Back to CMA Stories

Guest Post: High Schooler Julia Miller

May 12, 2015

Who wouldn’t want to be a Victorian lady, wrapped in the finest silk and chiffon? (Well, actually, if you believe in women’s rights, pants, and anti-child labor laws, quite a few people. But that’s a different essay.) The women in Charles Courtney Curran’s paintings look seductively perfect and pristine: they have smooth skin, beautifully coiffed hair, and are outfitted in the latest fashions. It’s easy to envy these women, and after seeing the CMA’s exhibit I was definitely daydreaming a little bit.

However, I then attended a lecture at the CMA that talked about Curran’s portrayal of beauty. The lecture inspired me to write my final English paper on the similarities between Curran’s paintings and several classic works of literature. The most obvious parallel was between Curran’s paintings and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, in which a beautiful young man ( think Chris Fine - I mean, Pine) gains a portrait of himself. He wishes that he will never age and will always posses his youth and beauty, and his wish is granted; but in time, his very soul becomes hardened and corrupted.

It was an interesting and fun challenge to write my paper on not just art or literature, but a combination thereof. Hearing the lecture inspired me to look at art a bit differently. So next time you’re at the CMA, start thinking about the way visual art can connect to other forms of art. Maybe a sculpture reminds you of a dance performance you once saw. Maybe a landscape makes you think of a piece of music. Art connects to other kinds of art - that’s what makes it so interesting!