When Yale made the announcement that the school was going to offer a free audit of its most popular class, The Science of Well-Being taught by Dr. Laurie Santos, I jumped on it. Not because I miss lectures or taking notes or I need some way to fill these days of Safer at Home, but because what I have learned in the past 2 years is that my happiness is inextricably linked to where the Army sends us. And I’m not the only one. That’s why Army posts like Fort Polk, Fort Bliss, Fort Hunter Liggitt, and Fort Drum are considered, for many, bottom-of-the-list options. A lot of people either thrive or die on the vine based on where they are planted. But after 2 years of living like that, I’ve decided that maybe there’s a better way. Perhaps we can be sent anywhere and I will be able to draw from some eternal, internal spring of happiness and gratitude. I’m pretty angry and annoyed about everything right now, so a spring of happiness is probably just what the doctor ordered.
The first week of class, we were instructed to complete 1 of 2 happiness surveys. I took them both, just in case I did one wrong. That’s probably some indicator of my happiness, or at least my OCD, right there. And then we were assigned a 120-question character assessment. As it turns out, my strongest characteristic is curiosity and I feel that being surrounded by beauty is vital to life – whether it’s a field of flowers or something hand-painted. So, with that in mind, I’m taking you to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Now, I know when you hear Bentonville, you think one thing: WALMART. And some of you will get a shiver because…I mean…WALMART. But the Walton Family Foundation’s dream of creating an art museum for all (free admission makes it truly for all) on their family land was realized in the best possible way. Although they obviously had to clear some of the woods that Alice Walton recalls exploring with her brothers as a child, they did try to nestle the museum in a natural setting. They’ve intentionally designed a space that unites human creativity with divine creation.
I was going to give you a little background on each piece, but I’ve decided to just post the pictures and you can see it through your own lens, without any navigation from me.
Man on a Bench by Duane Hanson
Rosie the Riveter by Norman Rockwell
Blackwell’s Island by Edward Hopper
Summertime by Mary Cassatt
The Reader by Mary Cassatt
Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife by John Singer Sargent
The Bubble by Harriet Frishmuth
Depression Bread Line by George Segal
Big Red Lens by Fred Eversley
Art tucked into the Ozarks
You can see more of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art here.