How "Hurrying Got It's Name

Waiting for the purple paint to dry and making the final yellow brushstroke to complete my maze painting took up a lot of time. The pressure was on to finish and clean up so the next kindergardener could take a turn. I had no time to linger and look at the work. The newsprint was unclipped by Mrs. Powell and taken somewhere to dry.

Painting was part of our weekly routine. We made one painting a week. On Friday the painting was folded into quarters and all of our "work" from the week was stuffed inside. That Friday I looked forward to getting my painting back and sharing my Thanksgiving memories with my mother but it was not sent home, I got only loose papers.

Then one day shortly after the holidays I was called out of the class with a few other students and taken into a room where lots of paintings were laid out on desks. Work was being collected for an art show to be held in the spring and I my maze painting was going to be in it! When I saw the work again I paused for a moment, wondering if it was really my painting. Seeing the yellow over purple brushstroke triggered and solidified my memory. The same trigger occurs now whenever I see the painting.

The fact that the painting was not folded into quarters gave relief to a tension I didn't know I had. Mrs. Powell had pulled the work aside. It was pristine.

The woman organizing the show walked over to look at the painting with me and asked me what I wanted to call it. I didn't know so I mumbled, "Call it "Maze." "Huh?", she said "What?" "Maze," I said. She paused, "Why don't we call it 'Hurrying'?!" I am silent, confused. "Because it looks like people hurrying," she said as she gestured, trying to sell the idea to me. I was stunned. What was she talking about? Didn't she see the maze?

What concerned me was how someone else could see the painting so differently; could have made up her own totally different story. When she pointed out what looked to her like people hurrying, I experienced a visual figure ground reversal. The purple walls of the maze became the space surrounding yellow stick figures.

I laughed when I saw the figures. They *did* kind of look like people hurrying. I agreed to the title, much to the relief of the organizer, because I felt like she really wanted to call it "Hurrying" and I could easily keep the maze image hidden for myself inside the painting.

I noticed for the first time how a painting's title primes a viewer's perception; so much so that I could not convince my father that I had a maze in mind at all when I painted it. To most viewers, it is a picture of people hurrying.

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