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The Art of Seeing My Visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Michelangelo Exhibit
As a student at East Rockaway High School, I took an art class taught by Mrs. Palmeri, a wonderful teacher. She apparently saw some potential in the drawings and paintings I turned in, because she encouraged me to keep a daily sketchbook. She tasked me with a minimum of three completed drawings a week. Her hope was that I would hone my skills and sharpen my observations of the world around me. Mrs. Palmeri told me that learning to draw was really learning to “see.” She said that trained artists notice and appreciate things in their surroundings that others might not. I realized that this was very much like what I had learned while studying music: Trained musicians notice things in what they hear that others do not. Similarly, my training in audiology has taught me that good listeners catch nuances in the sounds and words they hear that bad listeners might not notice. I took Mrs. Palmeri’s sketchbook assignment seriously. Some weekends, I would make my way to the local park, sit down on a comfortable bench, and start drawing whatever in my surroundings caught my eye. I sketched grass swaying in the wind, old trees, and people milling around on sunny days. When I visited my grandparents in the Bronx, I attempted to depict the overlooked charm of the architecture of the surrounding apartment buildings and the personalities of the people walking by. Everything around me became a subject. I found that this practice not only made me
better at putting my pencil to paper, it actually sharpened my experience of the world. I began to appreciate small details of my environment, and everything became charged with beauty and fascination for me. That ability to focus my attention is a skill I have found valuable in life. Though I have not been drawing much lately, I often find myself seeking visual art. Last January, I had the pleasure of attending the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s once-in-a-lifetime exhibit featuring one of my favorite artists: Michelangelo. His life and work have always intrigued me. If you come into my office,
Dr. Larry and a Michelangelo sketch
and struggling to find the best way to compose the finished work. In some ways, I found this evidence of hard work more fascinating than his finished masterpieces. Michelangelo once said, “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.” Knowing that this was the attitude of a true master encourages me to work hard at what I do, whether it’s my work to help people overcome hearing difficulties or in leisure pursuits like art. Recently, I was speaking about my old sketches with one of my patients who used to teach art classes for senior citizens. She encouraged me to take up drawing again. While I will never be as adept as Michelangelo, engaging with and making art are valuable pursuits that can give us a new perspective on the world around us and enrich our daily lives.
you will see a casting of the left ear of Michelangelo’s famous statue, David, on my bookshelf.
From Dr Larry’s high school sketch book
One of the things I found most interesting about this particular exhibit of Michelangelo’s work was that there were many sketches on display that he produced in preparation for some of his famous works, like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. In these sketches, one can see the master artist experimenting with ideas
–Lawrence Cardano, Au.D.
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