I love how this painting captures a moment from a different place and possibly a different time, but a moment which we understand perfectly. I think sometimes when we read or hear about those different times and places, we forget how similar the people’s lives actually were to what we live now. It’s so easy to look at the differences–the lack of technology, the clothing styles, the simpler times–and assume that the people were simpler, too. History books are written dryly, and we take it for granted that life was exactly as those texts portray. Few engaging interactions and not much sense of the emotional are characteristics which plague such accounts. But…they’re about people. Individuals, each of whom had a life and a story, adventures, joys, griefs. I think this painting captures that beautifully. It may be about today, and it may be about the past; but either way, its setting is one with which many of us aren’t familiar. The setting only. We wholly relate to the moment because it’s one which so many of us have lived–and each of us in a different way.
There’s something of a mystery as to the subject of the photos with which these women are captivated. Perhaps it’s a brother at war or a boy they all like. Whatever it is, they’ve all eagerly hastened together to study it. Some passion has driven them. They’ve got a story, and this painting only just opens the door a crack. There’s so much more there; we’re left to imagine most of it. All we’re given is an invitation to enter into the moment, to catch a glimpse of their lives and their story. To remember that everyone has a story.