Veronica's blue chair

Almost without fail, the way this thing happened was that the student, bringing in work from an exercise, as my students did every week in response to some request from me, would at first keep something back, not want to show it. Sometimes it was intentional; they did not want to show it. Sometimes they forgot about it; it seemed too insignificant. Sometimes it was too vulnerable, too embarrassing to them.

But I could smell this thing happening. And when I did, I would urge, tease it out, say, no, please, that is just the one I want to see, please show it to us.

Then, often shyly, the person would bring this thing out. And that particular thing would turn out to be something remarkable, egoless, beautiful, the stuff I was looking for. I would pin it on the wall, and say, that one, that one after all, is the best of what we have today, that one is really worthwhile, that is the thing I am trying to teach you how to do.

The reason this happened so many times is because of cause and effect. It was just because it was too vulnerable, and the maker knew it, that it was not brought out; or because it might be laughed at; or because it was so far from the beaten track, so utterly without pretension, that it was truly invisible to the person who made it, and he or she really did not know that it was good.

Of course, deep down, they always knew, and they flushed to the roots of their hair when I praised it, and pinned it up, and made everyone look at it, and called forth the shining quality it had, because it was so artless.

And the sketch itself, indeed, it had a nearly heart-stopping quality, something that reminded one of everything, childhood, essence, all wrapped up into one. And yet it was not childish at all.

(Page 274)

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