Sense of Sight


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Sense of sight

This week we will continue to explore our four middle senses, focusing on our sense of sight. Our sense of sight is directly connected to how we feel.  The eye, the organ of sight, is quite literally an extension of the brain out to the surface of the body.  As our eyes see and process the colors, shapes, and lights that surround us, we come to understand not just the structural organization of the outer world, but its mood as well. Our view of the world in winter, with its pale colors, cool light, and barren shapes, is very different from the view we might find in summer, full of lush shapes, earthy greens, and warm light. Through our sense of sight, we learn to translate these visual cues into moods and feelings. 

The eye is connected with most of the other senses.  For example, the capacity of balance also works through the eye as we partly keep our balance through viewing our surroundings.  The rotary movement of the eye plays into both the sense of balance and movement. We see warm and cool colors, linking to our sense of touch. Take a moment to think about how the external world, interpreted through your sense of sight, affects your other senses and directs your emotions. How does it feel when you are in a stark white room versus a brightly colored one? Sitting in the park versus sitting in front of a computer? Walking down a busy street versus speaking to a single person? As we learn to be mindful and intentional with the colors, shapes, and lights that our children encounter each day through their sight, we can help them develop balanced emotional understandings of both themselves and the world. 


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The Unseen Seer: Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint, the artist at the center of The Guggenheim Museum’s current exhibit, “Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future,” developed an acute sense of sight that served to inspire and direct her vast body of work. Born in Sweden in 1862 to a naval commander father, Hilma grew up surrounded by water and the outdoors and cultivated a love of nature and botany from an early age. She attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm at the age of twenty, where she met the first of the four women with whom she would later form "The Five" (de Fem), a group of artists who incorporated spiritual practices, channeling, and philosophical ideals into their work. As remembered by Johan af Klint, her grandnephew who is now in his seventies, Hilma was “very kind… reserved but not a recluse.” She had intensely blue eyes. She was a vegetarian and always wore black. She was only about five feet tall and painted all of her full scale works on the ground. Like her father, who made naval maps of land and sea, she too was intricately documenting the world she saw. “She was a cartographer of spirit.”

Hilma af Klint at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, approx. 1885.

Hilma af Klint at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, approx. 1885.

Hilma af Klint, The Swan, No. 14

Hilma af Klint, The Swan, No. 14

As an adult, Hilma became deeply involved in spiritualism and Theosophy, which were becoming popular across Europe and the United States, especially in literary and artistic circles. She joined The Theosophical Society Adyar when it was established in Sweden in 1895, and remained a member until 1915.

During regular meetings with The Five she would channel what she described as the “High Masters,” spiritual entities who, in 1904, bestowed her with a mission to create “The Paintings for the Temple,” the collection that now occupies most of the Guggenheim show. Klint’s grandniece, Gurli Lindén, described the women in the group as “educated and trained in the ability to create a message for the future in writing as well as in painting. This resulted in the ability to paint under leadership from a higher power.” According to Hilma’s journals, this divine mission included precise instruction to paint “an astral plane” and depict the “immortal aspects of man.” “This became the great commission,” she wrote, “which I carried out in my life.” She went on to create 193 paintings during the period from 1906 to 1915, at times producing one painting every fifth day. “I had no idea what they were supposed to depict… I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brush stroke.”

The Paintings for the Temple were created in series of groups and subgroups that drew from Hilma’s knowledge of mathematics and botany. The abstract series have been deemed by critics as strikingly diverse, incorporating both biomorphic and geometric forms, expansive and intimate scales, and maximalist and reductive approaches to composition and color. They also incorporate a unique language of symbols that allegedly only became clear to Hilma as the project progressed. She took it upon herself to become a scholar of her own work, studying and piecing together over time a precise lexicon to decode the symbols, which included spirals (evolution), U (the spiritual world), W (matter), discs (unity), yellow and roses (masculinity), and blue and lilacs (femininity). 

As The Hilma af Klint Foundation in Stockholm describes, through this work Hilma came to understand “that reality is not confined to the mere physical world; she was convinced that in parallel with the material world lies an inner one, and that the contents of the inner dimensions are exactly as true and real as are those of the outer one. In order to convey this message, she made use of symbols, letters and words. By means of employing dualistic symbols, Hilma af Klint expressed that ‘Everything is Unity’.”

Hilma af Klint, The Swan, No. 12

Hilma af Klint, The Swan, No. 12

Hilma af Klint, The Swan, No. 18

Hilma af Klint, The Swan, No. 18

In July of 1908 Hilma met the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, then the leader of the Theosophical Society in Germany. Although Steiner questioned Hilma’s mediumistic role while painting, he respected her as a philosophical seeker and gave the following feedback: the world would not be ready to view her work for another 50 years. When Hilma died in 1944 at the age of 81, she stipulated in her will that her life’s work - 1,300 paintings and 26,000 pages of notes and sketchbooks - should not be shown until at least 20 years after her death. While some believe that Steiner’s advice may have played a part in this wish, her writings indicate that she came to the decision through spiritual guidance. She distinctly envisioned The Paintings for the Temple being exhibited as one unified collection in a future temple: a nearly circular, white, four-story building connected by a central spiral staircase. The structure, she believed, would be imbued with a “certain power and calm.” 

As she wished, her work was stored away for decades. It was first shown internationally in 1986 as part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s show, “The Spiritual in Art.” In MoMA’s monumental show of 2012, “Inventing Abstraction: 1910-1925,” Hilma af Klint was notably excluded. Only now, 75 years after her death, are The Paintings for the Temple being internationally exhibited in their entirety. Interestingly, The Guggenheim Museum, with its spiraling form, circular white walkways, and domed skylight, was once described by its designer Frank Lloyd Wright as a “temple of the spirit.”

Hilma af Klint Foundation: https://www.hilmaafklint.se/hilma-af-klint-foundation/

New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/22/hilma-af-klints-visionary-paintings

Guggenheim Museum: https://www.guggenheim.org/exhibition/hilma-af-klint

-Belle Savransky

March Parent Evenings

Juniper, Willow, & Maple
TONIGHT! Wednesday, March 13
6:30-8:30pm

Louise deForest will join all three early childhood lead teachers on the topic of "Setting Boundaries."

Grades 1, 2, & 3
Wednesday, March 20
6:30-8:30pm


SAVE THE DATE

Parent/Teacher Conference Day (SCHOOL CLOSED)
Friday, March 15
Please sign up for a time slot with your class teacher.

Coffee Friday
Friday, March 15
8:30-9:30am

Good coffee. Good conversation. Downstairs after drop-off.

Monday Morning Eurythmy Mini-Session (for Parents!)
Monday, March 18
8:30-8:45am

A quick 15-minute eurythmy session with Brigida to start your week.

Monday Book Club
Monday, March 18
8:45-9:45am

Kim John Payne Lecture: The Overwhelm of Boys
Thursday, March 21
7:00-9:00pm



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NEW!

SATURDAY MOVEMENT + MINDFULNESS 

A SPECIAL CLASS FOR AGES 3-7

SATURDAYS (3/23-4/13) 11:00AM - 12:00PM

($80, 4 CLASSES)

Led by Danyelle Vilmenay, students flow through an imaginative journey of interactive storytelling and renewing yoga poses while practicing peaceful movements, calming techniques, and gratitude. At the end of every class, students use fine motor skills to create beautiful origami art, which promotes hands-on focus and mimics nature.


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Donate your gently used children’s clothing and shoes, baby clothing, and maternity wear as we prepare for our annual spring clothing sale, a benefit for El Jardin Garden. Drop off in the lobby.

Please drop off by next Friday, March 15


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Congratulations Annie and Julian, parents of Quincy in Ms. Kaori’s class. Welcome to the world baby Harper!


In The News

We tend, as adults, to overplan and overstructure young people’s experiences,” Dr. Beghetto said. While structure is important, he said, so is “letting kids determine their own problems to solve, their own ways to solve them.”

From The New York Times article, “Using Arts Education to Help Other Lessons Stick.”


Summer waldorf courses

for Teachers and Parents

June 23-July 5

Wilton, New Hampshire

centerforanthroposphy.org


AMAZON SMILE

Did you know that your Amazon purchases could be raising funds for our school? Shop through Amazon Smile to easily help our school:

1. Go to smile.amazon.com

2. Choose New Amsterdam School as your selected charity

3. Shop as normal and a percentage of what you spend is automatically donated to our school! 


Belle Savransky