LivingArts: Agoraphobia


I am not a people person.  Too many people at once makes me tired.  I know how that sounds.  It’s an odd thing for an educator to say, but it’s true. 

Not too long ago I was fortunate to be able to spend a few days on my own in New York City while attending a conference.  So many people!  The streets held little interest for me, and I soon retreated to the comfort of the museum.  It was also filled with people, but there it didn’t seem to matter.

On this trip, I was travelling alone.  I didn’t have to worry about anyone else’s interests or schedule and it was blissful.  I spent two full days at the Met, and two at MoMA.  I walked and walked and walked.  I sat for half an hour in the Monet Waterlilies room looking at two paintings.  I visited the El Anatsui installation and two Rauschenberg pieces four times.  I discovered that while I am not crazy about David Smith as a painter, I really like his sculpture.  There was a feeling of energy and flow in a museum that I don’t feel anywhere else.  For me, this is the feeling of making connections to the world around me.  I can saw the artist’s brushstrokes, or the finger prints left in a sculpture, I can see the process in the finished piece.  I saw some of those artworks that I had previously only seen in photos and it was thrilling.

Luckily I realized a long time ago that for me it’s all about the art.  I love what I do.  That’s the energy that people feel from me at work.  While many of my more outgoing friends get fired up on the interpersonal dynamics of working with people, I do not.  I thrive on being immersed in a gallery setting, being surrounded by amazing and inspiring things.  Despite my inner introvert, I love giving tours - I can share what I love with others, talking about art, asking questions and encouraging others to look a little more carefully, think a little more critically and consider the world in a new way.  

There has been lots of press on ‘the introvert’ of late, and it’s funny to me to see how many people have jumped into that group – lots of my artist friends, in fact.  I’m a different person when I’m in a museum than at a party or social gathering, and I’m okay with that.  The trick of it is to find what you love and the rest will work itself out.