VoL- Video

By Kwesi Billups

As I perused the works exhibited within the National Gallery of Art, I found myself amazed at the technical quality of the pieces, and impressed with the extensive collection of artwork spanning centuries of content material. However, while I found the many of the National Gallery’s collected works impressive, I hardly felt moved to emotion or deep thought by what I had seen at the outset. Initially, what stood out to me most were massive canvas paintings, depicting meticulously detailed natural landscapes, or works rendering tragic stories of death and abandonment. But, when I walked into a room that housed only four works of art, I was confused, curious as to why an entire exhibit would contain only four paintings. Immediately, I was drawn to the image of a man, floating on an open ocean on a gilded boat, hands and eyes fixed towards an angelic being. I turned to the written description next to the piece to gain more insight into its meaning, only to learn that the illustration was but one painting in Thomas Cole’s 1842 four-part series, The Voyage of Life. Cole’s Voyage spoke to me in ways that I couldn’t have imagined, depicting the birth of man and his subsequent interactions with time, space, and faith through vivid imagery and striking technique. I edited and published a video to better capture my experience of the series that includes Cole’s descriptions of his pieces. You can watch it here:


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