When I was nine, I moved away from my mom in New Mexico to live with my aunt in New York City.
At the time, I was dealing with the changes and fears that a young girl going through puberty 1,971 miles away from her mom can undergo: I began developing breasts, I got my first period, I had night terrors during which I relived a traumatic episode I’d experienced as a child.
I was vehemently grinding my teeth at night, much to the chagrin of my dentist. That’s when it became evident that I needed guidance. But I was utterly lost as to where to and it.
Coming from a family of artists, I was brought to museums from the moment
I could walk. Yet despite art being a constant through my life, I had never truly understood it.
Regarding Warhol, for example, what was all the commotion over a Campbell’s Soup can?
Then, during the year that followed the move to New York, I spent a week-long trip with my mom visiting Florida. While there, she felt it was important to take me to the Dali Museum.
I approached the museum no differently than any other I had encountered before. Yet what I gained that day left me with much more.
Salvador Dali’s intricate paintings were strange, whimsical, and slightly o -kilter, and I was able to find myself in all of it.
Surrealism, Dali’s style, was an avant- garde movement that was influenced
by the work of Sigmund Freud, whose writings on the importance of dreams and imagination, for example, persuaded the art world to pursue the subliminal pieces of us -- fear and other emotions -- that society had cast away.
Looking at the works of art, I felt my burdens slowly being lifted. The desires I was taught to regard as shameful were replicated on canvas and being praised from people everywhere.
The parts of me that I had suppressed were now understood. The anger I felt no longer isolated me.
For many, the power of art is constrained by the notion that it is no more than an aesthetic pleasure.
It’s not that art gives us a set of instructions to behave by. Instead, it can slow us down, allowing a space for reflection and for confronting our thoughts head-on.
Now, whenever I feel conflicted and in need of resolution, I can find what I need within that precious place.
This article was prepared in collaboration with 826 Boston.