Tag Archives: Boston MFA

Contributing to the Conversation

A lesson from Kit White: how creating art adds to the historic dialogue.


Art is a continuing dialogue that stretches back through thousands of years.
– Kit White [1]

My favorite spot to visit in Boston is the Museum of Fine Arts. This place has numerous opportunities to get lost in rooms full of spectacular artwork. While wandering through the MFA I have discovered art from around the world, which many times has traveled to this place and time over hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years. The last trip to the museum offered the chance to see a new exhibit, “Samurai! Armor From the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection,” and I acted on some inspiration to draw–this was my first time drawing at the museum–some of the samurai armor on display.

While I was drawing quietly in front of a magnificent suit of armor (shown above) an art student from a local university came over to see the sketch. He seemed very thoughtful and interested, so I offered him a pencil and paper. This offer was eagerly accepted and we both sat quietly working for the next ten minutes or so. After finishing the drawing he gave a sincere thanks and went on to explore the rest of the collection.

There were many objects that caught my attention, and by the end of the exhibit the original sheet of paper was filled with a half-dozen sketches.  I was sitting on a bench in front of the final display when an older gentleman came over to chat. He had trouble talking and hearing, but it was surprisingly easy for us to connect over the beauty of the samurai exhibition. As the conversation gradually came to a close  it  became apparent in my mind that this man should have the drawings. The gift was happily accepted.

The opportunity to connect over artwork with strangers at the MFA reminded me of a lesson from Kit White in the book 101 Things to Learn in Art School. Art is the opportunity to make “…your contribution to that dialogue. Therefore, be conscious of what has come before you and the conversation that surrounds you.” [1]

Jason Freeman is the founder of Work of Start.

1. Kit White. 101 Things to Learn in Art School (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2011), 16.