Rothko Chapel

7:00 AM

Mark Rothko, Rothko Chapel, 1971
By ELLIE SCHNEIDER

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.

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