Brains, Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Brains, Blood, Sweat, and Tears

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Brains, Blood, Sweat, and Tears

“You can accomplish anything with thought and hard work” – Justin Craig-Kuhn

To overcome obstacles is human. When something stands in our way, it’s “Give me liberty or give me death!” in many cases. No matter how difficult a project may seem, hard work and determination will pull us through (or at least, that’s what we tell ourselves). In many cases, it turns out that we do pull through, beating the odds, feeling a great sense of accomplishment in the process. A case and point of this would be the technological and architectural marvels modern humanity has created. Indeed, this is exactly what is represented in these two works.

Memorial Bridge seems to capture the essence of human effort. This nearly impressionistic piece depicts a scene in which workers are constructing a bridge in the foreground. Receding into the horizon is what looks to be a highly industrialized city (for 1932) , with smoke rising into the air from factory smokestacks. The fact that parts of this piece seem to be painted in an impasto fashion, coupled with the rather bland colors that make up the piece, leads to the idea of “slow but steady” movement. Indeed, when I look at this piece, I feel as though I am included in this group of workers, helping them to overcome the obstacle of constructing this bridge. If the background goes to show what this city has already accomplished, the foreground tells me that the work is still in progress. In fact, I am led to the idea that our work is “never done”; we continually strive for bigger and bigger challenges. Only our blood, sweat, and tears stand in the way of great material accomplishments.

The second painting, by Peters, also represents the idea of human effort. The technique used to paint this picture seems to be very calculated, but simple, hinting that this tectonic painting is about the mind. The huge suspension bridge that is shown seems to disappear into the vastness of the blue sky, reminding me of the old saying “The sky’s the limit”, even though this no longer holds true (the picture’s point exactly!). This directly leads to the conclusion that this piece is about the abilities of the human mind to overcome problems. The suspension bridge was a rather new invention at the time this piece was painted, leading me to believe that Peters probably looked on this architectural giant as we would look at a space shuttle today (i.

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e. a modern marvel) . Unlike the previous piece, no physical work is being shown here, leading me to believe that brains, not brawn, is what this piece most emphasizes. It represents the place that the rational human mind has in the Universe. Indeed, this bridge stretches off into the infinite through the open expanse of the sky, pointing ahead to the fact that there is no limit to human thought and accomplishment.

These two pictures have a very lofty idea of what human accomplishment is about. Even though the human race has known many failures, these pieces tell us to continue on, to keep solving “unsolvable” problems. The encourage us to reach for the infinite.
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