Birth of Venus

7:00 AM

Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, 1432

The assignment said three minutes. Three minutes to talk about our assigned painting. You could hope your classmates would ask you-time sucking questions, or that you’d be charming enough that one would need to hold for laughs, and suck up the three minutes that way, but you can never count on it. So I prepared to speak for three minutes. Myth of the characters, symbolism of the colors, and division in the composition all were supposed to take about a minute, with each bullet point to mention carefully selected. So my name was called, and up I went. Not intimidated or nervous, but cautious. Speak too quickly and end to early, or speak too slowly and sound clinical. Three minutes. Go.

I spoke like I read the painting, left to right, pausing to notice quirks and brilliant details. I had hardly reached Venus when I heard the timer sound, but the “keep going” nod of approval was relieving, not intimidating. On I went. I had spent enough time with this work to get not just the bullet points, but the… stuff. The fun stuff. The art stuff. I noticed new things as I went, and it was a thrill to continue. It wasn’t scary anymore, or presentational anymore. It was fun. I learned as I spoke. Myths are fun, art is fun. And when a visitor came, and one person needed to present again for them to observe our class structure, it was fun even a second time. Seeing The Birth of Venus doesn’t fill me with the stress of having to rack my brain for the artist or title, because I know that painting. I have a comfort with it. Now every time I see it I am reminded of three things: the comfort that comes with preparation, the connection one can have with story even if it is not their own, and how convenient Venus’ hair length is. And if that isn’t artistic observation...

Editor's Note: The students were assigned to write about the painting that has impacted them the most. These pieces will run for  about two weeks. 

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