Ghosts and Nirvana

I saw two amazing exhibits at the Morris Museum this week. One was pure temptation; the other a hidden treasure. The first exhibit was The Shoe Must Go On. For a small museum, it was a great collection. Baby, designer, historical, sports. There were representations of the earliest forms of shoes in various parts of the world, to shoes of famous people—even the “boot” that Sonya Sotomayor wore around the Capitol building while meeting with various Senators during her nomination period. I saw shoes with feathers, beads, jewels and silk. There were shoes that were used with foot binding in China. For a shoe lover like me, every possible type of shoe was there to be drooled over. But the best pair of shoes, hands down, were the chocolate ones. That’s right. Shoes. Made. Of . Chocolate. Filled with chocolate too. Scrumptiously amazing.

 As I wandered, in awe, out of that exhibit, I walked into another gallery that left me speechless. It was a photography exhibit entitled, Shadow and Memory: Ellis Island’s Unrestored Buildings, and featured the photography of Christopher Barnes. He photographed the deserted hospital buildings on the island in the 1980s and again twenty years later, when a few of them had been cleaned and stabilized. His photographs were awesome. As I walked around the gallery, I could almost hear the patients, doctors and nurses who inhabited those buildings so long ago. I could almost imagine the fear of my relatives who arrived on Ellis Island and hoped not to be sent there. The photographs lived and breathed. What struck me the most was how alive those photos seemed in comparison to the historical photos that were next to them of actual patients, doctors and nurses. None of those subjects had as much vitality as an abandoned desk, a peeling window, an ivy-covered toilet.

 The exhibits were truly a juxtaposition of life and art.

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