The Color Yellow: Sunflowers

7:00 AM

Vincent Van Gogh, Sunflowers, 1888
The Color Yellow

You walk down the street and a wiff of a horse and you are transported back to your riding days with your faithful Bugs. Colors and smells tug at you just as sights do. For me the color yellow represents the best and worst of life. In yellow I see, no I feel Trevor. I feel his eyes, his laugh, and his bright smile. I feel his wheelchair, his frustration, and his pain. 

With these works we will travel through pieces that utilize yellow to encompass natural, artificial, and complex feelings. There will be no discussion of the beauty of a sunset, a bumblebee, or mustard curd here. Instead an appreciation for a pigment that when everything seemed to be crumble, pulled me in and made me feel safe again. 

The color yellow helped me to understand my brother, his situation, and my own place in the whole mess. 

So like any great story let’s start with the beginning - Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

Sunflowers with its distinct lines finds the individual beauty in differences. I know that an appreciation for diversity may seem cliche, but hear me out. A kid in a wheelchair or with a mental disability isn’t a quota to be filled in a classroom, and Van Gogh helped solidify that for as a kid. The mix of wilted, blooming and developed flowers hints at the different stages of personal development. Individuals exist in a flux between wilting and blooming. The ebbs and flows of life. No matter what your mental or physical capacity you take joy and find sadness in things. Simple.

Van Gogh tackles humanity, creating harmony out of chaos by painting all the flowers in different shades of yellow. The yellow hues represent a sense of humanity felt by all, something intangible but strictly human. With the sunflowers placed almost haphazardly in the vase we see the unpredictabe beauty of life. You cannot manufacture it. The overlapping and crowdedness of the vase, the absence of a single stem indicates although distinct the flowers arose the same way. “A cut from the same cloth” vibe. 

Bursting with metaphors for acceptance, the beauty of diversity, and resounding love Van Gogh’s Sunflowers makes an argument for humanity. A subtle argument unlike the almost preach-like one you heard at the Kindergarten round-up rug. Not an obligated appreciation for difference but a celebration of it. 

Until he died, I did not see Trevor as disabled. I saw him as my older brother. Witnessing his daily struggle helped me to realize the individual battles that people fight. I cannot pretend to know what it felt like to be him, but I tried. I developed a sense of empathy, and I realized that he exists as a sunflower in Van Gogh’s vase as do I. Such a bond, such a connection, well, nothing can destroy that - not even death. 

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