What piece of art changed your life? How did it affect you?
Some experiences of great art are electric, dramatic. I'm thinking of the effect on the viewer, or reader, of Van Gogh's swirling, cosmically charged "Starry Night" or Gerard Manley Hopkins's "Terrible Sonnets." But some art is more quietly life-changing. My husband brought back some small paintings from Haiti, done in a naive style by the young painter Armand Fleurimond. His lyrical scenes of the lush Haitian countryside and seashore, of children jumping rope or flying kites, insisted that a parallel world co-exists in that tiny island country alongside the violence, instability, and poverty. Fleurimond's paintings capture a private realm that I return to again and again, always feeling restored by his fresh, innocent vision. His paintings speak to the power of the imagination to give us a different version of the violent world we have grown accustomed to living in. By their very existence, they insist that hope prevails. In Haiti. Here. Anywhere. I call that life-changing.