I miss travel. No, I don’t miss the crowded airports, the delayed departures, the missed connections, or the lost luggage. I miss the experience of discovering a city for the first time, tasting new and delicious foods, and learning about unfamiliar languages and cultures.
I also miss art. I miss encountering painting, music, architecture, and sculpture, as I do when I am traveling. For me, exploring museums, visiting cultural sites, and attending concerts are all such important parts of travel.
In the day-to-day work-from-home life that we are all now living, I often find myself reminiscing about the many rich cultural experiences I have enjoyed over the years during my travels. Although my cultural travel nostalgia encompasses many pleasurable memories, for now it has a bittersweet edge. It seems likely that it will be many, many months before we may once again travel freely.
I decided that if none of us can travel for now, we can at least share our memories. We can reminisce together. Here’s what I propose.
I have set out below pictures of and notes about some of my favorite cultural travel memories, to share them with readers but also to encourage readers to send me pictures and thoughts of their own about their favorite or most important cultural travel memories. Please send me pictures of your own travel encounters with art — painting, music, architecture, and sculpture. Even literature or drama, if you have pictures that capture your encounter. I will select the best pictures and publish them in future post(s), “best” being a measure of the photographs and descriptions that most creatively or interestingly capture the experience.
The great thing about cultural experiences while traveling is that precisely because you are away from home and outside your familiar surroundings and activities, it is possible to perceive even familiar artistic works in a new, thought-provoking way. What this affords is not only an appreciation for design, execution, and detail, but even artistic meaning and purpose.
There is also something to be said for encountering directly the original of an artwork of which you have often seen many copies.
Truly great art will also challenge you, particularly when it take unfamiliar or unaccustomed forms.
Of course, one of the most important parts of travel is the experience of discovery, and of encounter with the unexpected.
Sometimes you find the art somewhere other than where you expected to find it, even when you were actively looking for it.
The visual arts of course also include sculpture, which, though static, can convey movement as well as form and depth.
The most important part of experiencing visual art is learning how to see, how to slow down your vision so that you see all of it, both the constituent parts and the work as a whole. If you can slow your vision down, you can see both how the art was put together and also perhaps glimpse the inner meaning as well.
As much as I enjoy the visual arts, I think I enjoy the performing arts even more, especially live musical performances. There is something about the energy and interpretation of the performer that captures my own imagination. I have been fortunate to attend some great musical performances while traveling over the years, including quite a number in truly fabulous venues.
Sometimes the venue can enhance the music and contribute to the relationship between the performer and the audience.
While there are a number of venues that can enhance the audience experience, a few can even allow for actual intimacy between the audience and the performer.
While different building structures can have differing effects on the audience, by far the most moving and memorable musical performance I attended while traveling did not involve a building at all.
My cultural traveling memories include many more events and experiences. I could go on and on and on, with many more examples from many different times and places. Indeed, while I was reviewing my photo files as part of the process of pulling this post together, I disappeared into the pictures and the related memories for an entire afternoon. Limiting myself to just the few pictures above was very difficult for me.
I hope my pictures and notes encourage readers to go back through their own travel experiences and review their pictures, and I hope that many readers will be encouraged to send their pictures along to me for possible publication in future blog post(s). If you do decide to submit some pictures, please include your name and company affiliation, as well as a brief description of the circumstances under which you took the picture and why the experience was meaningful to you. Please send your pictures to my work email mailbox at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am looking forward to seeing readers’ pictures. We may not be able to travel right now, but we can at least share our travel memories.