Column: Finding The Shadow
Published: Thursday, October 17, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2013 01:10
Every Columbus Day weekend, I pick up my camera and take photos of the autumn campus. Boston College has two seasons that are more picturesque seasons than the daily dusk. One is when the leaves start changing—the other one is when it snows heavily in a late evening. Because I followed the BC football team to West Point last year as The Heights photo editor, I was looking forward to enjoying the scenes I missed during the last Columbus Day. Unfortunately, it was a little early for the colored leaves at Lower (take a note: lower campus is the most picturesque part of BC for colorful leaves), and the leaves around the Reservoir have already been taken down by the notorious Bostonian wind.
Until my fourth year at BC, I hadn’t gone into the city and explored very often, perhaps because I was exhausted from exploration. As much as I enjoyed traveling around, I wanted to settle down at one point. The campus gave me so much comfort as a home and as another basecamp. Yet, the comfort became a bubble—I had been afraid of going out beyond the campus boundaries. Perhaps the reluctance of traveling also came from the inconvenient Boston public transportation system. Used to commuting with better public transportation in Seoul, Sydney, Berlin, and Munich, I’ve avoided overcoming the small inconvenience.
This time, though, I tried the Museum of Fine Arts. Over the past few weeks, I’ve enjoyed walking around downtown—I’m ashamed to admit that I’m only doing this in my senior year. From the Kenmore station, I unexpectedly enjoyed walking to the MFA in drizzling rain because I finally had the feeling that I’m living in the city (well, technically in the greater Boston area). I felt lucky, thinking about my European friends who told me they would like to visit the city.
When I first arrived, I was baffled and pleased by the free admission for BC students. I realized that many people don’t know about this unless they’ve visited the MFA for their classes. Everyone I knew was playing FIFA or just resting in the suite on weekend afternoons. Going off campus does consume energy, but it is worth it, just as exploring Munich everyday was when I was abroad.
Once I passed the entrance, I looked for the European collections, remembering the greatness I saw in Berlin and Munich. I found some of Monet’s works, but my expectation turned into disappointment—the exhibition was nothing like Germany. Well, I realized soon after that I needed to see the American collections since the museum is obviously located in Boston, not in Berlin. I also realized that I hadn’t been exposed to American painting. So when I saw the gigantic paintings of “The Passage of The Delaware” and “Washington at Dorchester Heights,” I almost raised my arms and said out loud, “I know these!” I was genuinely amazed to recognize some paintings I’d seen from textbooks.
Nevertheless, my surprise to see the renowned American paintings didn’t come from the fact that I saw something I had learned at school. The surprise came from the fact that I hadn’t been aware of the locality of the great works. All along, I had thought all the genuine masterpieces were located at the Louvre and at the Museum of Great Britain. Although the MFA is a world renowned museum, its status hadn’t rung in my ears, because, as a resident, I’d been used to its reputation.
We don’t tend to appreciate things close to us. There is a Korean proverb saying, “the shadow is under the candle stick.” I suggest you bring your camera to Lower and see what you see. You might find something great that you haven’t paid close attention to.