I was stuck in traffic and looked left. This mural artist was working diligently on her creation. She had scaffolding covering the entire wall of the building, and today she was working on one specific area. Fortunately for me it was a long stoplight and I was able to observe her in action. The way she moved, the way she interacted with the wall and the paint, the way she navigated through the labyrinth of the scaffolding…then the light changed. I have not been back to that intersection since, and have it on my to do list to drive back that way and check her progress.
As I drove to my destination I thought about the scale and perspective she had to exercise when working on a huge wall. I was in awe and had trouble thinking about HOW she did what she did. How does she maintain perspective? How does she manage consistency across the piece, the colors, the style? And how does she ‘step back’ and take a look at the entire piece when the scaffolding is in the way? As I drove I realized she had an entirely different perspective on her art than someone like me who works in a smaller format. Seeing her work made me think about the perspective I live with, and what her perspective must be like.
My drive was a long one, so I had time to think. I extrapolated about perspective on many topics – age, race, gender, creativity, family, home, and even success. I thought about the different people I know and how they might think about these topics. How does my friend, my family, my colleague, my community define success or creativity, or how do they value home? How do they measure success and know when they have arrived? And how do they react when someone else has a different, bigger or smaller perspective than their own? Seeing this artist work in such a big format, a larger space than I have ever imagined made me think big, bigger, and on a more grand scale than I had before. It doesn’t make me want to do murals; it provides me a glimpse into someone else’s perspective and puts my own world into a smaller box. It challenges me to see things differently, and reminds me to check my own assumptions at the door. I often jump into my own world too quickly when the rest of the world sees things on a wider scale, a grander scale, and my tiny spec doesn’t rattle anything other than my own cage.
This mural artist also reminded me to look beyond the scaffolding I have erected in my own life. The barriers I have created and the way those barriers impact my ability to be myself, perform the way I want, live my own definition of success. She reminded me to step out of the walls and barriers of my own invention and look at the big picture. I look forward to seeing her final work of art and enjoy the fruits of her labors. She serves as an example to me of someone thinking really big…and if she can do it, I can do it too.