Unlike the fears we learn, the fear of falling (basophobia) is innate in humans as in most other mammals. We fear great depths and great heights. Iconic narratives such as Icarus flying too near the sun, or Moby Dick taking Ahab down into the sea, reveal the horror and mystery we attribute to vast spaces. But what if we didn’t have to? What flowering of possibilities might flow? What perspectives might we gain if we lived weightless in the air, or secure in the water?
We can only imagine what we could do or be, without fear. We can exercise the primary function of art: lowering the barriers to new experiences. It is a safe, accessible, and invaluable practice of freedom, a challenge to exercise breadth of mind. The environmental movement, for example, gained its broad base of support when people first saw photos of the Earth, taken from space. Whether by looking at art or by making it, we gain a whole new dimension of experience and empathy.
Another dimension, of course, is time. Exhibitions Manager Amelia Onorato explores MMoA over time in the current exhibition: The Founders: Reclaiming Mystic’s Artistic Roots. Time also comes into play in the Visiting Artists’ Gallery she designed in the Terrace Gallery, inviting visitors of all ages to linger and respond to the exhibition in writing, drawing, or simply looking at what other visitors have written and drawn. Here is what one recent visitor had to say, in social media: