I remember the first time I felt truly impacted by art. I was on a class trip to Washington, D.C., and we were in the middle of a tour of the National Gallery. Along an unassuming wall amidst stunning landscape paintings was Thomas Cole’s four-part allegorical series, The Voyage of Life. In it, Cole depicted a pilgrim’s journey through childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. Each scene showed an aging man’s voyage along the River of Life and the various trials and influences to be found along the way.
What was so moving about the quartet of paintings wasn’t the weight of the brush strokes, or the way Cole used light to mesmerize the viewer and move their eye across the scene. Rather, it was the unspoken message that the paintings conveyed. Even as a young student, I sensed the urgency and eternal hope that Cole depicted in those paintings. Now, whenever I am in D.C., I make my own pilgrim’s journey back to those paintings—each time finding a new detail that adds another piece to the narrative.
That’s what is so special about art: It makes you pause, consider your own position, and it sticks with you.
In putting together this issue, I discovered something else that makes art so special. It builds community.
Our city is full of inspiring, hardworking, and creative artists, and this issue only begins to brush the surface of that community. Within these pages, you’ll read stories of veterans using art to overcome their service injuries—which you’ll find on page 49—as well as stories of art working alongside medicine to bring a new level of healing to patients. You’ll find that story on page 31. You’ll also find stories of people coming together because of art, like the LoveLYH Flea Market on page 53, and the legacy of the Academy Center of the Arts on page 62.
If you haven’t taken the time to explore the art and artists within our city, I hope this issue encourages you to. Start with a First Fridays tour of Lynchburg’s galleries, or simply pop into one that catches your eye. Visit any local coffee shop and appreciate the local art they have on display. Or even try your hand at creating art yourself at one of the many classes our city has to offer—such as the Jackson Heights Studio on page 45. At the very least, take a moment to support the artists in your own circle, whether that means buying a piece for your home or simply supporting them on social media. Our city is vibrant and alive because of them.
I hope you find a piece of art—whether it’s music, pottery, paintings, or dance—that speaks to you like The Voyage of Life did to me so many years ago. I’m grateful that I don’t have to travel to D.C. any time I am looking to be inspired by art, though—I simply need to turn a corner in our own beautiful city.
Megan Williams, Managing Editor