A jug of water and a rocking chair

February 9th, 2011 by Wendy Pollock

A jug of water in Water: Our Thirsty WorldSometimes the simplest thing can bring an exhibition into focus. In Water: Our Thirsty World, it was this plastic jug that most impressed Maraya Cornell and conveyed viscerally what it feels like not to have enough. In her review, she wrote: “When you lift it, which, unless you’re a body-builder, you do only briefly, you have a small but powerful notion of what it must be like to carry that jug on your back for several miles, as must the African women walking across the sand dunes in one of Lynn Johnson’s photographs.”

Dawn Eshelman wished for a component almost as simple in her review of an exhibition at the Morgan Library about Mark Twain. Although she found herself absorbed by the author’s handwriting and turns of phrase (“clownish self-loathing,” “skeptical tumble-bug”), a rocking chair and a volume of Twain’s writings might have evoked his presence, she reflected. “When occupied, it would frame Twain’s favorite hero, the everyman, in modern form. Either way, it would provide something Twain might call progress – a good place to read.”

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that are the most memorable.

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