The Arab and His Steed

Jean-Leon Gerome, The Arab and His Steed, 1872

To the Desert 
Benjamin Alire Sáenz

I came to you one rainless August night.
You taught me how to live without the rain.
You are thirst and thirst is all I know.
You are sand, wind, sun, and burning sky,
The hottest blue. You blow a breeze and brand
Your breath into my mouth. You reach—then bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
You wrap your name tight around my ribs
And keep me warm. I was born for you.
Above, below, by you, by you surrounded.
I wake to you at dawn. Never break your
Knot. Reach, rise, blow, Sálvame, mi dios,
Trágame, mi tierra. Salva, traga, Break me,
I am bread. I will be the water for your thirst.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to match a poem of their choice with a painting of their choice. The relationship between the two shall be determined by the viewer/reader.
  • 7:00 AM

Dance at Bougival

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Dance at Bougival, 1883 


by Arthur Rimbaud

On n'est pas sérieux, quand on a dix-sept ans.
- Un beau soir, foin des bocks et de la limonade,
Des cafés tapageurs aux lustres éclatants !
- On va sous les tilleuls verts de la promenade.
Les tilleuls sentent bon dans les bons soirs de juin !
L'air est parfois si doux, qu'on ferme la paupière ;
Le vent chargé de bruits - la ville n'est pas loin -
A des parfums de vigne et des parfums de bière....

- Voilà qu'on aperçoit un tout petit chiffon
D'azur sombre, encadré d'une petite branche,
Piqué d'une mauvaise étoile, qui se fond
Avec de doux frissons, petite et toute blanche...
Nuit de juin ! Dix-sept ans ! - On se laisse griser.
La sève est du champagne et vous monte à la tête...
On divague ; on se sent aux lèvres un baiser
Qui palpite là, comme une petite bête....

Le coeur fou Robinsonne à travers les romans,
Lorsque, dans la clarté d'un pâle réverbère,
Passe une demoiselle aux petits airs charmants,
Sous l'ombre du faux col effrayant de son père...
Et, comme elle vous trouve immensément naïf,
Tout en faisant trotter ses petites bottines,
Elle se tourne, alerte et d'un mouvement vif....
- Sur vos lèvres alors meurent les cavatines...

Vous êtes amoureux. Loué jusqu'au mois d'août.
Vous êtes amoureux. - Vos sonnets La font rire.
Tous vos amis s'en vont, vous êtes mauvais goût.
- Puis l'adorée, un soir, a daigné vous écrire...!
- Ce soir-là,... - vous rentrez aux cafés éclatants,
Vous demandez des bocks ou de la limonade..
- On n'est pas sérieux, quand on a dix-sept ans
Et qu'on a des tilleuls verts sur la promenade.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to match a poem of their choice with a painting of their choice. The relationship between the two shall be determined by the viewer/reader.

  • 7:00 AM

Woman at the Window

Salvador Dalí, Woman at the Window, 1925

Ode on Solitude
By Alexander Pope

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to match a poem of their choice with a painting of their choice. The relationship between the two shall be determined by the viewer/reader.
  • 7:00 AM

Flirtation al Pozzo

Eugene de Blaas, Flirtation al Pozzo, c. 1843

Thou Art Not False, But Thou Art Fickle 
by Lord Byron

Thou art not false, but thou art fickle,
To those thyself so fondly sought;
The tears that thou hast forced to trickle
Are doubly bitter from that thought:
'Tis this which breaks the heart thou grievest,
Too well thou lov'st—too soon thou leavest.

The wholly false the heart despises,
And spurns deceiver and deceit;
But she who not a thought disguises,[bv]
Whose love is as sincere as sweet,—
When she can change who loved so truly,
It feels what mine has felt so newly.

To dream of joy and wake to sorrow
Is doomed to all who love or live;
And if, when conscious on the morrow,
We scarce our Fancy can forgive,
That cheated us in slumber only,
To leave the waking soul more lonely,

What must they feel whom no false vision
But truest, tenderest Passion warmed?[65]
Sincere, but swift in sad transition:
As if a dream alone had charmed?
Ah! sure such grief is Fancy's scheming,
And all thy Change can be but dreaming!

Editor's Note: Students were asked to match a poem of their choice with a painting of their choice. The relationship between the two shall be determined by the viewer/reader.

  • 7:00 AM

Monk Talking to an Old Woman

Monk Talking to Old Woman, Francisco de Goya, 1825
Much Madness Is Divinest Sense

By Emily Dickinson

Much Madness is divinest Sense-
To a discerning Eye-
Much Sense-the starkest Madness-
'Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail-
Assent-and you are sane-
Demur- you're straightway dangerous-
And handled with a Chain.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to match a poem of their choice with a painting of their choice. The relationship between the two shall be determined by the viewer/reader.
  • 7:00 AM


John Singer Sargent, Gassed, 1919


Arms and the Boy
by Wilfred Owen

Let the boy try along this bayonet-blade
How cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood;
Blue with all malice, like a madman's flash;
And thinly drawn with famishing for flesh.

Lend him to stroke these blind, blunt bullet-heads
Which long to muzzle in the hearts of lads.
Or give him cartridges of fine zinc teeth,
Sharp with the sharpness of grief and death.

For his teeth seem for laughing round an apple.
There lurk no claws behind his fingers supple;
And God will grow no talons at his heels,
Nor antlers through the thickness of his curls.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to match a poem of their choice with a painting of their choice. The relationship between the two shall be determined by the viewer/reader.
  • 7:00 AM

Four Darks in Red

Mark Rothko, Four Darks in Red, 1958

Insensibility by Wilfred Owen

Happy are these who lose imagination:
They have enough to carry with ammunition.
Their spirit drags no pack.
Their wounds, save with cold, can not more ache.
Having seen all things red, 
Their eyes are rid
Of the hurt of the color of blood forever.
And terror's first constriction over,
Their hearts remain small-drawn.
Their senses in some scorching cautery of battle
Now long since ironed,
Can laugh among the dying, unconcerned.

Happy the soldier home, with not a notion
How somewhere, every dawn, some men attack, 
And many sighs are drained.
Happy the lad whose mind was never trained:
His days are worth forgetting more than not.
He sings along the march
Which we march taciturn, because of dusk,
The long, forlorn, relentless trend
From larger day to hunger night.

We wise, who with a thought besmirch 
Blood over all our soul,
How should we see our task
But through his blunt and lashes eyes?
Alive, he is not vital over much;
Dying, not mortal overmuch;
Nor sad, nor proud, 
Nor curious at all.
He cannot tell
Old men's placidity from his.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to match a poem of their choice with a painting of their choice. The relationship between the two shall be determined by the viewer/reader.

  • 7:00 AM

The Tree of Crows

Caspar David Friedrich, The Tree of Crows, 1822

By William Carlos Williams

And yet one arrives somehow, 
finds himself loosening the hooks of
her dress
in a strange bedroom

feels the autumn 
dropping its silk and linen leaves 
about her ankles. 
The tawdry veined body emerges 
twisted upon itself
like a winter wind . . . !

Editor's Note: Students were asked to match a poem of their choice with a painting of their choice. The relationship between the two shall be determined by the viewer/reader.
  • 7:00 AM

Luncheon of the Boating Party

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1880-1881

To a Stranger
By Walt Whitman

PASSING stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me, as of a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall’d as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me, or a girl with me,
I ate with you, and slept with you—your body has become not yours only, nor left my body mine only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass—you take of my beard, breast, hands, in return,
I am not to speak to you—I am to think of you when I sit alone, or wake at night alone,
I am to wait—I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to match a poem of their choice with a painting of their choice. The relationship between the two shall be determined by the viewer/reader.
  • 7:00 AM

Still Life With Green Soup

Fernando Botero, Still Life with Green Soup, 1972

The Soup of Venus
By James Tate

This soup is cold
and it needs something
you probably didn't follow
the recipe, you were
in a hurry and wanted
to surprise me.
That was sweet of you
but you forgot
and I don't like
cold soup.
You might try adding
one bay leaf
while you are in there.
The salt is on the table
and I will experiment
with that myself.
The parsley doesn't 
taste much but it
does improve
the appearance.
You used to make
such good soup.
I always bragged
about your soup.
I think that's what
originally attracted me
to you, that hot soup
you used to make.
I loved that soup.
Do you still have
that recipe?
Well this tastes
a little better now,
lukewarm soup
is my second favorite.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to match a poem of their choice with a painting of their choice. The relationship between the two shall be determined by the viewer/reader.

  • 7:00 AM

Summer Scene

Jean-Frederic Bazille, Summer Scene, 1869

Gay Chaps At the Bar
by Gwendolyn Brooks

We knew how to order. Just the dash
Necessary. The length of gayety in good taste.
Whether the raillery should be slightly iced
and given green, or served up hot and lush.
And we knew beautifully how to give to women
The summer spread, the tropics, of our love.
When to persist, or hold a hunger off.
Knew white speech. How to make a look an omen.
But nothing ever taught us to be islands.
And smart athletic language for this hour
Was not in the curriculum. No stout
Lesson showed hot to chat with death. We brought
No brass fortissimo, among our talents,
To holler down the lions in this air,

Editor's Note: Students were asked to match a poem of their choice with a painting of their choice. The relationship between the two shall be determined by the viewer/reader.

  • 7:00 AM

The Siren

John William Waterhouse, The Siren, 1900

Siren's Song 
by Margaret Atwood

The is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men 
to leap overboard in squadrons 
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows 
beacause anyone who has heard it 
is dead, and the others can't remember.

Shall I tell you the secret 
and if i do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?

I don't enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical

with these two feathery maniacs,
I dont't enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song 

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last.  Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to match a poem of their choice with a painting of their choice. The relationship between the two shall be determined by the viewer/reader.
  • 7:00 AM

The Violation

Francisco de Goya, The Violation, 1819


Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to match a poem of their choice with a painting of their choice. The relationship between the two shall be determined by the viewer/reader.

  • 7:00 AM

The Festival of the Opening of the Vintage, Macon

J.M.W. Turner, The Festival of the Opening of the Vintage, Macon, 1802

To my endearing friends who have always welcomed and encouraged my growth; I dedicate this to you.

The Festival of the Opening of the Vintage, Macon is one of William Turner’s lesser known works depicting a seemingly plentiful grape harvest of 1802, which he visited and observed during his trip to France in 1801. In this painting, a group of farmers are seen celebrating heavily following a successful harvest they all took part in tending to. Turner’s composition draws the viewer’s attention to the river and the ambient glory of the surroundings, serving to justify the time and energy given by the farmers to the raising of the harvest. To me it represents the payoff of supporting and nurturing someone else.

The past few months have been challenging to say the least but no matter how many times reality has knocked me down, I have been able to rely on my close friends for support and encouragement to keep getting back up. At times when it feels like my effort is all for nothing and the ‘fruits’ of my labor have been spoiled, they have helped me see through to the plentiful harvest that waits if I keep persevering. Through the good and the bad of my development, their warmth has remained unchanged. For that I cannot thank them enough.
  • 7:00 AM

The Virgin with the Host

Kehinde Wiley, The Virgin with the Host, 2009



I can remember the first time a piece of art really caught my attention. You had bought a photograph by Kehinde Wiley while in New York ,and I watched it be mounted to our living room wall. I was confused yet intrigued, especially by the etch-a-sketch belt buckle.

I was so excited to have the opportunity to purchase another photograph from the same Wiley series for you. The painting is a modern take of Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres’ The Virgin Adoring The Host. Before I visited Wiley in his studio I had no idea that any of these paintings had been modeled after older ones. He uses incredibly bright and vibrant colors in his paintings and photographs rather than the paintings he uses as inspiration which are generally neutral and somewhat dull. Wiley takes the work of traditional portraitists such as Ingres, Reynolds, and many others and represents the subject as an urban African-American man.

After doing this transaction I decided I was already in New York and I might as well take a trip to the Met. I wanted to see what had inspired Wiley. I usually don’t like such traditional paintings, that being said I don’t usually feel anything when I see them either. But something was different with this, I realized things can change and be modernized but the foundation will stay the same. I think that says a lot and it especially reminds me of you. I realized that’s sort of how having a family works, so this is my thank you for providing my foundation.

  • 7:00 AM

Mountain in a Fog

 Casper David Fredrich, Mountain in a Fog, 1808

Dearest Brother Grant,

While few days have past since your departure from our mutual origin, I feel a void forming between us. Please allow me this season of giving to give unto you Mountain in a Fog. I beseech you not to view this as braggart's reminder of his achievements but as encouragement. Unfortunately in discussing as to why I selected this painting, I will have to laud my own experiences. As you are well aware, dear brother, I have climbed my share of mountains; I have yet to tell of the experience of doing so. Please allow me ,while I have you captive to my writing, a moment to explain why I chose this painting and of the ascent of Mt. Shavano.

Heavy fog had descended on the mountain obscuring all that was not within a number of feet. The fog stretched for several hundred feet above us, obscuring all but the culmination of the mountain. It was here that we all lost faith, none of us had an idea of what the path ahead contained. Yet we labored on and with each step more and more of the mountain revealed itself unto us. After some struggle we found our way to the summit. There we gazed upon the path below us, and only then did we understand the path we had taken. We now knew why the trail bent and curved where it did. I tell you this so you may apply it to your own journey. While the path to your ultimate goal may be shrouded with self-doubt and obscurity, climb on. Climb on so that you too may now understand the path you have trod. It is ours to do and no substitute may be taken in our place. Do or die.

Best Wishes.

Your Dear Brother,
  • 7:00 AM

Les Elephant

Salvador Dali, Les Elephants, 1948

My dear ginger friend Kennedy,

Alas my times on Earth are over, so I will you Les Elephant by my favorite artist, Salvador Dali. The red fades as your time by my side slowly comes to an end. I have thoroughly enjoyed your stories of journey to Thailand, and for this reason, my good friend Salvy Dali has painted elephants specifically for you. The sunset is the fire in your heart that refuses to die and color of your infinitely burning hair. The never ending legs of the elephants remind of your lengthy life. You are a year older than the rest of our class, after all. May you ride off into the sunset atop your elephant with your infinite amount of pets by your side and prosper wherever your elephant takes you.

“I am painting pictures which make me die for joy, I am creating with an absolute naturalness, without the slightest aesthetic concern, I am making things that inspire me with a profound emotion and I am trying to paint them honestly." -Salvador Dali

By willing this painting to you, I am dying of joy. Salvy's lack of aesthetic concern should be a mantra in your life, as you are as perfect as the most beautiful sunset. Elephants are a recurring theme in Dali's paintings, just as elephants are common in your Instagram posts. The pillars on the elephants' backs are the problems that weigh you down, but as the elephants are continuing their journey, I believe you can overcome any difficulties you may encounter. Your mission, shall you choose to accept it, is to live your life to the fullest. Home is at the end of the tunnel, or in this case the middle of the painting. Find the place you feel the most happy, and never give up. 

Keep on trekking, old chap.
Sarah Xu
  • 7:00 AM

Still Life with Candle

David Ligare ,Still Life with Candle, 1999

Dear Dad,

Going into surgery is not as easy as it sounds. It sounds simple, just walk into the waiting room as the anesthesiologist jabs a decently-sized needle into your arm and you feel cold distribute throughout your vessels as the sedative finds your nervous system. Simple right? As a kid, you cannot know what the smart, intimidating doctors are inserting into you, but you make it different. One time out of my many visits to the Emergency Room, the nurse was struggling to coerce the IV into the correct vessel in my arm in addition to dealing with my aversion to needles. But I looked over and saw you take over and it was a vastly different procedure. Despite the fact that you are my father, your calm demeanor and mental fortitude in the face of complications put me at ease as you cracked your typical Dad joke. “What do you call a cow with two legs? Lean beef. Funny one, Dad. 

As an anesthesiologist, you are the last person a child sees as he falls under the control of the sedative. You put them to sleep and they know that you’ll help make them better when they wake up. Twelve hours later and your ceaseless attention, they’ll wake up with a brand new heart, a new flame so that they can continue on with life. You wake up before the sun even has a chance to do so and continue work until sun has had enough with us for one day.  Your flame burns bright to rival that of the sun and then some.  Not every operation comes out successful but you learn from the situation and do not let that deter you from helping every patient that walks into your operating room.  Your drive runs seemingly endlessly despite your body not quite enjoying the lengths you might go to.

I give you this candle as an inspiration to me to always do my work with passion and unflinching devotion. Thank you.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone or something they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 7:00 AM

Sunrise by the Ocean

Vladimir Kush, Sunrise by the Ocean, 2011

I dedicate this work to the one person who loves eggs more than I do, my sister, Shweta, I hope that you are having an egg-celent day. To a former Art History student to a current art History student, I give you a truly eggs-plosive painting. We have our personal troubles, but I think we can egg-nore that even if it is just for a little while. You must be confused by this blog post and its ok, I would too. Just whisk and move on. The yolk will dry up with enough heat.

I think you should find it just as enjoyable as me that the first thing I saw in this painting was you. We truly are two chickens from the same roost, one is just higher up in the sky than the other. You can decide who is who to avoid conflict. I would say that we are just two yolks of the same albumen, but if we were locked within the walls of a membrane, one of us would break out sooner than the other one just to avoid the scrambling that would occur.

You are three years and eleven months older than me, and thus, you are three years and eleven months wiser.than me. I think there are so many times where I actually have the better perspective of a situation than you, but omelettin' this slide. There are some days where you egg-nore me, and some days where you won't leave me alone, but at the end of the day, you are the closest thing to me in this world at the cellular level. I think we hatch ourselves a lot of good ideas and, to end this on the sunny side up.

To you, I give this Vladimir Kush painting. Merry Christmas Shweta, much love and happiness to you and congratulations on your acceptance into medical school. I don't say it very often, but I am glad I have you around. You are a wise chicken over my small, chick, shoulders.

  • 7:00 AM

Visions of Eternity

Salvador Dali, Visions of Eternity, 1936


Salvador Dali, a Spanish surrealist painter, was known for his iconic style of incorporating cubism, impressionism, pointillism, futurism, and neo-cubism into his artwork. His use of historical, scientific, and religious themes helped create a new vision of the aspects of life through one single painting. When looking at his work, it appears  imaginative and dream-like, as if being within another universe - a universe that no one knew existed. The exploration of different dimensions is clearly displayed and has sparked an interest in people to learn more about his thoughts that built the perception of the material he used. Salvador Dali went out of his way to create art that was way before his time. A form of art where imagination became reality. He allowed people to see beyond the norm of artistry. 

In Visions of Eternity, Dali creates a painting of darkness and sadness that either reflects upon deeper problems within his personal life or the fathomless journey of the place people have in the world. This painting includes almost a silhouette figure sitting on top of an archway. In his paintings, a silhouette or shadow figure represents either something good, a supernatural entity, or strength, but also something wicked, influenced by struggles in life or self consciousness. Its face is blurred, as if it doesn't know its identity or feels loss of who they are or have become. Although the face isn't present,  the posture gives away the feeling of heartache. The core of the figure's body is beginning to fade away and deteriorate, as if the individual has lost all hope and is falling into deep depression. Pieces of its body are on the ground in front of the figure as it stares down at them, realizing now that there is nothing that can be done. In the distance, there is another figure that almost appears skeleton-like caring a net type bag. He is being followed by blobs that appear as apparitions. The significance of this figure is that even though it is thin and empty, it's still not fully gone and is trying to find its way in life the best it can. 

This work of art gives off a distressing view of life and how an individual can feel so empty inside. It displays as if death or giving up on life is better than living an eternity feeling lost and of no importance. When this painting was finished in 1936, the Spanish Civil War was happening. His sense of sadness could have been a reflection of the time of war and how corrupt the world was becoming. War was not only destroying its surrounding, but also the people involved in it.

Although Visions of Eternity is not on the joyous spectrum compared to other paintings, I chose it because it captured my attention and allowed me to relate it to my own life. I've decided to gift this painting to my father. I made the decision to give it to him because I've felt like the figure in the painting and my father has always been there to lift me up and make sure that I didn't fall apart and feel empty.  There have been obstacles in life where I've had to be strong and stay positive. Without the help of my father, it would have been much harder to make it through. So, I give this painting to my father, thanking him for helping me through the hardships life throws at us all. 

  • 7:00 AM


Ferdinando Botero, Poodle, 1971

Mom, I gift you Poodle not only to give you a chuckle, but also as an intervention. You feed Rudy (her own grey poodle) way too many treats. At the rate you're going, his form has the potential to resemble that of the overweight dog in Poodle. Please, do us all a favor and stop the madness.
Poodle, a painting by Ferdinando Botero, depicts an obese grey poodle resting on an ornate carpet. This work completed in 1971 can be considered as "Naïve Art," meaning that it includes childlike simplicity in its manner. This naïveté can be demonstrated in either or both subject matter and technique. While some artists who create "Naïve Art" may have little to no artistic training, others have studied classical art or received university training.
Ferdinando Botero, born in 1932, was always fascinated with visual art and at the age of 16 had his first illustrations published in a Columbian newspaper. As an adult, he traveled with a group of artists around Barcelona and moved to Paris in 1953, where he spent much of his time at the Louvre. Since then, Botero has earned international recognition for his paintings and sculptures.
Botero's work has manifested its own signature style, called "Boterismo," in which the subject matter is exaggerated to critique politics or create humor. In Poodle, the subject matter is by far larger than your average poodle. In today's culture, the breed is typically regarded as prissy and feminine. Looking at Poodle, you might laugh, then feel bad for the poor animal, and maybe even be a little grossed out. The innocence of the small yellow bows adorning the poodle's ears add to the contradicting emotions portrayed by this painting.

To Rudy, I want to apologize for all the times I called you fat. You're not fat, just a little too "Boterismo."

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone or something they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 7:00 AM

Rothko Chapel

Mark Rothko, Rothko Chapel, 1971

To those who feel too much,

I give you this chapel, this sanctuary, this sacred space so you can feel.

Over Thanksgiving break I finally took If You Feel too Much by Jamie Tworkowski off my shelf and read it cover to cover. Now, I was given the task of gifting a painting to someone, and as I feel too much, I couldn’t gift just one painting and I couldn’t give it to just one person. This is for every follower of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), every single person who has struggled and survived, every person who has succumbed to their pain, and every person who is still trying to escape their dark bubble. Mark Rothko felt too much, too.

As you walk inside, I hope that these white walls welcome you and I hope that these great murals engulf you. Sit on the benches and feel all of the murals focusing on you, on your pain and on your hope. Then walk up to the painting—the recommended viewing distance by Rothko himself is just 18 inches away. Let the painting come to life. Let it pulsate. Let it move. Let yourself see nothing but the color in front of you. Let yourself feel the painting. Forget your pain, forget your sorrow, but don’t forget the hope and the color.

It doesn’t matter what religion you practice, all are welcome in this sanctuary of art. The Chapel “has two vocations: contemplation and action.” Furthermore, the mission of “the Rothko Chapel is to inspire people to action through art and contemplation, to nurture reverence for the highest aspirations of humanity, and to provide a forum for global concerns.” The TWLOHA motto isn’t too different: TWLOHA is a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery. Both exist to inspire others, spread global awareness, and to encourage people to reevaluate their lives. Both of them exist for people who feel too much.

So to those that feel too much, I gift you this place, in hopes that it serves its purpose as a safe place and a pure place and a place of hope. I believe you can relate to Rothko, the passionate painter, who was gone too soon. And, I hope you can relate to each other—as this is a safe place for all people.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone or something they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 7:00 AM

A Rainstorm at Sea

Joseph Mallord William Turner, A Rainstorm at Sea, 1822

To my sleep-deprived sister, Annie,

I gift you Turner’s A Rainstorm at Sea to liven up your deteriorating Naismith dorm room wall. This painting can hang right above your mini refrigerator and right below your way-too-sparkly “Kappa Alpha Theta” sign. Or maybe, this can lie above your desk, so it is the last thing you see every night before you reside to sleep at 3 a.m. in typical college fashion. I gift you this painting to give you that last spark of motivation during your college years filled with projects, papers and tests. When that Chai Tea Latte just isn’t doing the trick, and you have yet to figure out how the heck you find the acidity to titration all the while attempting to finish the paper due tomorrow, simply look into this Turner painting and I hope you feel at peace. This is for those moments when you feel as if you’re drowning in that dark, empty water where Turner showed no mercy to color and painted with stark black. You must simply take a deep breath and appreciate the pinks and the blues and the yellows.

Don’t let yourself fall into the unbounded cycle of procrastination due to self-pity and stress, and instead, rise above. The rain may seem endless, and you may feel as though surely you will never pass your finals and graduate, but I can assure you, every storm passes. So too, will your stress. Soon enough, you will be on break, sleeping more than 3 hours a night, and relying on anything other than just Costco-brand Keurig cups, and you will be okay. Don’t fret, and dive into Turner.

Let him takes you places your math homework can’t. Let him guide you through your hours and hours of work and help you make it out the other side with yes, coffee-stained clothing, tangled hair and bags under your eyes, but alive, nonetheless. Annie, I gift you this painting to help you push through the rainstorms that you have definitely experienced and will inevitably face more of during your time at KU. Let Turner’s colors overtake you, and his emotions move you.

  • 7:00 AM

Rooms by the Sea

Edward Hopper, Rooms by the Sea, 1951

To my Papa,

This painting encompasses sadness and almost surely death but I find happiness within it anyways. The door has swung open to the ocean, which typically would hint towards suicide, because of the ease of walking straight out into the waters. The water glistens though, and the sun has shone inside through the open door and a window in the room to the right. People commonly vacation to places like Florida or the Caribbean to be in the ocean and get rid of their worries and sorrows. So, instead of appearing as a depressing painting, this bright painting provokes feelings of anti-stress and a freedom from worries for me. This reminds me of when we used to vacation in Cape Cod for the summer, the closer we were to the ocean, the better, happier and more at ease we were. In this case, the home sits right on the water- about as perfect and happy as possible. I know sometimes you let your job stress you out, but you should imagine that the ocean is right outside your door to put you at peace.

The first painter I fell in love with was with Edward Hopper at a MoMA exhibit at around 10 years old. Most of his paintings have to do with with alienation, so the fact that I find such an immediate connection with them slightly disturbs me. The way he draws you in and makes you feel like your there is something I admire. Every time I look at his painting New York Movies I experience the sadness of the woman and feel an urge to go comfort her - although impossible. You've taught me everything I know about the appreciation of art:  paintings, sculptures, symphonies, and operas, and I owe being able to see some of the worlds' greatest art to you. This painting costs about 40 million dollars, so I expect a pretty big thank you.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone or something they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 7:00 AM

Still Life with Green Soup

Fernando Botero, Still Life with Green Soup, 1972

Mi amor y Bengal bella, Dolce,

It’s almost as if Fernando Botero made this for you… 
Naturaleza Muerta con Sopa Verde es mi regalo para ti.

This particular cat embodies Botero’s signature style of “Boterismo,” just as you will while I continue to feed you fancy feast twice a day. Trust me your future sinuous form will only enhance your sublime enchantment. Even 1970s cats of surrealism gallop across dinner tables in search of a little taste. Alas, forgive me if you believe me to be calling you chubby or fat… You are simply voluminous! Botero says,

“What I say is that they are not fat, but voluminous. If I make a fruit, a landscape, an animal, a man, anything, it is a deformation to exalt volume. So I do not see them as fat, but as voluminous. Fat can also be Michelangelo, Masaccio or all Florentine art that is voluminous.”

Botero brings intense color and volume to every day activities in Latin America. He fattens is characters to give them the sensuality of form. Figures are painted lightly in the center and then darkened around the edges thereby altering the laws of perspective. So, Dolce, please continue your love for fancy feast and mischievous adventures on my dinner table… Your form remains purrrfect to me.

Meow. Meow. Tal vez este es el destino. Mi gatita voluminoso, este pintor colombiano hizo esta obra de arte para ti.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone or something they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 7:00 AM

The Young Martyr

Delaroche, The Young Martyr, 1855


Day four in Paris, my new favorite city in the entire world and we had only two days left in this glorious place. That day was Louvre Day, and I wandered the famed halls with my mother, overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of art from floor to ceiling all over this enormous place. We wandered into the crowd surrounding the Mona Lisa and slipped and slid through the masses until we could get to the front. It was beautiful, but also ugly, the way everyone flocked around it, mindlessly snapping pictures, with museum staff at the front trying to hurry people along and keep the crowd rotating. We escaped the throngs of people, turned a corner or two and found our way to a room with red walls. The hall beyond had the most glorious selection of floor to ceiling masterpieces, many of which I've now studied this year. Before I could be drawn in, my eyes caught a painting in my periphery and, as I turned to glance at it, she grabbed me. Sometimes called the "Christian Ophelia," for her resemblance to the figure in Hamlet, this tragic beauty took a piece of me right then and there.

I have never seen anything like her. She's even captivating on screen, but watching her here is nothing like being in her presence, discovering her insurmountable beauty without looking for it. Disturbing in content and composition, I would still argue that its the most hauntingly gorgeous work of art I've ever seen. Everything in the painting is dark, except for her, glowing ethereally from the water. She basks in the divine glow in the sunset of her life. The detail in the background is stunning as well. From the couple in terror, to the drifting boat, and the dying sky, there is so much to discuss about the rest of this painting, but I can't seem to take my focus off of her for more than a second. Her glowing pale skin and the perfection in her floating hair and clothes show her off as an angel, a holy being in the name of the Lord. Even in death she is effortlessly graceful in the soft waves of the water. Even though she is terribly sad, even though she is a martyr, even though this act has gone off like an explosion in the lives of those close to her, I can't help but to love her and find her beautiful.

Merry Christmas to my best friend and confident. When I helped you decorate your closet in the new house, the first thing I noticed was her on your wall. I know your last trip to Paris was less than ideal, but I hope the next time you can bask in the fantasy of my favorite city as I see it, and I hope you get to see her for real. I hope you see her beauty and remember that it's attainable to all of us in any situation, and know that the encapsulating love can exist for all of us, no matter who we are. That our every life has meaning and purpose, and that, even though I despise the idea of martyrs more than anything else, if I can still love her, than anyone can love you. Thank you for all of our late night walks and drives and trips to Heritage and advice sessions. I love you.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone or something they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 2:31 PM

Renunciation of Worldly Goods

Giotto, Renunciation of Worldly Goods, 1300

Good to see you, Giotto. I haven’t seen your 28 fresco series, The Legend of St. Francis, since last year. I distinctly remember sitting in class on a late August day in 2014, starting at grainy black and white prints surrounded by text. I didn’t know what to make of this painting, much less any others featured in our assigned reading packets. “I don’t get it,” I’d think, “What is this supposed to mean to me?” The seniors around me, Art History veterans, articulated their thoughts beautifully. It was as if they were looking at a different painting — a stunning, more meaningful piece of art.

So then I wonder, as the Art History newcomers saw Mark Rothko’s paintings at the beginning of the year, did they think the same thing? We can’t compare Rothko’s abstract expressionism with Giotto’s early Renaissance frescoes, but they do share one thing in common. We probably didn’t “get it” at first glance.

Giotto, an Italian painter, spearheaded the early Renaissance movement. Successor to Duccio and Cimabue, he primarily painted for churches. Many other Renaissance artists continued this trend, painting unique visions of biblical scenes. At first glance, I saw a primal piece of work in Renunciation of Worldly Goods. False perspective, anatomically flawed bodies, and all around stiffness plagued my eyes. Only when our class started to discuss the painting did I stop to think about how this must have looked in the 14th century. Later, we learned about the period eye, conceptualized by Michael Baxandall. Cultivating an understanding through a circumstances of the time in which it was created is an integral part of appreciating historical art. 

Needless to say, Renunciation of Worldly Goods won me over in the end. St. Francis stares off into heaven, and a reply signals down with a gentle hand. Everything, even his clothes, has been renounced in the name of God. Surrounding him, displeased townspeople, glaring at the public display. A stern looking churchman covers St. Francis, and refuses to look at the true saint before him. Despite all that makes this painting funny, weird, or just uncomfortable, there are genuine elements of humility and purity.

Dear juniors and seniors, this painting is my gift to you. Stick with Art History, be it here or in college. Though I signed up for Art History on a whim, I consider what I’ve learned here to be deeply valuable.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone or something they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 7:00 AM

Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies

Claude Monet, Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies, 1899


Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies transports me back to that early spring day when we stood on the blue bridge and admired the lilies. Back then your hand still engulfed mine. I remember you telling about the importance of this bridge. How much people loved this bridge. How much you loved this bridge. I picked this variation because of the vertical view which highlights the reflections of the water and lilies. 
We stood there just looking at ourselves in the water. Just you and me.  I want to give this painting to you.  For the moments sitting on the bench when my feet didn’t touch the ground and constantly swung back and forth like a pendulum, and you stayed still next to me. Playing into my imagination. My dreams.  I remember running around Monet’s garden, laughing at the critters, watching the lilies drift back and forth, hiding underneath the mossy trees. The coloring book you got me so I could draw my own lilies.  Monet built his garden out of nothing. He built the bridge, the pond, the lilies. He took this previously mediocre land and turned into something extraordinary. To me you represent the extraordinary. Throughout everything you come back stronger. Your ability to care about everyone but yourself astonishes me. You give me so much and expect little in return. You showed me that kindness goes further than any monetary amount. When I see this painting I think back about how young I was, and how difficult to must of been to explain everything to me.  This painting reminds me of how much I love you and how proud I am of you.  Monet painted many lilies and many bridges but this one belongs to you and me and that spring day.  I love you, Mom.

Editor's Note: Students were asked to give a painting to someone or something they cared for. These are their moving responses.
  • 7:00 AM