  There are always at least a few quality pieces, but last month’s selection (wood block printing) was over the top in the number of stunning colorful prints and collages that decorated the walls.  I saw works of art that matched the visual quality of some pieces I have seen in galleries, museums and art shows.

 When I reversed my walking direction to return to Terminal D, the first thing that I noticed was that no one else paid any attention to the art.  I stood for a few minutes, watching as at least a hundred people passed by, too absorbed with their cellphones, Blackberries, iPhones and iPods to notice anything but the carpet three feet in front of their shoes.  I walked to the center of the corridor and stood beside a wall, watching people come and go from both directions.  After at least five minutes had passed, not one person had even looked at the art.  No one turned their head, no one stood back to take in these beautiful works of creativity.

 I trailed back to a display case housing two abstract collages that would have looked good in any of the homes in South Beach, standing five feet away to take in all the images.

 A few people stepped around me, but no one stopped to see what it was that had caused me to stand and stare in admiration.  I stood a little longer, watching the reflection of travelers in the glass as they passed back and forth like of a colony of ants on a mission, but not even one person glanced in the direction of the art.  I walked to another case and stood in the middle of the corridor while admiring the next grouping of paintings and prints.  People walked around me or in front of me, but none stopped to take in this collage of creativity. 

 Inspired by the half-read copy of Paulo Coehlo’s “The Valkyries” in my carry-on (a story in which awareness is a central theme), I did an experiment.  I was in a great mood (despite that I consider myself an artist and it made me a little sad that no one saw let alone appreciated the art on the walls), having been “bumped up” to Business Class on the Miami-Managua leg, so smiling wasn’t a problem.  I decided to smile and make eye contact with every person I passed for the next hour and a half.  While I might not get a call back from the Ford Modeling Agency, I am not what most people would call unattractive.  Men half my age hit on me and I still get carded at 43.  I wore a very short, artsy-hippie-girl-who-lives-in-Provence kind of dress that has received several compliments at home.  It was a great hair day and I was about to embark in the wonderful business class seats.  I was feeling pretty good.

Despite my self-assurance , friendly attitude and the tens of thousands of people passing through this airport, I garnered almost no attention.  Over the next hour, I could only make eye contact with five people people.  Upon making eye contact, I smiled wider (not a fake or forced smile, nothing creepy).  Four of those people kept a neutral face and looked away.  The only person that smiled back and appeared genuinely friendly was the bomb/drug sniffing dog handler.  I passed him four times and we always exchanged a hello.  In truth, I just wanted to go up and pet the dog, but I think that is against protocol, at least in the US.  I didn’t want to get his handler in trouble, so I resisted my natural urge to go over to the dog and start scrunching his neck and ears.

The employee of the Au Bon Pain seemed bored out of her skull, but she wouldn’t take the time to look me in the eye or respond to conversation.  The two employees at the news counter were too busy gabbing with each other in Spanish (and speaking to me in Spanish) to notice anything more than my wallet and debit card.  One did remember to adhere to the corporate profit guidelines and ask if I wanted to by a bottle of water for $3.50, but there was no eye contact.  The cashier at the bookstore shared his love of history books with me, but as soon as we made a millisecond of eye contact, his gaze shifted.  

The next person I made eye contact with was the ticket agent at the gate.  Five people in 90 minutes in one of the busiest airports in the United Sates mid morning, the busiest time of the day.  

 The book mentions that we often get stuck in our second mind, the one that traps us with static and clutter and useless chatter.  Most humans do not look beyond a small perimeter of their environment.  I doubt more than a few people I passed that day would have been able to recognize me ten seconds later. 

Following Jesus

This photo was a mistake.  I was attempting to photograph a religious procession at dusk with my point and shoot, which has a lengthy flash delay and caused a blurry image.  I added a filter from Photoshop and this image evolved.

 Easter burning man 

copyright Kelly Ann Thomas

All rights reserved. 

One more filter and it turned into what I call, "Burning Man 2".

Burning man 2 picasso dreams 

A Beautiful, Distorted History

When the previous pieces are combined and all traces of destruction and warfare removed, history is erased and we are left with something visually pleasing to the eye to some discerners of abstract art.  It reminds me of the United States.

Art kelly ann thomas 

copyright Kelly Ann Thomas

all rights reserved