Soul Food

Pausing For Fall

During an ordinary year at Dickinson, this long weekend—the midpoint break of Fall Pause—would be full of movement and smiles. Students would go home for some well-deserved rest, travel with friends, or relax in the quiet on-campus. Now, with the semester online, any plans are uncertain—and the stress of midterms lingers on.

 

Are you looking for a break in this turbulent fall? Maybe art can help. Here are three pieces that encourage you to pause and contemplate, transporting you to another place in the process.

Lucien Clergue(1934 – 2014)
Fountain at the Seagram Building, NY
Gelatin silver print on paper
15.688 x 13 in. (39.846 x 33.02 cm)
1961, 20th c., 2011.8.3
Gift of the D’Angelo family

 

When I first saw this print, I was sure it was an illustration—globs of patterned amoebas floating in negative space. Then I saw the title; after defocusing my eyes, I realized a photo had been taken of the white foam that gathers on the surface of a fountain. The high contrast and shadows under the foam enable multiple views of the image, and it’s calming to lose yourself in it from both perspectives—as black droplets in an empty background, or white haze over a shadowy pool. Either way, there’s great flow in how the parts of the image bend and curve around each other, like the water that makes up the photo subject.

John J. Dull (1859 – 1949)
Water, a Bank, and Houses
watercolor, 13.875 x 18.375 in. (35.243 x 46.673 cm) n.d., 1951.1.30
Gift of Josephine Linn

 

Here’s another piece with a connection to water, depicting a town at the riverside. I appreciate the way the light watercolor and squiggly strokes show off the buildings’ reflection on the water’s surface. The artist John J. Dull was born in Philadelphia, and I have to wonder if this painting was based on any particular spot from his home state. It reminds me of rowing down a peaceful segment of the Susquehanna River on a trip during my first fall at Dickinson, and spotting clusters of squat river houses.

 

Manuel Alvarez Bravo (1902 – 2002)
Bicicletas en Domingo
Gelatin silver print on paper
8 x 10 in. (20.32 x 25.4 cm)
1979, 20th c., 1986.1.2.14
Gift of Lawrence and Carol Zicklin

 

Finally, let’s move from the water onto a flatland with this photograph, captured in Mexico. The small figures of the cyclists stand in contrast to the looming mountains in the distance, and beyond that, the open sky. The distinct parallel lines of air, mountains, and earth give me a sense of the expanse of the scenery, making me feel as though I’m taking in the view alongside the figures. Right now, most of my time is spent inside my house, completing classes; although exercising outside helps, I’m still confined to my neighborhood. Photos like this remind me of just how big the surrounding world can be.

 

I hope that this art evokes some memories of your own, and that looking at it brought a small breath of comfort in this chaotic semester. If you have the chance, take some time, go outside, and find your own scenes like these!

 

Claire Jeantheau, Class of 2021

Communications and Events Student Assistant

 

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