I was wearing my Mona Lisa sweatshirt from the Louvre when we visited the Lauren Rogers Museum in Laurel, Mississippi. Founded in 1923, it was the first art museum in Mississippi. Worlds apart. Same goal.
The Lauren Rogers Museum has an extensive Native American basket collection. Beautiful weaving. The finest detail. Within this collection, it boasts of the smallest woven baskets ever seen – or almost seen. You have to look through a magnifying glass, and still, it is barely visible. I suppose the first question many people ask is, “Why?” Baskets were made to be used. Functional. Carrying the essentials of food. So why the microscopic basket. What could it carry?
I suppose as any artist or creator, I have asked myself the same question. Is it important to make the art? What does it matter? What could my words, my paintings possibly carry? But any of these microscopic doubts are always erased by connections. Connections with you.
I recently spoke to a group of Minnesota teachers at a conference in Brainerd. After speaking, I was selling cards and books and art. As they carried their selections up to me, each person also carried their story. One woman needed the cardinal book, “Here I am,” because her young son had died and this is how he spoke to her. Another needed the lipstick book because, her mother, like mine, always told her to “slap it on.” Each person connected to a different piece in a different way. Bringing with them their stories, taking with them mine — tiny baskets.
I could feel it yesterday. This American girl, now living in France, wearing an Italian masterpiece, standing in a Southern museum, with Native American art, I knew, the importance, the significance of all, even the smallest of us, perhaps especially. And it matters. We are connected. Carried.