Crystal Bridges Museum

by Lesli Hill

Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas is a magnificent cultural oasis supported by the WalMart Foundation. Two years ago, on the day after Christmas, the museum was full of families taking advantage of a clear bright day. As I rounded a corner, I noticed an unusual exhibit. It looked like a room that had gone through a Midwestern tornado, furniture upended and broken, teacups and vases shattered. I heard one visitor comment that it was “stupid” and “not art” and, on first look, I agreed completely. Then I took time to be more mindful about the scene….what message was I missing? The title of the piece was “slow room,” and further attention showed that every object in the room was attached to cables that pulled the objects slowly toward a small hole in one wall over time, breaking them and jumbling them in the center of the room.

Jonathan Schipper’s Slow Room in Motion

I couldn’t help realizing that this art could be a metaphor for my chronic pain. I have often felt that everything inside was jumbled and disfigured because of my pain, that I was unrecognizable to myself because of my pain, and emotionally disfigured to others because of it. As I looked at the slow room, what became clear to me was that the ROOM was still there. The walls, the container for the room, were intact. There were some scrapes on the wall, but they stood.

It was there I realized that having the walls was enough…the pain was not the walls of myself; it was just part of the constantly changing element of the slow moving room. Wow. One intentional discovery led me to a profound understanding about my pain. That’s what happens when I decide to be curious about my experiences. They help me construct a new mindset about pain and how I let it sit in my life.