When I was a seventeen-year-old studying art at New York’s Fiorello La Guardia High School of Music and the Arts, I experienced what some make call a “spiritual” (or “mystical” “religious” or what some may even consider a “psychotic”) event.
Whatever one calls it, it was an event so intensely compelling and profound as to guide me from my time as a moody emotional teen art student through the various messes I’d make in my life in the following half century.

Using word, image and animation* I’ve attempted over the years to sensuously describe this as it happened to me. I haven’t yet succeeded, and I won’t duplicate those attempts here. Perhaps ‘ineffable’ is the only word applicable.

For some, such an event happens in a desert, forest, monastery or on the road to Damascus. For me it occurred in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as I gazed on the massive painting, The Horse Fair.

The artist was Rosa Bonheur. She was a French artist of the Nineteenth Century born in 1822. March 16 is her birthday. She primarily painted animals, but was also a realist sculptor. There is much to be said about the person of Rosa Bonheur in her historical, social as well as artistic roles.  Perhaps I’ll say more about her in the near future.

If an artist could make such a painting that could swallow up the viewer and deposit them at heaven’s door, then I wanted to learn to make such paintings – the thought took root in my psyche that day fifty-one years ago. I haven’t succeeded at that yet, either.

But thank you, Rosa, for being the channel through which I received this lifetime quest; and thank you to the City of New York and LaGuardia High School for the monthly museum passes that allowed me and other students to experience such bliss. Educators take note – art changes lives.

Please write and tell me about your spiritual and psychic encounters with the ineffable.

*When I was a graphic design student at California State University Monterey Bay, my emphasis was in digital animation. In this video from more than a decade ago I took advantage of a class project for one such attempt to describe my experience as sensuous and immediate.

André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons