Viewer Voices: The Source of Our Flame

[Editor s Note—The artwork being referenced in this article is Dusk, Maxfield Parrish, 1942, 13 1/4 x 15 1/4,” oil on canvas, New Britain Museum of American Art, Art © Maxfield Parrish Family, LLC/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NYDusk, by Maxfield Parrish, was featured in The Yankee Spirit: Highlights from the New Britain Museum of American Art, which was on display at the BYU Museum of Art from July 1 to October 29, 2011. To view this image from the collection of the New Britain Museum of American Art, please click here.]

While wandering the MOA with my writing class, it took me some time to settle on a piece to ponder. I was initially tempted by Haberle s Time and Eternity, the only piece covered with a sheet of glass to protect its images from grubby, curious hands. I flirted with Lawson s Spring Tapestry, with its genius play figure and ground and its sweet notes of my Virginia home. My final infatuation was with Brian Kershisnik s Nativity, a stunning piece that dominated the MOA s religious exhibition. Active and fluid, the piece had both an artistic and spiritual depth I knew I could write about. However, two other classmates were already absorbed in Nativity, and I wanted to find something that sang to me alone.

Dusk s electric sky pulled me in. With colors almost acidic in their intensity, I felt a chill encroach on the cabin as the sun sank through this Maxfield Parrish s work. Taking a closer look, its near-photorealism struck me. The house with its precise angles, the birch bark, chipping and worn, and that snow, glowing with an otherworldly sheen of orange, green and purple. Smoke wafted out of the brick chimney and into the freezing air. Somewhere, someone was warming fingers by firelight.

While Spring Tapestry by Earnest Lawson glimpsed into my past, Dusk hints at my future. It s in my blood to prefer cold to warm. My mother, like many, gets depressed when the seasons change. However, it s not the falling leaves and threatening chill that affect her—it s the melting snow. As the world awakens from a real Virginia freeze, she mourns evenings of coziness by firelight. I fall into a similar vein. Though my feelings don t fluctuate with the seasons, I ve always preferred cold summers to warm winters. I fantasize about a someday residence in a northern corner of the US—preferably in the rugged hills of Maine or Vermont. Toasty and secluded, I will be satisfied in a victory over the elements. And who knows? Maybe one day I will share this victory with someone. We will sip hot cocoa and glimpse the Northern Lights outside our orange-lit window, secure and shielded from the storm.

— Bronwen Hale is an Honors student at Brigham Young University.

What images or sculptures at the BYU Museum of Art have affected you and how? Send your 300 -500 word responses to, and you could be published on the MOA blog.