Beauty and Comfort Wherever You Find It

Auguste Rodin (French, 1840–1917) “The Hand of God,” modeled 1896-1908, cast 1909-1918 bronze. H: 38 in. x W: 24 1/2 in. x D: 17 in. (96.52 x 62.23 x 43.18 cm). Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh: Purchase, 20.14.5

It is odd to miss a sculpture. 

There is a Rodin (I think it is a Rodin) of two lovers curled together in the hand of God at the Carnegie Museum of Art that I haven’t seen in about a year.

If you had asked me a year ago, “What is your favorite piece of art in Pittsburgh?” I wouldn’t have said this particular sculpture. 

I might have said a certain piece of glass that looks like a rising sun over the mountains that sits in the Carnegie’s foyer (and was created by a brilliant American glass artist whose name escapes me right now). Or perhaps I would have said the purple and yellow Chihuly at the Phipps that took years to grow on me and always needs dusting. 

But the sculpture of the safety and love between God and the couple whom He protects is like a kind neighbor, knocking on my thoughts when I least expect it, bringing beauty, comfort and joy without obligation. 

The art for the artist might be a creative process that is taxing, sweaty and raw, but for the viewer, it is so much less and more at the same time: less demand and more giving; less commitment and more grace. 

My son, Nick, once told a saleswoman in a museum gift shop that his mother was all about art, and while I create very little, I soak up the work that others have given to the world, marvel at it, sink into the experience and enjoy it. 

Someone once told me that Rodin used his own hand for the model, and I find that there’s something comforting in the idea of an artist protecting us all. Artists perhaps see our world more clearly and are therefore able to pick out the most poignant parts to reflect back for the rest of us. 

So as we embrace this new year, I wish each of you a year full of art. May you see beautiful and insightful works whenever you need comfort and make a store of new memories to sneak up on you and bring you happiness. 

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